Sign & Digital Graphics

January '17

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22 • January 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S ELECTRIC SIGNAGE • What type of sign is going to be built? • Where is the sign going to be used? • What kind of manufacturing and installation capability do I have available? The answers to these three questions can help drive making a good decision and having a solid product strategy when choosing the right LED backlighting solution. Knowing the type of sign, its size, depth, and the desired lighting effects are probably the most important things to know in determining the right LED system. Channel Letters are pretty easy. Most likely, you will want to choose a "string- based" LED system. These are tried and true, offer the maximum flexibility and are relatively easy to install. Most sign companies have a particular module or manufacturer that they prefer. Sign mod- ules come in a variety of forms—with or without optics, different colors, a range of outputs, etc. General Rules and Considerations However, there are some general rules that can be used to make sure you are not buying and installing too much or too little of a system. Your decision, of course, will depend upon the sign type and desired face material. Here are some things to think about: Compensate for a Vinyl Face—If the sign face includes perforated vinyl you may want to choose a brighter LED in order to compensate for the 50%+ light block- age as a result of the vinyl. Beware of the Low-Cost Trap—Another consideration is cost. I have seen many sign makers take the approach where they just use the brightest, lowest-cost module they can find. Beware of this trap. For instance, if a 120 lumens-per-foot product (0.72 W) system costs $2.50 per ft., and you can buy a 180 LM/ft. (1.2W) system for the same price, you may think—"Hey I am better off." However, depending on the spacing you may still need the same number of modules and now instead of running 50 ft. per power supply, you can only fun 30 ft. Now you will need two power supplies instead of one, adding another $0.50 per ft. to your total cost when that level of brightness is not really required. It also adds labor and other costs to install and mount and wire the extra power supplies. Consider a Universal System—Sign makers say they want to have one single module that is versatile enough to use for most channel letter applications. This certainly can simplify manufacturing and stock levels, but the tradeoff is flexibility. Principal LED has tried to address this unmet need with its Fusion Freedom module. This module is universal in that it has the ability to choose the desired output based on wiring and has a remov- able batwing optic, as well as a range of colored lenses that can be attached or removed to provide specialty colors and color temperatures of white. According to Jeff Brazin, vice-presi- dent of national accounts for Principal LED, "Our goal is to simplify the lives of our customers. Fusion Freedom allows sign makers to stock a single module that Backlit channel letter design employing LED modules from Bitro. (Image courtesy of Bitro Group) GE Lighting recently released a Tetra LED Tape, a flexible product that can be cut every two inches and is available with clamp-on jumper connectors. (Images cour- tesy of GE Lighting)

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