When ignored, heat can kill an LED sign.
Among all environmental conditions, excessive heat is one of the most damaging, with high heat shortening the lifetime of your sign and lowering performance.
For LED signs, the optimal operating range hovers around room temperature (same as people). But with signs normally exposed to the elements and often running in full sun and all through the summer, how do you manage heat to extend the life of your investment?
Heat buildup is inevitable. Luckily, your manufacturer should have clever systems in place to beat the heat and keep your signboard rolling no matter what nature throws at you. Let’s take a look at ways to manage heat in your LED sign, and what to avoid if you want your sign to last as long as possible.
Proper Sign Placement
Location, location, location. Placement of your LED sign is one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make.
While visibility to your audience is paramount, also looks for a location that receives shade from the sun’s rays. Solar loading is by far the biggest external heat source your digital sign will face, and keeping the sun’s influence to a bare minimum will greatly extend the lifespan of your sign.
Ideally, you’ll want to avoid placing the sign facing directly east or west in order to minimize direct sunlight from both the setting and rising sun.
Outdoor signs will also need to be cleaned more frequently, regardless of location. Sign installation should let air move freely both in and out of your sign and the surrounding areas to keep your device in working order.
Thermal management systems should use ventilation fans, which are used to reduce heat in the sign’s enclosure. Well-designed systems do not rely on continuous use of these fans, and they’re meant to switch on once a certain temperature threshold is reached. LEDs like to be cool, and fans are your first line of defense against internal heat.
Thermostatically controlled mixing fans are frequently used together with ventilation fans to circulate air and prevent overheating. Mixing fans go to work before ventilation fans, circulating air internally to evenly distribute heat. When evenly distributed, hot air has an easier time dissipating and releasing heat to the outside.
This is important because bringing in more external air means introducing more dirt and dust to your system, meaning it needs to be cleaned more often. Mixing fans both keep your sign cool and reduce the frequency that you’ll need maintenance and repairs.
Modern LED software takes heat management to the next level, using smart components to monitor your sign’s heat in real-time and make automatic adjustments on the fly.
Software-based dimming comes into play to make sure your sign stays within its optimal temperature range. By slightly reducing the brightness of your LED sign, its heat generation will decrease until a comfortable internal temperature is reached.
And no, software dimming isn’t noticeable by your viewers. The software is designed to decrease brightness enough to reduce temperature but not enough to become noticeable—usually signs have to decrease in brightness by 20-30% for anyone to notice.
Smart Design and Manufacturing
Top manufacturers know how big a role heat plays in the use of your LED sign. Signs are built to meet important electrical safety and quality standards, reducing the risk of heat and electrical accidents.
LEDs are built to withstand very strict heat tests at the top end of their ideal temperature range before they’re approved for public use. The end result is a system you’ll be able to use for years to increase business and win more sales than ever before.