Here are some major differences between LED signs and what you don't know could end up hurting you...in the wallet. If you don't know what to watch out for, you will probably not be happy with your LED display, maybe not at first, but you will end up unhappy.
The purpose of this page is to give you the tools to make an educated decision regarding purchasing a Color LED Sign or LED Display or a Monochrome LED Sign or LED Display.
What is an LED?
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. Okay, that still doesn't answer the question, what is an LED?
Basically, an LED is a small light bulb. However, it is different from incandescent light bulbs in a few key areas:
*They do not have a filament
*They are more efficient
*They have a longer life span
For those that don't know, the filament in an incandescent light bulb is where the light is produced. The filament is heated with electricity and the result is light; sort of. It would be more accurate to say 'The result is light and heat'. Why is that important? Because the object of a light bulb is to produce light which means the energy/electricity used to produce heat is wasted! Have you ever touched a light bulb that had been on for a while? It took electricity to make the light bulb hot. When your light bulb uses a filament, there is no way around the wasted heat/electricity.
LEDs do not use filaments. That is why they are more efficient, almost all the electricity is used for making light, not heat! In other words, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to run an LED sign because the LEDs are so efficient. The old variable message signs which used incandescent bulbs ran up massive electric bills of $500 per month OR MORE. With the advent of the LED in signs, those electric bills dropped to $50 or less per month.
The LEDs used in most LED Signs are rated to last approximately 100,000 hours (about 11 years). That is a long time.
In the old days of variable message signs (which used incandescent bulbs not LEDs) operating the sign was very expensive because you had to have a service contract to have the bulbs changed every month. That alone could cost you $200 or more per month. Luckily the long life of LED signs makes those expensive service contracts a thing of the past.
LED Sign Basics
Now that you know what an LED is, there are 3 industry terms for LED signs you need to understand.
The individual LEDs are grouped together in what is known as a 'pixel'. The number of LEDs in each pixel varies. There could be one LED or there could be 25 LEDs in one pixel.
The major factor which determines the number of LEDs in a pixel is the 'pitch' of the pixels in the LED sign. The pitch is the distance from the center of one pixel to the center of the next pixel. The pitch determines how crisp the image will be.
If there are 2 LED signs sitting side by side and each one is the same height and width but they have different pitches, the LED sign with the smaller, tighter pitch, will have more pixels and thus a better resolution.
Selecting the right pitch when you are purchasing an LED sign may save you money as well as getting you the appropriate resolution for your particular application so make sure you read the section on choosing the right size LED sign.
The third term is 'matrix'. The matrix is made up of the number of pixel high and the number of pixels wide of an LED sign is. The matrix is what determines the physical size of the sign. If an LED sign is 24 pixels tall and 96 pixels wide, the matrix is 24x96.
With monochrome led signs and with an indoor led sign, the matrix determines how many lines of text you can put on the sign as well as how many characters will fit on each line. With programmable colour LED signs the matrix determines how much total space you have. A quick word of caution, having the correct height to width ratio is CRITICAL in colour LED signs, you should always consult an LED sign professional for help determining the best matrix for colour LED sign.
Customer Should Know Some More Before Purchase LED Displays