By Stephen Montgomery
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are used in a variety of stationary and mobile signs and professional displays, including large outdoor video screens, building façades, stadium screens, dynamic billboards, taxi signs, indoor retail displays, restaurant and supermarket signs, channel letters, lightboxes, backlit professional-grade liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and destination signs on mass-transit vehicles. The list continues to grow.
LEDs are still considered a new, energy-saving innovation in many lighting applications. While they are becoming popular and use across the board is increasing, mainly due to ecological concerns, they are not yet widely considered an alternative to traditional light bulbs, for example, where compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are better-established. Even when exclusively evaluating the signage and display illumination markets relative to the future of LEDs, it can be challenging to calculate the displacement process versus traditional lighting technologies.
Companies involved with signage and professional displays are typically faced with comparisons between LEDs and other types of illumination, including neon, fluorescent and incandescent bulbs (see Figure 1). The appeal of LEDs in this context includes their long operating life (which averages more than 10 years), lower electrical consumption (and thus reductions in related power costs) and greater reliability through solid-state lighting (SSL) construction, among other factors.
This market has evolved to include digital signage and out-of-home (OOH) advertising, where personal computers (PCs) and information technology (IT) servers are used with proprietary software to control various dynamic displays. The ability to change a sign’s content allows advertising clients greater control over their messaging.
The expansion of LEDs
The following are just a few of many specific examples showing how the use of LEDs in signage and professional displays has expanded in recent years.
Lamar Advertising has added LED-based digital billboards to its inventory of static billboards, bus and shelter posters and bench ads across Canada, the U.S. and Puerto Rico, along with highway logo signs in Ontario and 19 states. Digital advertising is offering flexibility never seen before, such as linking to social media and streaming live posts, tweets and images to the dynamic boards.