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LED Display Signs Terminology and Definitions

  The digital led signage industry has a fairly specific set of terms and vocabulary for describing LED displays. Here is a quick  guide to some of the most important terms to know when learning about led display signs.

  Q: What is an LED (Light Emitting Diode)?

  A Light Emitting Diode (LED) is a solid-state semiconductor device that converts electrical energy directly into light.

  Q: What is AC?

  This is Alternating Current. This is the electricity that is used in most homes and commercial spaces. It’s often referred to as line voltage and number differs from country to country. US line voltage is typically 90V-220V, whereas it often averages higher in Europe.

  Q: What is CRI and why is it important?

  Color Rendering Index (CRI) is the measurement of how colors look under a light source when compared with sunlight. Having information on the CRI of a LED strip light is important because you want to make sure that the colors are being accurately represented by the light source. CRI is measured on a scale from 0-100. A CRI of 80+ is the industry-standard for most applications while a CRI of 90+ tends to be necessary for situations that need color accuracy. Our UltraBright High CRI Series are used for photography lighting, retail lighting, bathroom or salon lighting, and residential lighting.

  Q:What are lumens?

  Lumen is the measurement of brightness as perceived to the human eye. Because of incandescent lighting, we are all accustomed to using watts to measure the brightness of light. Today, we use lumen. Lumen is the most important variable when choosing which LED strip light you need to look at. Make sure you compare lumen output between LED strip lights before determining which one is best for your project.

  Q: What is DC?

  This is Direct Current. Most LED strips on the market use low-voltage DC. A transformer or low-voltage battery is often required to step-down the AC voltage to a suitable level for the LED strips, which is normally 12V or 24V DC.

  Q: What is the difference between 3528 LEDs v 5050 LEDs?

  LED chips are all not all equal. The four digits represent the size of the chips in millimeters. For example, the 3528 chip is 3.5 mm X 2.8mm. Some chips are brighter than other and some have special uses and restrictions. 

  Q: What is LED pitch and how does it affect the type of lighting I wish to achieve?

  LED pitch is the distance between the individual chips on a strip (FPCB). It is absolutely crucial to understand the importance that pitch plays in your project. The shorter the pitch, the more uniform the light tends to be and the less spotting you have. To read and learn more about LED pitch.

  Q: What is color temperature?

  The color of light can be quantified by referring to its color temperature. White light is measured in Kelvins (K). Most white lights fall in a spectrum between 1800K and 6500K. When getting close to 3000K, the light is noticeably warmer. On the other end of the spectrum, the lights have a blue-ish tint and cooler tone when nearing 6500K.

  Q: What is mA or mAmp?

  This is 1/1000 or 0.001 of 1 ampere. When using LED strips it is common that the current draw for the LEDs will be less than one amp. In this case milliamps are used to indicate the amp draw. An example of this would be that a draw of ? amp would be equal to 500mAh.

  Q: What is Binning?

  Simply put, binning is the process of grouping LEDs during production so that they matched with LEDs of the same color sector. For example, all 2700K chips are ‘binned’ together and are separated from chips that have a higher/lower color temperature. 

  Q: What is a Watt?

  A watt is equivalent to one joule per second, corresponding to the power in an electric circuit in which the potential difference is one volt and the current one ampere. A watt is equal to the voltage multiplied by the amperage. This is how your electric company keeps track of how much energy you consume.

  Q: What is solid-state lighting?

  Lighting devices that do not contain moving parts or parts that can break, rupture, shatter, leak, or contaminate the environment. LEDs do not use electrical filiments or gasses to produce light.

  Q: What is luminous efficacy?

  This is calculated by measuring the lumen output and then dividing that number by watts. For example, a strip that has a lumen output of 300lm/ft and a wattage draw of 3w/ft has an efficiency of 100lm/W.

  Q: What is an Isocandela diagram?

  Graphic representation of brightness distribution of a light source.

  Q: What is a Luminous Intensity Distribution Diagram?

  Is a test to determine the angle of an emitted beams of light.

  Q: What does Fidelity Index (TM-30) mean?

  How closely the observed light can render colors like the sun, using 99 color samples.

  Q: What does Gamut Index (TM-30) mean?

  How saturated or desaturated colors are (aka how intense the colors are).

  Q: What is a goniophotometer?

  A photometric device for testing the luminous intensity distribution, efficiency and luminous flux of luminaires.

  Q: What does Color vector Graphic (TM-30) mean?

  Which colors are saturated/desaturated and whether there is a hue shift in any of the 16 color bins.

  Q: What does CQS - Color Quality Scale mean

  An alternative to the unsaturated CRI measurement colors. There are 15 highly saturated colors that are used to compare chromatic discrimination, human preference, and color rendering.

  Q: What is IP stand for?

  This is a rating system that defines the ability of a product to be able to work in different environments. IP is an acronym "Ingress Protection". It is a measurement of the protection an item will have against solid objects (dust, sand, dirt, etc.) and liquids.

  An IP rating is comprised of 2 numbers. The first number refers to the protection against solid objects (dust, etc) and the second number refers to protection against liquids. Here is a complete article about IP ratings.

  Q: What is the difference between IP65, IP67, & IP68?

  The differences between commonly sold IP65, IP67, & IP68 strips are slight, but very important. Using the above chart as a guide, we can see that all strips are protected at the highest level from solids and dust. The variations come with the protection against liquids.

  IP65 = Water resistant. “Protected against water jets from any angle” *Do NOT submerge IP65 LED lights, these are not waterproof.

  IP67 = Water resistant plus. “Protected against the events of temporary submersion (10 minutes)”*Do NOT submerge IP67 LED lights for extended periods, these are not waterproof.

  IP68 = Waterproof “Protected against the events of permanent submersion up to 3 meters”

  Display processing - This is simply the technical term for the process by which the digital sign takes a digital image and converts it into a visible display on the sign.

  Full motion display processing - Digital signage displays, which are capable of video playback, utilize "full motion" display processing, meaning it can create smooth and seamless video.

  Case Configuration - This describes what materials the LED's case is made from, and other features such as how weather-resistant it is.

  Pixel - A "pixel" is simply a single "dot" on the display that can be as small as one LED or it may contain a cluster of LEDs that act as a unit. An LED display is made up of an array of pixels.

  Pixel Pitch - the distance from the center of one pixel to the center of the adjacent pixel.  This is equivalent to a display’s resolution and is commonly measured in millimeters.  The larger this number is the more spacing there is between pixels which result in a lower resolution.  The lower this number is, the more tightly the pixels are packed together resulting in a higher resolution.

  Color processing - How many colors a display is capable of. Most full-color displays can display more than 250 trillion shades.

  Operating Temp - LED displays can operate in a wide range of temperatures, generally from around -40°F up to around 120°F, allowing them to work in most environments.

  Optimal Viewing Angle - There is a point where a digital sign becomes too dim to see if you are too far to one side of it. When this happens, you are outside the Optimal Viewing Angle. The wider the OVA, the better for visibility.

  Software (Content Management Software) - Every digital sign requires computer software, which allows you to manage messages, pick graphics, and schedule message changeover times.

  Full color LED display - A digital signage display that can display the full range of colors, by using a matrix of three colored subpixels that, when lit in different combinations and intensities, can create the full spectrum.

  Frame rate (FPS) - The frame rate indicates how many times per second the image is updated. This is measured in frames per second, or FPS. The higher the FPS, the smoother the video appears.

  Brightness - The brightness of a LED display is measured in units called "nits." One nit is roughly equivalent to a single burning candle. LED displays are capable of brightness measured in several thousands of nits.

  Monochrome LED display - A LED display that only displays one color, generally either red or amber, which are generally used for text-only displays.

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