Sign & Digital Graphics

November '19

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58 • November 2019 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S ELECTRIC SIGNAGE mounting flange," explains Stewart. "LED letters are lighter construction, so it was natural to re-design the old bulky race- ways used with neon letters." By creating a thinner raceway option, it also resolves the need to keep the race- way hidden from the main focus of the letters, according to Stewart. However, hiding a raceway can be done through another method as well. "If the customer would like to hide the raceway, we can make a back- ground," says Wheeler. "This is a sheet of ACM that is cut to create an outline around the letters. This hides the race- way and can make a contracting color for the letters." Other improvements in raceways include more advanced and automated aspects. "Standard on all of our products is a three-way switch and a photo eye," shares Wheeler. "That way if the cus- tomer wants to use the photo eye it is already installed. If they choose not to use the photo eye, they can switch the sign to on constant. Of course, the third position is off." Still, even in traditional raceways, some of the biggest advancements remain focused on efficiency and ease- of-use for the sign maker. By using aluminum materials, for example, the lighter-weight material, "can extend custom letter or logo height up to 120 inches in a single piece," Meyer says. The ability to adjust the size of a let- ter, and thus a raceway, brings better branding and visibility to the end user. "The height of the raceway is deter- mined by the height of the letter," Wheeler says. Tips with Codes When dealing with any type of elec- trical or channel letter project, there are sure to be rules and regulations to fol- low. Sign makers will want to educate themselves on certain codes to be sure they are in full compliance. "(Codes) will depend on the city, and every city is different," Sciortino says. "Some require engineering designs showing how it is attached to the wall —they require wind load. Each raceway is UL and they have a disconnect switch with a UL sticker." Wind load is a consideration that will often arise. City officials need to have confidence that the signage is secured safely and is structurally sound. Any extreme weather condition is a potential threat to channel letter signage, and wind plays a part in that scenario "There are some municipalities that require engineering for wind load," explains Wheeler. "This can be expen- sive and must be part of your price. We always get permits before building anything. You are taking a big chance if you build a sign without first getting a permit." To reiterate, manufacturers and sign makers should both be on the same page to ensure the end user is satisfied with the project. This is especially imperative when incorporating every channel letter sign element—the letters, the raceway, the electrical components and any other additions. At Gemini, "letters can be provided with UL-Certified LED packages, and the letters will include UL Listed Sign Section labels for all sign bodies and power supplies," Meyer says. "These components are used by the sign installer, when installing the letters and raceway. We count on their expertise and awareness of local electrical codes and the requirements of the local inspector. This partnership with our customers is mutually beneficial—they are the experts in installation and Gemini is the letter expert." Through the history of channel letter signage, there have been several compa- nies, experts, consultants, locations, and customers involved. Each time a project is completed, this area of the sign indus- try seems to advance. Looking behind the letter can lead to some very thought- provoking questions, and it's the reason that a seemingly simple component, such as a raceway, is as important as any other element. SDG Images courtesy of Brazz Specialties.

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