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A Beginners Guide to LED

LED and AV electronics can be a daunting and overwhelming subject for new players to the architecture and design industries. While many have a vision of what they want, the price tag and product might not be what they need.

In this guide we hope to breakdown the necessities and explain technical jargon that may be confusing for non-LED experts.

Venue


Indoor vs. Outdoor

The first consideration of any LED project is the venue. This helps narrow whether your LED products should be fitted for indoor use or outdoor use. The difference in product lies in energy consumption and price point. For outdoor products, expect a higher price point. This is because outdoor LEDs are much brighter than indoor LEDs up to 3x. Outdoor panels also need to be fitted and rated for protection from the elements such as dirt, moisture, and dust.


Viewing Distance

In addition to whether your panel will be indoor and outdoor, another important consideration is viewing distance.

How close or far your audience is from your LED display determines the “pixel pitch” of your product. The pixel pitch refers to the resolution of your content on the LED screen. The closer the viewing distance, the smaller the pixel pitch - the smaller the pixel pitch is the more pixels on a panel, and each pixel costs money.



For an up-close visual experience, you would want a high resolution, which would mean a smaller pixel pitch. Pixels are clustered closer together according to their millimeter count. For 0-3FT viewing distance, the recommendation is under 1mm. This will give the content brilliance and detail.

In some cases, however, higher resolution is unnecessary, such as digital billboards which are meant to be seen 500-2500 FT away. In this case, even 100 mm pixel pitch would be excessive and much too expensive, as the details would be lost in the distance.

The further the point of viewing is from the LED display determines the appropriate pixel pitch. Installing the wrong resolution can result in undesired results and unnecessary high costs. It’s important to work with an LED team you trust to communicate the parameters and expectations of your project.


An average rule of thumb is 3.2 feet of distance for every 1mm of resolution - pending on screen size and angle. Your LED team will help you determine the right pitch.


Installation


There are multiple ways a display can be installed, especially if it is a custom design. For fixed installations, a stable and durable frame is important. Depending on the product, the frame or mount can be fitted for front or rear access. Depending on how your design is to be displayed might determine if a front access, rear access, or dual access panel would be best for your project.

Installation is arguably one of the most important parts of the process. Of course, you want the best product at the best price, however, consider putting LED panels together, connecting wires and cables, and having a cohesive display. LED display projects are more than just the product. A trustworthy LED team will ask many questions about the space, building, limitations, requirements, etc, and usually conduct a walkthrough to evaluate the project.


Some LED companies do not offer installation and only supply the product. If you are unfamiliar with LED projects, it is better to use a supplier that can work with your team and integrator to perform installation and service maintenance to avoid costly mistakes.


Front vs. Rear Access

When choosing your product, your LED team/specialist will help you determine if a front access, rear access, or dual access LED is appropriate. As straightforward as it sounds, depending on which access your product has will determine whether you can access the panel modules from the front, back, or in some cases both. Some products might be directly wall mounted, which front access to the module panel would be better as opposed to having dismount the whole panel. In contrast, a product that is front facing may be better maintained by having rear access to the panel - where the general public will not see any connections or service performed.


Other Factors


Does Size Really Matter?

In reference to the size of the space, yes, the size of your LED display does matter. Just like any design element, the size, shape, and dimensions of your space will determine the size, shape, and dimensions of your display, especially if it is a custom build. Too large of a display in a small area will make the space claustrophobic, while too small of a display in a large area will underwhelm the effect.


Additionally, the aspect ratio of the content will also need to be adjusted for the display size and dimensions. The general standard of most content is a 16:9 aspect ratio - so for example if you want to display 4k, your panels will have to equal 4096 pixels across and 2304 pixels down to perform a standard 4k video.

Refresh Rate

The refresh rate at which your display runs is also important to consider. The higher the refresh rate the more reduction in flicker for the human eye, producing a more crisp and lifelike view. Low refresh rates can result in a banding effect. The banding will take away from the content experience and bring attention to the equipment instead.


Service and Maintenance

The average LED panel is rated for 50,000-100,000 hours of use. Most suppliers will offer a 1-5 year warranty on their supplies. However, the challenge many project managers and contractors face when dealing with any situation is how to repair a problem if something goes wrong.


Suppliers should ensure you receive extra panels to swap out on your module, in the event that a panel stops working for whatever reason. Something to consider is how long a panel repair will take to return, if a repair is possible, and how easily a point of contact can be reached for service.


Another thing to consider is pixel replacement and color matching. A quality LED supplier will be able to repair or replace a pixel so that it is identical and uniform with the other pixels in the panel. A big red flag in LED supply is the inability to color match. A pixel or panel that is too bright, too dim, or not in uniform with other panels is a problem for display and audience viewership.


The Purchasing Process


When it comes to fixed installation, LED displays and walls are a commitment - especially for lobby and architectural design. The process is not a quick overnight decision, but really a team effort of multiple partners. Because these displays are intended to be around for a while, it is important to choose a team that will be as well. Your LED team should be responsive and accessible when you need them.

A proper custom design will include a personalized consultation. The consultation should be focused on meeting the vision and needs of the client and not focused on selling a package or product. In a personalized consultation, you should expect for your expert to have a product to meet your needs, not change your needs to fit their product.

A trustworthy supplier will provide a full proposal before the sale. The proposal should be informative and complete, including information regarding the company, a line item list of products/parts, diagrams and mockups, installation agreements and information, timeline, warranty, and costs. If there are any lingering questions, the company representative should be able to answer and include with the proposal. As with any sales proposal, a follow-up conversation is expected to further answer any questions in the proposal. Having an open and accessible line of communication with a company contact is an important indicator of trust and reliability.


Once the proposal has been discussed and agreed upon, the next step is a contracted sales agreement. The sales agreement will have payment terms and the terms of agreement as noted in the proposal.

Because this is a lengthy process, we recommend working with a supplier that is knowledgable and easy to communicate with. Looking for shortcuts or cost-saving methods inevitably leads to higher costs and a longer timelines. As a company with over 100 years of combined experience in the LED field, we’ve seen a lot of mistakes made and swooped into to save thousands of hours of disappointment.

Our hope is to guide you in the right direction for a happy end result.


DetaiLED® products are custom designed for each project, with the backing of a North-American based technical team that handles the full LED installation project from beginning to end, as well as maintenance and repair.


To learn more about DetaiLED® Solutions visit https://www.detailedsolutions.com/

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