We’ve been building LED lighting into signs for years. Why? Because they have many advantages over conventional incandescent lamps. For one thing, they don’t have a filament that will burn out, so they last much longer. According to the statistics I’ve read, LEDs can have lifetimes of 50,000 hours or more, incandescent lights are at about 2,000 hours or less. Additionally, their small plastic bulb cover makes them a lot more durable and able to fit into more compact areas.
We like to get creative with LED’s. We leveraged LED’s in a sign we built for a local record retailer called The Exclusive Company. You don’t see Marquee style signs very often. These are the signs with lots of flashing light bulbs and vertical lettering that were popular with old fashion cinema houses. That look and feel was captured in the sign we built and installed for them.
This is a highly unique retail sign lit by fluorescent lamps and RGB LED’s. We gave it an older style look but used newer technology that only draws a fraction of the amps. The lifespan on the RGB LED’s is a lot longer too, which will help reduce maintenance costs.
LIKE MIXING PAINT
RGB or multi-color LEDs contains red, green, and blue diodes that can be mixed to produce any color. Similar to mixing paints, mixing a particular amount of certain colors of paints gives a new color. It’s the same in many ways with light colors. Mixing Reds, Greens and Blues together will give you a rainbow of colors based on the intensity levels of each. Mix them all at the same levels and it produces a “white” light.
How to get the colors of light? DMX is one way. “DMX” stands for “Digital Multiplex Signal”. It is sometimes called DMX 512, because it can be used to control up to 512 channels.
To better understand the word channel, think of a DMX “Channel” as a “Color”, so if you have an RGB light this light would use 3 “Channels” or “Colors”. 1-Red 2-Green 3-Blue. You can control up to 170 RGB fixtures with 3 channels per fixture in a single DMX universe. (170 x 3 = 512) Each fixture is specifically addressed within the 512 universe using a DMX Decoder/Driver, and you program your light scenes according to the DMX address that you assigned to each fixture.
Conventional incandescent bulbs give off most of their energy in the form of heat-carrying infrared light photons — only about 10 percent of the light produced is in the visible spectrum. This wastes a lot of electricity. In LEDs, a much higher percentage of the electrical power is going directly to generating light, which cuts down on the electricity demands considerably. They are around 90% more efficient.
Up until recently, LEDs were too expensive to use for most lighting applications because they’re built around advanced semiconductor material. The price of semiconductor devices has plummeted since the year 2000. Many electronics manufactures have become tooled to manufacture LED lighting making it a more competitive market, lowering the cost even further.
Less heat, Less power, Less operating cost…what’s not to like?
LED technology is a more cost-effective lighting option for signs since most signs are in the “on” position for many hours of the day. While they may be slightly more expensive than incandescent lights up front, their lower cost in the long run can make them a better buy for your electronic sign.