LEDs: The challenges of illuminating channel letters

Some acrylic face colours will produce better results than others for front-lit letters.

Backer panels
Another technique for optimizing LED-based illumination for reverse-lit letters is to add a backer panel.

A backer panel is basically a contoured aluminum sheet that is specified in a chosen colour and then mounted behind a channel letter set. It may be used with either front- or reverse-lit channel letters, but will only affect the illuminated appearance of the latter.

There are compelling advantages to adding a backer panel for reverse-lit channel letters. First, the panel’s colour can be chosen to blend in with the building façade’s colour, making the difference inconspicuous during the day. Secondly, a backer panel provides an even and neutral surface for the halo illumination.

Overall, a backer panel provides an ideal surface for halo illumination with LEDs. It avoids the problems with colour, texture and reflection that can otherwise result from mounting reverse-lit letters directly to a building’s façade.

Finding the proper configuration
LEDs can provide an effective and economical source of illumination for channel-letter signs, but taking full advantage of their capabilities requires the letter set to be properly configured in the first place, in terms of face colour, return depth and numerous other variables. Incorrect choices with regard to any of these variables can compromise the performance and appearance of the illuminated letters after they have been installed.

John Baylis is marketing director for Direct Sign Wholesale, which produces channel letters. For more information, contact him via e-mail at jb@directsignwholesale.com.


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