Sign & Digital Graphics

December '19

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32 • December 2019 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S ELECTRIC SIGNAGE requires a very low tolerance in color variation the manufac- turer would need to purchase at a premium a small color 'bin' to eliminate any visual variations." Bluhm continues, "LED pole-mounted lights in a parking lot spaced out 50 feet would not require such a small bin as the color shift from one fixture is almost impossible to detect. White LEDs behind white acrylic in a sign requires a very low tolerance for variation. Some quality companies who sell LED solutions into the sign market make a practice of only buying from top tier LED manufacturers that can guarantee low variation." Extending Sign Life As sign makers consult with each customer, they will want to enhance the features that are "worry-free," much like many promotions that are aired worldwide. The difference with LED signage is that most promises are kept due to the nature of the products involved. "If the sign maker selects a well-designed LED product there should be no need to service the sign except the occa- sional power supply replacement when it reaches the end of its ability to convert high voltage to low voltage," Bluhm shares. And it may go without saying but, "Make sure you have the right power supply with the proper voltage, for example a 12-volt system versus a 24-volt system," says Picot. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the ones that resonate the most. As far as extending LED sign life, users should think about the most opportune time to operate the signage. "If you want to extend the life, turn the sign off during the day," says Picot. Bluhm agrees and adds some sensible ways for customers to achieve optimal usage. He says, "LEDs, like any light source, depreciate over time. We would encourage end users to utilize a photocell or timer to turn their signs off when illumination is not needed." For larger projects, the power supply comes back into play. This time, the question is about its placement instead of qual- ity or overheating. "Sign makers need to keep in mind that the LED driver doesn't have to be mounted inside the sign," explains Bluhm. "Low voltage power supplies allow for extreme remote mount- ing which offers the sign owner easier access to the power supply if the sign is hard to reach." For example, Picot shares that, "In larger projects like a high-rise installation, try to remotely mount the power sup- ply where they are easily accessible. Ease of maintenance is a consideration should something go wrong." Ease and maintenance are two words that do not usually go together, however, with LED signage there are typically more solutions than problems. Sign makers that anticipate chal- lenges and have the right grasp on their work will minimize the amount of maintenance down the road. SDG Application and Installation Errors B Y N A T A L I E P I C O T , C U R R E N T B Y G E Regarding occurrences when LED signs require mainte- nance, there are two different scenarios: A missed applica- tion or a missed installation. On the application side, UL has guidelines regarding the use of specifically-rated products. So, for example, if you use a damp-rated product in a wet-rated application, that's a product that shouldn't have been used in that applica- tion and it will likely fail. Also, one should ensure the wiring is done according to standards required for the application. For example, when installing in a wet-rated environment, one should use electrical grade RTV (room temperature vulcanizing) silicone to seal the wire nuts when making the connection. On the installation side, there are a variety of things. The wiring may not be properly connected, or the power supply may be mis-installed. One of the common errors we see is the power supply placed in an enclosure that is not up to code (UL specifies how one should properly install power supplies in terms of clearance from one another, etc.), mounted close together in a non-ventilated space. They get crammed together and may overheat. Those are the more common installation errors. Usually the LEDs are fine, but they'll go out because the power supply has failed. Image courtesy of Current by GE. Electrical signs are most successful when all of the pieces come together to display the message. Image courtesy of VANTAGE LED.

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