Outdoor digital signage is the fastest growing outdoor advertising sector. In the USA, mainland Europe and the UK – outdoor screens are becoming commonplace; used for signage, information and entertainment.
But using screens outdoors is a new preoccupation and it can be all too easy to underestimate the requirements of the screen and the location it is placed in.
Many outdoor digital signage screens are not in fact designed for outdoor use. Mostly they are commercial grade screens protected by some outdoor digital signage enclosure and while most of these devices are great at keeping the weather elements out and protecting the LCD or plasma screen from impacts.
However, heat and direct sunlight are perhaps the two most common causes of breakdown in an outdoor digital screen.
Overheating is commonly caused by two things. Firstly, many outdoor screens do not have enough cooling systems inside their LCD enclosure. Often this is due to the installers who fail to realise that enclosing a screen will increase the temperature the screen will operate in.
Secondly, direct sunlight can often cause extra temperature, increased degradation and additional humidity. Sunlight can also damage the screen itself; causing burn marks, not to mention causing the screen to be virtually unreadable – although this is commonly countered by using high brightness TVs and components such as anti-reflective glass.
Methods of cooling
There are various methods of cooling LCD and plasma screens utilised by outdoor digital signage enclosure manufacturers:
Cooling fans – the most common type of cooling where air is circulated around the enclosure. This is fine in mild climates but as the ambient temperature increases so does the air being circulated around the enclosure, eventually becoming too hot to transfer heat away from the device.
Air conditioning – expensive and difficult to implement but air conditioning systems installed inside the enclosure used to be seen as the only method of cooling LCD screens in hot environments but there has been many advances in air conditioning systems including closed loop and vortex cooling which are different methods of cooling external air and circulating it through the enclosure – these modern methods are proving more reliable and less expensive than the traditional air con systems.