New Lumirescent Hv Fast Fit LED Strip – designed to offer worldwide standardisation

Insight Sign Systems, a leading supplier of lighting to the sign trade, is about to launch a product that could revolutionise LEDs by offering the same standardisation that fluorescent lamps provide. Richard Rinn, Managing Director, explains more.

30 metre back-lit sign

For the past five years, Insight has been busy developing its own brand of LEDs, named Lumirescent, to compete with the staggering amount of LED variations being used for the illumination of signs.

To be truthful, I personally was very happy with fluorescent lamps, after all since they became commercially available around 1930, the basic design has not changed that much. This in my opinion is testament to a very good design; even though they are manufactured by some of the world’s largest companies, such as Philips and GE, none has had to introduce any truly significant changes to the overall design. However, what these companies can offer is long life fluorescent lamps which last 50 per cent longer than LEDs (yes, 50 per cent longer) with some having a stated life of 79,000 hours, losing only 10 per cent lumens during that time.

How can any LED system compare with this, coupled with an 80 year track record? Nevertheless, all the current hype is about LEDs, telling us they are the future, combined with the fact that fluorescent lamps are becoming very expensive and more difficult to obtain, due to China controlling more than 95 per cent of rare earth phosphors and cutting back on export levels; so as you can appreciate Insight was not going to get left behind. I hoped to do some price comparisons between LEDs and long life fluorescent lamps, but I’m still waiting for prices for the latter, weeks after asking. I’m starting to believe that, together with the HF control gear to operate them; long life fluorescent lamps are so expensive that no-one actually has them in stock. (I would like to hear from any one who does and actually has a price list?)

Internal view of highlight Hv

Despite being happy with fluorescent lamps, our Lumirescent LED system has now overtaken fluorescent used in our products, so much so that we are considering that by the end of this year we may no longer use fluorescents lamps at all. This is a big step to take, with fluorescent still accounting for around 30 per cent of the illumination we fit, but due to the large amount of variations in gear trays such as, quads, triples, twins and singles, then six lamp lengths, keeping control of stock has become an unwanted task when you consider that our Lumirescent is on a roll and we simply cut it to whatever length is required. We do still have to stock various sizes of driver however, but only for our 12V variation.

It occurred to me that if we drop fluorescent lamps and lose 30 per cent of the sales, which come about almost purely due to fluorescent’s lower selling cost, then we may suffer, especially when we keep hearing about the state of the economy. But after a year of research and designs, I decided that an alternative to fluorescent lamps was required, one that offered a more comparable price but with more benefits - no big task then?

hightlight Hv with 120 LEDS per metre

I can reveal that being a hyperactive person I am always looking for new ideas. I studied the market for illumination, checking to see if the ideas I was having were available already. For instance, I had always wondered why fluorescent lamps did not work directly from the mains 240V, as the electronic ballasts which operate the lamps are very expensive and many fail before the lamps. I then noticed that LED rope lights worked direct from mains, using only a small rectifier. This is when the idea struck, produce a Lumirescent strip that works directly from the mains, so we could dispense with drivers and wiring, which would greatly reduce the purchase and labour costs.

This we have now achieved with Lumirescent Hv. Furthermore, at 14.4W consumption per metre, we have managed to reduce the running costs by more than 50 per cent when compared with fluorescent.

When I started the research I found that 220V strips already existed, a bit like rope light, but most were not that bright, and none offered more than 60 LEDs per metre. Also, the cut length was one metre, meaning matching the exact length of a sign would not be possible. I then decided to produce our own from scratch, using a bespoke PCB which would allow 120 LEDs per metre and a cut length of 500mm. This enabled us to control the quality and choose the best chip and LEDs possible. Designs were then implemented on new extruded aluminium lighting profiles such as Highlight Hv Halo-light, all designed around this new strip. After a lot of hard work and expense, all have registered trademarks and both profiles are now on the market.

Lumirescent LED on a roll from Insight Sign Systems.

You would have thought that was that, it would now be just a case of getting on with appointing reputable distributors in every country to sell as much of the products as possible, but fluorescent lamps continued to bother me. I want to drop them, especially as we now have a very cost effective alternative. I kept trying to figure out what was bothering me, and now I know: standardisation. That is the secret of fluorescent lamps’ long reign as the world leader for all these years, they have been the normal and most standard way of illuminating signs.

Yes, perhaps 40 brands or more exist, but they are all interchangeable. LEDs on the other hand come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and brands, and many different designs. This means we are in danger of losing this very important standardisation, which exists among many other electronic items such as televisions, phones and computers. They all operate from standard formats, meaning no matter which country you sell them in, they will provide the same quality of operation. Car companies are now doing this after almost going bankrupt. World cars are the buzz word – the same design to suit all countries.

So how could Insight make Lumirescent Hv match fluorescent? Simple, we offer standard linkable lengths which fit sign cases in the exact way fluorescent lamps do; so by August this year Insight will be offering Lumirescent Hv Fast Fit Strips, a plug in and light system available in 500mm, 1,000mm, 1,500mm, 2,000mm and 2,500mm lengths. We have designed a custom extruded aluminium heat sink mounting rail to which the strips will be bonded using 3M 6682-200 adhesive heat transfer tape, supplied complete with wired plus and sockets. They are then fitted to sign case or display just as you would fit fluorescent lamps, same spacing, (depending on sign case depth) same overlapping to avoid shadow gaps.Profile cross section of Hv light.

The main difference is that you will have no wiring to complete. It will take you only the same time as it takes to fit the t erry clips for that secure the fluorescent lamps, then just connect all the wired male plugs to the female sockets, and you’re ready to connect and illuminate.

prototype lumirescent LED strip fitted in small sign case.

Think about the savings, the reduced weight, and the fact that you will never have to go back to replace a burned out ballast or driver, coupled with the enormous advantage of it being so simple and offering the same standardisation that fluorescent lamps offer, and the fact that the majority of sign companies know how to fit them. Price-wise, Lumirescent Hv Fast Fit Strips will be bang in the middle between standard fluorescent with control gear and LEDs with drivers. As for brightness, it will be equal or better to that of the large well known brands of LEDs on the market.

Lumirescent 12V is already specified and being used in KFC drive through menus, Nisa food stores, and many more large retailers such as McArthur Glen Designer Outlets. Insight’s confidence was boosted even further when main sign contractor Signs by Morrell and McArthur Glen recently sanctioned the use of Lumirescent Hv in a very large three-sided 8,000 x 8,000 mm digital printed, back-lit mono post sign that’s around 30m tall is installed in Italy. This will not only save McArthur Glen a lot on capital expenditure and labour costs for fitting, it will reduce the consumption and remove the weak link in any LED chain, the driver. This will also act as a test centre for Lumirescent Hv as far as reliability is concerned, a tough test as the location is a very hot one, and although the case will be ventilated and fitted with a thermal cut-out; anyone working with LEDs knows that they do not like heat.

Find out more at the website or by telephoning 0141 774 5990.

Design by