Sign & Digital Graphics

December '19

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30 • December 2019 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S ELECTRIC SIGNAGE Bluhm ties the life and quality elements together saying, "The life expectancy of an LED system is all dependent on the quality of the product. Poor low-cost LEDs driven above their current limits may not make it past three years. Quality products with top tier LEDs and proper circuitry can last more than 100,000 hours." Quality remains the top priority in any sign project, especially when sign makers are looking to limit ongoing maintenance. If the right products and components are used from the start, sign shops can pass that quality down to the customer. "Regarding the quality of the product, one should look for a manufacturer who has performed extensive testing on their LEDs to ensure they perform as advertised," remarks Picot. "In terms of proper performance of the LEDs specifically, the thing that one has to look out for the most is the placement of the LEDs to prevent shadowing and hot spots on the face." Many times, the issue of hot spotting or has more to do with the configuration of the LEDs as opposed to the actual quality. Says Bluhm, "Due to the variety of depths, face material and sign construction, some sign shops have to re-position LED solutions to solve for optimum bright- ness and evenness." Aside from providing top-notch quality, sign makers should be aware of other aspects such as how LEDs pair with other sign parts and adhere to standards. "UL/ETL listing is important to ensure the LED pro- vided is compliant," states Salitrero. Flaska adds that sign shops should "always use a licensed electrician that is familiar with local electrical codes. This is important for safety of course, but also helps avoid potential permitting and inspection problems that could delay use of the sign." Of course, any conversation with a client is never com- plete without discussing price. Sign makers would be wise to weigh any upfront costs of LED signage versus poten- tial maintenance costs of other lighted sign options during financial talks. "Although an LED's system still costs more than fluores- cent lamps in a sign cabinet," starts Bluhm, "the quality of light, energy efficiency and longevity more than make up for the overall cost premium." Being the Solution Even with the advancements of modern technology, there will continue to be issues to tackle, no matter how small problem. Sign makers who can diagnose, or even troubleshoot, these issues ahead of time will confront far less maintenance concerns later. Here are a few examples to keep in mind: Construction and Configuration " LEDs can fail over time from a number of reasons," explains Bluhm. "Poor product construction, improper drive current, or environmental issues may lead to a premature failure. If the LED fails, the only remedy is to replace the product with a new LED product." In certain situations, the very placement of the sign's components may be the root of the problem. "If a power supply has been installed incorrectly in an area that has caused it to overheat, replacing the power supply will not fix the problem and the replacement power supply will simply overheat again," says Picot. "There may also be something wrong with the wiring, which a new power supply would not fix. If, however, the voltage test indicates that the power supply is functioning properly and is generating the right output, there's probably something wrong with the LEDs. Then you can then go in and start replacing the LEDs." Image courtesy of Current by GE. High-quality LEDs can have a life of more than 100,000 hours. Image courtesy of Vantage LED. "LED displays are actually low-maintenance units," says Josie Salitrero, national sales manager, Vantage LED USA. Image courtesy of Vantage LED.

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