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LED Lighting Systems

Using LEDs can make traditional signage stand out and with added environmental benefits, what’s not to like? Genevieve Lewis explores the possibilities of using LED lighting systems

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LED modules can offer a number of advantages when used for lighting signage, including eco-friendly benefits

Light it up

Making a big impact is important, especially in the sign industry. One way of making a sign ‘pop’ is to add lighting, and what better to use than LEDs?

LED modules can be integrated within individual letters and brand logos, creating a physical identity that businesses can be proud of. Not only do LED modules help to bring that extra something, but they can also have environmental benefits, another area in which companies are looking to tackle and highlight.

Applelec’s Michael Crotch says that LEDs can help to create impactful signage

Michael Crotch, Applelec’s signage sales team leader, says that LED modules can really add something special. He explains: “Helping to achieve truly impactful signage, LED modules can be integrated within letters and logos to deliver striking illumination that brings traditional signage to life. Elevating the appearance of signs, LED modules can be used to produce illumination effects such as halo or face-lit options to create attention-grabbing signage and ensure company branding is clearly visible during both day and nighttime hours.”

Crotch also highlights the advancements in technology have allowed sign-makers to be more “creative” in their work. He continues: “Along with being used to bring illumination to signage, solutions such as push-through LEDs and LED cabochon bulbs act as stand-alone products that can be used to create highly modern and stylish looking letters and logos.

With advancements in manufacturing capabilities, this has enabled sign-makers to be more creative with products to deliver impressive and memorable branding

“With advancements in manufacturing capabilities, this has enabled sign-makers to be more creative with products to deliver impressive and memorable branding. Such as with Applelec’s faux neon, LED range NeonLux, which can replicate the appearance of traditional glass neon, but with the added benefit of the acrylic-based product being more energy efficient and robust, helping to widen installation opportunities.”

With the high street struggling down to the ease and power of online shopping, LED technology can help make a sign stand out and entice customers into your store or business. Complete Sign Illumination (CSI), which supplies a number of LED options including the Edgestrip range from Current, powered by GE. Sales general manager Europe for Currrent, powered by GE, David Williamson, says that: “Subject to local planning approval where the signs are to be located, well designed illuminated signs using LEDs can give the business owner several benefits. These benefits include better visibility of their business on the high street or retail park, versus other businesses nearby that don’t have illuminated signs and it can also help to enhance their brand image above that of their competitors. Many signs using LEDs can now be made smaller and more aesthetically pleasing than before, not to mention that vivid colours are also available to create eye catching designs, helping to attract more customers.”

The LED Monkey team

The change in LED technology is something that Mark Atkinson, social media and marketing associate at LED Monkey also mentions as well as agreeing on the influx of colours available. LEDmonkey.com was launched last year and supplies a range of LED product lines that includes brands such as GE and Philips LED bulbs.

Factoid: Nick Holonyak Jr, who worked for General Electric at the time, developed the first light-emitting diode that was in the visible part of the frequency range in 1962. It was a red LED – historyoflighting.net O

He explains: “LEDs are incredibly versatile and have completely revolutionised the world of signage since their inception some 15 years ago. When the technology first hit the market in the early part of the new millennium, it was fairly basic and consisted mostly of single units with limited functionality.

“Nowadays, however, we have RGBW (red, green, blue and white) colour-changing LEDs and Pixel Tape that can be controlled remotely using a simple RF remote control unit or, for more complex programmes, DMX or ‘digital multiplex signalling’. This allows the user to create elaborate lighting sequences and patterns that can create a breath-taking display and make an otherwise mundane sign looks stunning.”

Zeta’s Light Guide Panel can be used in both single and double-sided applications

Kevin Batham, senior national account manager for Zeta Specialist Lighting, says that using LED modules can make signage more “attractive” to passers-by especially with the list of growing options that Atkinson also discusses: “Signs which are illuminated are more attractive and more useful, and the ability to incorporate lighting in both new and legacy signage provides incremental revenue opportunities for sign-makers, as well as increasing their value-add to clients.

“Zeta’s solutions are easy to work with and easy to install – the ECOLUX SOLAR includes two different pre-set positions and bracket projections which enables sign-makers to achieve the optimum beam angle without having to wait for darkness to make any adjustments.”

Batham adds: “Another easy to install and versatile, Zeta’s Light Guide Panel can be used in both single and double-sided applications and suitable for both outdoor and indoor use. Plus, as Zeta’s LEDs are available in a range of colour temperatures along with RGB options, there is a scope for sign-makers to offer a range of different effects and mood lighting to clients.”

And what about these lucrative environmental benefits? With the world’s attention thankfully turning to clearing up its act, many businesses are heightening their attempts to limit their environmental impact.

LEDs offer sign-makers an eco-friendly solution to illuminate signage and are fast becoming the lighting of choice across many signage applications

Batham says that using LED modules in traditional signage can provide a greener option for sign-makers. “LEDs offer sign-makers an eco-friendly solution to illuminate signage and are fast becoming the lighting of choice across many signage applications,” he says. “When used on-grid, Zeta’s LED signage solutions such as Light Guide Panel, consumes up to 80% less power than traditional lighting systems, which positively impacts on both the bottom and the green line.

“LEDs are flexible, energy-efficient and longer lasting. Zeta’s Embedded LED Panels for example, last for 50,000 hours (average rated life) which is almost three times longer than traditional fluorescent. But without a doubt, the biggest advantage is that they can also be used in conjunction with our solar powered lighting systems, which is when the real economies kick in.”

Some LEDs can offer up to 50, 000 hours of life

Atkinson reiterates the environmentally friendly aspects of LEDs: “LEDs consume just a tiny fraction of the energy required by other, more conventional, light sources. Indeed, generally speaking, a single 4-watt LED light bulb operates 90% more efficiently than its 40-watt incandescent counterpart, meaning the user achieves the same number of lumens (Lm) yet pays for only 10% of the power.

“In terms of LED modules, those used to illuminate today’s signage operate at up to 94.5 Lm/W (Lumen per Watt) efficiency, so they waste hardly any of their power in comparison with traditionally used light sources.”

From the perspective of a sign-maker, why should they use LEDs over any other options? Applelec’s Crotch says: “For sign-makers looking to illuminate letters or logos, LED modules are the most practical and reliable solution. Along with being energy efficient as well as cost-effective, the construction of LED modules makes them extremely durable and suited to challenging conditions such as external applications.

“SloanLED has been creating LED modules for over 60 years and product industry-leading systems that go through rigorous testing to ensure colour consistency as well as quality of build.

“LEDs are low maintenance and once integrated, require very little aftercare, and this combined with the lighting products longevity, provides a system that is idea for a vast range of projects, especially for those with difficult access such as high-level installations.”

Atkinson of LEDMonkey also says that LEDs will provide sign-makers and their customers exactly what they are looking for when it comes to their project. He adds: “While most sign-makers like to provide exactly what their customers commission as regards illumination, most these days would recommend LEDs.

“Superb reliability, energy-efficiency, eco-friendliness and longevity have ensured that LED technology in one form or another is the predominant source of illumination for modern signage, with only specialty and niche manufacturers still relying upon neon and incandescent to any great extent.”

Majert, a German manufacturer, operate under the Chiplite brand, which consists of 12 different LED modules

German manufacturer Majert also provide LED modules to the signage industry. Marco Klan, marketing director for the company, says that there are a number of benefits of using LEDs over traditional lighting techniques. This includes the environmental qualities that Atkinson, Batham and Crotch all highlight. Klan says: “Quality LED lighting systems offer distinct advantages over traditional fluorescent and neon in terms of lower installation and maintenance costs, enhanced environmental and safety awareness. For example, LED modules operate at a much lower voltage – typically 12V – enabling a 70% reduction in energy consumption whilst providing an individual module lifetime of 50,000 hours.”

In some cases, LEDs have been introduced to create authentic-looking neon signs that do not use the traditional gasses and techniques associated with neon

As a sign-maker it is becoming increasingly imperative to think about your environmental impact, something that customers may look into when commissioning a project or buying a product from you. Offering solutions or signage that incorporates LED modules, which offer a bright, eco-friendly and long-lasting alternative to more traditional options of lighting signage could help to put you at the front of the line.

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