OMC Flexistrip: Solving the problem of misleading LED prices. | Lighting and LED - Jan 2009 | Sign Update Feature

OMC Flexistrip: Solving the problem of misleading LED prices.

OMC' Flexistrip - 5 strips of LED's in different colours. With increasing numbers of end users requesting LED illumination in their signs, and ever more signage component suppliers adding LED lighting to their range, it has become increasingly important for signmakers to understand how to compare what is being offered. In a recent market study, LED lighting manufacturers OMC (UK) Ltd concluded that many signmakers may not be getting their money’s worth. Here’s why.

LEDs for signage are often sold on a "price per metre" basis. OMC found that a large number of users therefore compare LED products metre for metre, on the assumption that a metre of one product is roughly the same as a metre of another, and will illuminate one metre of letter edge. But many LEDs are sold in module form, consisting of blocks of LEDs joined up into strings separated by wire - so with prices being compared on a "per metre" basis, it is very tempting for manufacturers to put bigger gaps between LEDs in order to reduce the apparent unit cost by reducing the number of LEDs in one metre of product.

The problem is that in order to achieve a bright, even beam, products with large spacings must often be fitted much closer together inside a letter, bunching up the wire to reduce the gaps between the LEDs. This means that a metre of product "as sold" does not give a metre of illumination around the letter, as this illustration shows.

In the example pictured below, the letter has a perimeter of about four metres and needs to evenly illuminate around the edge with a halo effect. If the modules are spaced out as sold (left hand figure), the illumination will suffer from bright and dark patches, as well as a low overall brightness. To achieve a satisfactory effect, the LEDs need to be bunched much closer together (centre figure), which in this example results in about 2.5x the LED meterage being required, as well as a considerable increase in labour cost.

OMC says it has solved this problem with the Flexistrip™ range of LED signage illumination components. Originally introduced to the sign market by OMC in 2004, Flexistrip now has more than twice its original brightness at approximately half the original cost.

Diagram showing different methods of using LED's to light up letters.

The core OMC Flexistrip range consists of flexible strips of ultrabright LEDs which can simply be fitted in a single run to the inside letter return. With up to 90 LEDs per metre, this product achieves a brightness and beam uniformity that is very difficult to match when using modules. Simplicity of pricing as a key benefit, as one metre of Flexistrip equals one metre of illumination around the letter (see right hand figure).

As a result of its study, OMC has two important pieces of advice to give to signmakers when obtaining quotes on LEDs. The first is to ask for the number of LEDs per metre and to work out the price per LED. The second is to ask for the light output in lumens per metre, this will tell how bright the product is, to be sure that the LEDs are of a good brightness grade. As an example, OMC’s front-firing Flexistrip in white offers about 300 lm/m.

View the OMC range at or telephone 01209 215424 for more information.

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