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LED Lighting for signage: 2013

LED flexible strip installed into a built up letterBlue and white halo illuminated letters by LED SolutionsRGB LED Module

As LED lights continue to rise in popularity, previous notions of them being too expensive or overly-bright and costly to run are being overturned.

Luke Dalton, LED Solutions, explains that LEDs are growing in popularity as myths of old models are being dispelled and the market evolves to satiate consumer demand. “There have been a variety of myths surrounding the use of LEDs within signs, which have been generated by sign makers who have not actually used them before or who have purchased poor products after conducting little or no research into the market,” he explains, adding that LED Solutions supply DAEHAN LED modules, which are CE/ROHS rated and use only Samsung or Seoul conductor chips offering 5-year warranties. “Another myth that surrounds LED products is that they are very expensive and that it would take years for you to notice a return on your investment.” While LEDs were a more expensive lighting option after initially entering the market, the price point now is competitive among suppliers and comparable with other technologies. “We are now seeing ROI’s way below warranty length,” says Dalton. “If in doubt just get in touch, we can prepare comparison data to fluorescent tubes that will show energy saving and ROI.”

LED Solutions manufacture an LED Light Panel product that illuminates everything from fascias to projection signs, light boxes and fret cut panels that require even illumination but must have returns less than 40mm. The panel is an 8mm thick clear acrylic panel etched with a light distribution pattern. The LED board is embedded inside. This allows for homogenous illumination across the face of the panel, eliminating the chance of any spotting.

“Flexible LED strips are also becoming a very popular product that can be used within built up letters or fret cut fascias,” says Dalton. These are again highly versatile and illuminate signs with shallow return depths as they can be placed around the inside of the returns, or in close strips directly behind detail. The flexible strip products from LED Solutions are manufactured to specific colour temperatures and provide a bright and even illumination effect whilst proving to be very cost-effective.

Products like these are setting the stage for a new era of LED signage.

Steve Kane: Good installation is “All in the planning”

When it comes to completing the best LED installations, however simple or complex, Director and sign lighting application specialist at MegaLED Steve Kane says there is one main thing to consider.

According to Kane, it's all in the planning and selection of the right hardware from power to control and from cable to sign. With help the help of expert guidance, any sign maker can install LED signs and dim them in many colourful intelligent ways with relative ease. “Installation success in our book is all about planning first and planning second”, says Kane. With careful planning and knowledge of the power and control options available to them, sign makers can deliver the best jobs. Good installations are like anything – it’s all in the planning,” he explains. “As MegaLED are fortunate to have the widest range of light control systems, our experience allows sign makers to cover all aspects in the power and control of LED lighting. We specialise in supplying power and multi channel control systems to the UK's leading signage companies.”

When Steve and the team at Mega LED plan an LED installation or sign lighting job, the most important thing they consider is the power arrangement and how to distribute the power and control for the signs in the best way - a way that it complements the actual control or dimming requirement.  “Even when we've seen many examples of where a sign maker is trying to retrofit a dimming solution onto a 'static' sign installation where the wiring might not quite be done correctly, we can usually find a workaround and advice on how to get the desired result.”

By planning ahead, sign makers can add value to their offer, circumvent common costly mistakes, produce, sell and install quality low voltage LED signage that offers more than just "on/off" lighting.

Sloan LED was founded in 1957, and was among the first to develop LED technology and modules. European Sales Director Barry Blythe notes the change in market demand has been palpable in recent times.

“We’re seeing a shift in market trends - not just in the UK, but across the whole of Europe” says Blythe. Whilst initially clients were expecting LEDs to match the brightness of fluorescent and neon tubes, the trend has moved to demand even illumination at an affordable price point. “Ultimately the end user is generally looking for an acceptable level of brightness rather than crazy brightness, which was the rage a few years ago when LEDs first become available and were being compared against existing technologies. Even though the technology is there to match or even exceed the brightness of more traditional light sources such as fluorescent, this is no longer in demand as cost, efficiency and meaningful warranties are now becoming the key drivers.”

As the market looks for even light distribution and what Blythe describes as “an acceptable level of brightness,” Sloan LED along with other manufacturers are adapting their product lines to comply. Sloan LED’s V180 product line is one example of how LEDs are evolving to provide a good level of even illumination matched with industry leading efficiency at an affordable price point. “What’s special about this product range is via our patented technology we are creating a wide distribution of light without the use of a secondary lens. Used unnecessarily by many of our competitors, lenses can lose up to 15% of the light output of the actual LED, meaning with lenses you either take a hit on light output or power consumption compared to a non-lensed product.” The V180 range consists of V180 Mini which is suitable for use in small shallow channel lettering, V180 standard which is suitable for medium size and depth channel letters and light boxes and finally the new V180 Large, which is ideal for medium to large channel letters and large flex face type light boxes that would typically appear on out of town retail parks.V180 Large, which launches in late July offers industry-leading efficiency of over 108 lumens per watt and 130 lumens per module, making it one of the world’s most efficient and brightest LED signage modules available in today's market.

"The improvements and expansion to our V180 range and other new products being developed are also made with cost- and time-efficiency in mind. We know everyone is looking at the cost side of things, and that’s not just the upfront cost but the running costs as well. The brighter you make the sign, the higher the running cost hence why the market is moving towards more sensible levels of even illumination rather than high-octane brightness,” says Blythe. Thanks to the introduction of modules such as the V180 range sign manufacturers can also save themselves time and cost with the installation process. Where before sign makers would have to use around 30 - 40 modules per square meter, the same effect can now be produced with as few as 12- 16 modules per square meter. “The installation time is reduced significantly because you’re putting less than half the modules in than you were a year ago,” Blythe concludes.

Portland Ecolux II trough lightingPortland Lighting has created the “Next Generation” of LED Sign Illumination, the Ecolux II. Sign Update caught up with Portland Lighting to find out exactly what this revolutionary product has to offer sign makers.

LED technology dramatically gives sign makers the opportunity and capability to produce stylish, contemporary and easily maintained sign lighting.

Portland Lighting’s experience and continued investment has enabled the design of its own slim-line drivers sealed to IP67. The innovative new drivers are fitted integrally, allowing for a speedy installation without having to find time to position housing for ugly remote drivers. Access and maintenance is quick and simple, sliding on runners within the casing and allowing ECOLUX II a sleek new modern look with a casing of just 50mm diameter.

Style and elegance continue with the revolutionary 90˚magnifying lens getting a makeover, featuring a new jaw system that snaps shut as well as a smart readed finish; this is the rigged design on the outside edge of the glazing section. This enclosure gives ECOLUX II casing an IP66 rating, sealed to be suitable for up or down lighting installation.

Joining of lights to form longer runs has evolved with our latest cast aluminium connector. The new ‘Kwiklink’ incorporates cable glands and plugs carefully designed for maximum protection and thoughtfully designed for a rapid installation.

Our LED strip has a 2 year warranty and is sealed to IP65. High power 24V 14.4W per metre LEDs are available in both 6000k cool white at 1200lm per metre, and 3000k warm white at 1100lm per metre. A new heavier density copper PCB has been introduced giving greater heat dispersion for increased performance over its 50,000 hour working life.  

ECOLUX II has a family of fully adjustable quick fix brackets. Speedily slotting into the channels at the rear of the extrusion ECOLUX II has a bracket for every fixing situation that offers comfort and ease to the installer.   

Committed to providing quality without compromise, all of Portland Lightings products are independently electrically safety tested & CE certified as required by law. Each light is individually tested and logged with its unique number prior to dispatch for traceability. All our IP seal ratings are independently tested. All of these legal requirements and added reassurances further endorse Portland Lightings pedigree as the leading supplier of sign lighting in the UK.

Window Display by Fairfield Lighting

New LED Light Pockets™ from Fairfield Lighting are a bright and reliable way to illuminate posters and signs. Janice Fairfield explains how the Light Pockets have made brightened the workplace, and what makes these bulbs such a powerhouse.

“The Light Pockets are so bright that they illuminate the interior of our office and totally change the working environment!”

This is a frequent comment received after an installation carried out with Fairfield’s ultra-bright LED Light Pockets™. Fairfield has developed two complete ranges of LED Light Pockets™ using the ultra-bright white LED’s. In both cases the screen printed panels have been designed to give a totally even spread of light even on the larger A1 & A0 sizes. The LED Light Pockets are supplied in kit format with the top quality suspended Fairfield Cable Display System, which ensures a highly professional presentation.

A Wall Mounted LED Light Pocket from Fairfield LightingThe LED Light Pockets are truly double sided, as the cables support the panel from the side, resulting in no obstructions to the visual presentation. The deluxe range has a wide clear border with sparkling bevelled edges with attractive silver studs in the corners of the panels. These are ideal for the larger windows where you need to make a strong design statement.   In contrast the Compact Range, which is manufactured in the UK, has narrower borders and can be used in large and small windows. Units are available in single, double and triple width panels. The Compact Range is also available with coloured centre panels for a total custom design. The bevelled edges are brighter on the front, so that staff aren’t dazzled by the brightness of the units in the interior.

The latest addition to the range are wall mounted panels, which can have a clear border with sparkling edges or a solid coloured  back panel designed to take small and large graphics. The floor standing podium range of Sirius units can be used in outlets as diverse as Estate Agents, exhibition stands, restaurants and museums. These elegant units have a large coloured back panel with bright glowing edges in a choice of A4 or A3 illuminated poster holders.   

The Light Pocket uses the very latest LED technology and is extremely economical to run, yet at the same it is incredibly bright, really drawing the eye to the illuminated graphics to make sure the message stands out from the crowd.

Units are maintenance free with a lamp life of more than 60,000 hrs. The majority of displays are normally updated every five years so these units make sense in this difficult economic climate.  At 60,000 hrs you will see a drop in light levels, but like any lamp the Light Pockets will last much longer.                                                                            

Graphics or posters can be changed quickly and easily.  The best results are achieved from back lit inkjet prints (duratans), but standard paper can be used up to 120 gsm high gloss paper.  Just slide the poster in and out, no tools are required.

LED Light Pockets – looks stunning in reception areas, all types of exhibition stands and can also be used free-standing for conferences, in bars, restaurants and museums. 

Applelec are at the forefront of LED innovation, ushering in the “second generation” of LED Light Sheets with their Series 2 Panels. Managing Director Ian Drinkwater reveals the panels are 20% brighter, energy-efficient and how they are lighting up the Prince of Wales Theatre in style.

“Nothing stays the same in the world of LEDs,” says Ian Drinkwater, managing director of Yorkshire-based Applelec. “We have taken steps to deliver notable improvements to our LED Light Sheet – achieving a whopping 20% increase to brightness without any increase to energy consumption. Better still, this advanced panel will be available with absolutely no price increase and, of course, all panels are created with pride in our Yorkshire factories and supplied with a 3 year warranty.”

The Series 2 panels LED Light Sheets achieve a magnificent brightness increase of 20% for both standard and high brightness panels. Furthermore, due to advances in LED technology, Series 2 LED Light Sheet achieves this brightness increase without compromising the energy efficiency of the panels. Indeed, testing on 300mm square, cool white panels showed a minute increase of just 0.12W in both the standard and high brightness units in comparison to their Series 1 counterparts.

A flat sheet of brilliant light, LED Light Sheet is a bespoke light source manufactured by Applelec and originally developed to streamline signage and display systems. Using patented 3D V-cutting technology, a clear, 8mm thick sheet of acrylic is etched with a uniform matrix and cut to a specified shape and size. Thermally managed LEDs are then securely embedded into the sheet in a second patented technique which ensures the unit is robustly constructed and runs cool to the touch. The etched matrix acts as a vehicle to transport light from the LEDs across the surface of the panel to deliver bright, even illumination. In addition to the impressive brightness increase, Series 2 LED Strips feature a wider chip platform which reduces the dark areas to the side of each illuminated chip.

The West End's Book of Mormon lit up with Applelec LED signage

Lighting London’s West End

Newman Displays have retrofitted exterior signage and light-boxes at The Prince of Wales Theatre with Applelec’s LED Light Sheet to achieve a phenomenal 85% reduction in annual energy consumption.

The decision to replace fluorescent tubes with LED Light Sheet was made both for aesthetic reasons and to improve the energy efficiency of the signage and branding system. The LED Light Sheet signage draws 1514W in comparison to 9904W of the previous system to deliver an annual reduction of almost 46000kWh, a drop of 85%. Representing an annual saving of £3,900 to the theatre’s energy bill, the system reduces maintenance costs into the bargain.

“This great project highlights the versatility of LED Light Sheet and the energy savings possible with this light system in comparison to fluorescent tubes,” says Drinkwater.

Bright, even illumination to the projecting signage and light-boxes was the primary objective of the project with controversial musical, The Book of Mormon, recently debuting at the theatre. The venue’s large, four metre square, light-box and entrance door-streamer are curved fixtures which have been illuminated by faceting multiple panels of LED Light Sheet; a technique that’s often employed to illuminate large curved installations.

For Mark Hollington, Newman Displays, picking the LED Light Sheet for the job was a natural choice. “After successfully using LED Light Sheet at The Piccadilly Theatre, though on a smaller scale, we selected it for this project due to product durability, good overall illumination and low power consumption,” he says. “The Prince of Wales Theatre light-box refurbishment, for incoming show The Book of Mormon, required crisp and clean white signage illumination. Changing from fluorescent lighting to LED Light Sheet has resulted in greatly reduced maintenance concerns, all-important reduced running costs and lower emissions. We’re extremely proud of our work in the industry and look forward to working with LED Light Sheet in the future to illuminate London’s West End.”

In total 30 Series 2 LED Light Sheet units were used throughout the installation which includes the attention-grabbing large scale feature light-box, two 7.5 metre long double-sided light-boxes positioned vertically along the sides of the building, a curved streamer above the theatre’s door, and a small double-sided projecting sign.

The next generation panels are now being used in all Applelec’s LED Light Sheet fabricated signage including projecting, totem and fascia signs. In fascia signage, LED Light Sheet eliminates the need for a built-up metal back tray, which would normally house fluorescent tubes, to reduce both material cost and tray bulkiness. Mounted directly behind an acrylic backing-sheet, then fixed to the wall with top and bottom aluminium angle fixing rails, LED Light Sheet reduces tray depth from 100mm to 30mm. 

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