Whilst digital signage hasn’t been with us very long the concept of putting plasma and LCD screens outside was inevitable considering the rapid growth of the new media. Outdoor digital signage does of course pose challenges as any display has to be protected from the elements.
The IP rating system is a European guideline that stands for ‘Ingress Protection’. The IP rating is used to denote all electrical equipment enclosures and the protection they offer against any foreign body. There are two digits after the letters IP, the first number denotes the protection from solid objects, such as dust, dirt and even fingers; the higher the number the better the protection.
The second number demonstrates the protection the enclosure offers against liquids, again the higher the number the better protection. In our outdoor digital signage example, IP65 is most commonly used. This is because it offers excellent protection against solid objects (6 suggests the enclosure is dust-tight and impossible for anyone to make contact with internal parts using fingers or appliances). Whilst the second digit, 5, suggests that while the LCD enclosure cannot be submerged in water it is completely resistant to splashing and pressure washing.
Sometimes IP66 is used to describe the protection of outdoor digital signage, offering slightly better waterproofing than an IP65 although the difference is marginal and denotes the strength of water jets it could resist. Obviously for outdoor signage any LCD enclosure would need to be protected form the rain rather than high pressure water jets.
There is a common misunderstanding about the IP rating system. It is often assumed that IP is a quality mark – it is not. The IP standard is a self-certified system meaning anyone can build an LCD enclosure and claim it is IP65 rated, however, this is no guarantee that the device will operate effectively outdoors although it does mean the product has been sold with that intent. For any outdoor digital signage application it is better to speak to the manufacturers and ask how there enclosures offer protection and what engineering is used in their assembly.