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Common Questions

LED Billboard common questions

Common Questions

What is an LED?
LED Billboard light

A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor device that emits visible light when an electric current passes through it.


What are the different types of LEDs?

Through-hole and SMD. Both names come from how the LED is mounted on the printed circuit board (PCB). An LED that is mounted with its electrical leads protruding through the PCB board in holes is called a Through-hole LED. Through-hole LED’s are individually package by color. An LED that is mounted on the surface is called a Surface Mounted Device or SMD. SMD LEDs have Red, Green and Blue LEDs all enclosed in one package.

The most common LEDs used today in LED Digital Billboards are Through-hole. Though-Hole provides for lower electrical and unit cost. SMD is used for higher resolutions and for all indoor LED Screens.

What is an LED Bin?

The Semiconductor Die is the part of the LED that generates light when power is applied. To improve the yield of the semiconductor die material, manufacturers offer lower prices to encourage the purchase of wide bin ranges to LED screen manufacturers.

Diodes of equal power brightness and color are put in bins.

What is and why do I need Full Screen Calibration?
To correct for the uneven brightness and color shades, they perform a full screen color calibration to get the brightness and color shads closer between the different Bin LED's.
What is an LED Pixel?

A pixel is a light point and can produce a full range of colors. One pixel equates to one light point.

This refers to how the image on the LED screen is processed. Real Pixel means the software uses one pixel to represent one light point. Virtual pixel -- sometimes called Enhanced -- means that the software has the ability to use LED’s from adjacent pixels to form a pixel that averages in color between the two real pixels to create a virtual pixel.

Virtual pixel improves the image quality on larger pixel spacing LED screens. One problem is that LED manufactures often use the Virtual or Enhance pixel pitch in their specification, which is often confusing because it over states the number of real pixels by 100%.

Regardless of how the image is processed, you need to know what the Real pixel pitch is for proper comparison.

What is an LED Pixel Matrix?
This is the number of LED light points on the LED screen, the number of how many high and how many wide.
What is a Nit?

Nit is a unit of measurement of light emitted per unit area. The measurement of candela per square meter (cd/m2). This is a common method to measure brightness of light being emitted. Most consumer desktop liquid crystal displays have luminance of 200 to 300 cd/m2;[1] the sRGB spec for monitors targets 80 cd/m2.[2] High-definition televisions range from 450 to about 1000 cd/m2.

What is a Candela?

Candela is the base unit of the measurement of light. One Candela is equal to the amount of light emitted by one candle.

What are Foot Candles?

Foot Candles is the measurement of light of a source on a surface in Candelas. It is not the measurement of emitted light from a light emitting surface that is measured in Nit. Light on a surface from a light emitting source is measured in Foot Candles.

How bright should an LED Digital Billboard screen operate at?

An LED needs to be about 5,000 Nits to compete with sunlight. LED Digital billboard maximum full White image brightness ranges from 10,000 to 8,000 Nit depending upon the manufacturer. Each LED Digital billboard’s brightness needs to adjust for its location and direction in regards to the sun and night time ambient light conditions.

Why do I not operate my LED screen at full brightness?
Just like driving your car at full speed, operating your LED screen at full brightness will increase your electrical cost and reduce the useful life of the LED screen.
What is my expected useful life of LEDs?

LEDs do not burn out, they simply lose brightness over time. Everyone offers LEDs with a 50% brightness loss or less over 100,000 hours of continue operation. This is at a constant temp, humidity and current in a controlled environment. Actual performance varies greatly. Look to the manufacturer’s warranty regarding brightness.

What LED Pixel Pitch do I need?

What is the minimum viewing distance of the majority of our viewing audience? All LED screens look great from a long distance. Then, what is your competition in the area of your LED? LED Digital Billboard resolution is getting higher and higher. Years ago 34mm and 25mm were common and the standard for many years has been 20mm. Today the standard is moving to 16mm.

How much do they weigh?

Weight of an LED Digital billboard can vary greatly between manufacturers. High weights are 15 pounds per square foot and low weight are 9 pounds per square foot.

How much power do they use?

Power costs vary greatly depending upon screen technology. We recommend you get an estimated power quote from the manufacturer based upon the kilowatt costs at your location. We recommend the reading below for additional information:

Factors affecting electrical costs
How many software user licenses come with the LED digital billboard?

This varies between suppliers. Some suppliers still require software keys on one computer, while other suppliers offer you the ability to set up unlimited users.

What is the difference between LED digital billboards and LED screens of the same size.

There are many LED Screen manufacturers offering traditional billboard sized LED screens, some at very attractive pricing. The buyer needs to know what the difference is between an LED Digital Billboard and an LED screen of the same size. An LED Digital Billboard has lower operation costs regarding power, service and longevity, and is a complete system that meets industry standard. This includes a mounting method that has been engineered, that allows for two 14 by 48 LED digital billboard to be installed in one day. The service access design for a billboard, a web cam, an environmental control box, a web/cloud based software program, diagnostics, and the ability to show Dynamic data. An LED Screen needs a mounting system, typically has a high power cost, and is not designed for 24 hour a day 7 days a week operation. After all of the features are added to the price of an LED screen the end cost is typically more than a real LED digital billboard.

There are a lot of companies wanting to supply LED Digital Billboard that make large LED screens. They offer the LED screen and software to show video. So they are not the same products.

Why do I need to know about service access?

All LED digital billboards will require services at some point. Therefore, knowing how your LED digital billboard is accessed will affect your on-going service costs. First, you need to know if the LED digital billboard is front or rear service. Then, you need to make sure your structure is set up correctly. Most modern LED billboards are set up for rear service. Once you determine your LED digital billboard’s service access, how you access the power supplies, tiles, receive cards, computer, etc., will actually vary greatly between suppliers.

Does an LED digital billboard require cooling fans?

As LED technology progresses, LED screens are using less and less power and producing less and less heat. In the beginning, LED screens required large air conditioners to operate outdoors. However, each year the number of cooling fans required is lessening to the point that some manufacturer’s designs do not require any fans whatsoever.

How will I know if there is an operational problem with my LED digital billboard?

Remote live monitoring diagnostics continually records and reports all operational events on your LED Digital Billboard, and will send an e-mail alert if a failure occurs. Diagnostic capabilities can vary greatly between suppliers.

How many advertisers can be on each display?

That is up to you. Because it is not limited by the technology, your LED digital billboard can display a virtually limitless number of advertisers. Typically, this is determined by the location, amount of traffic and the speed of traffic.

What is the average hold time between advertisements?

Typically, the average hold time is 6-10 seconds. This is usually set by local regulations.

How long does an installation take?

If an experienced crew sets up everything correctly, two 14' by 48' screens can be installed in one day. To ensure complete, correct installation, you should request that your supplier’s project manager coordinates the specifications for the LED screen’s attachment with the specifications of the structure and the electrical system.

How do you communicate to a billboard?

LED digital billboards send/receive information over an Internet connection. Cable, DSL or cellular data are all acceptable, although cellular data is the current industry standard. The billboard’s computer, situated at the location of the sign, holds the content schedules that are sent to the sign via the Internet.

What is real time data or dynamic data?

The ability to show updated data from the Internet that is embedded into the advertising content being continually updated. This can be local weather, news, Amber alerts and countdown clocks. Additionally, some suppliers provide you with the ability to do conditional data, where the content message changes based upon a determined condition, like the temperature or a game score. Some suppliers also provide you with the ability to update the data via social media. This is a very powerful tool which can help you sell more ad space.

What is proof of performance in the software?

This is a part of your content control software, which records every time an advertisement is shown on the screen and provides a report to go with your invoicing.

Is there a Billboard trade association?
Yes Outdoor Advertising Association of America

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