Outdoor Digital Signage – A Guide

Plasma and LCD televisions have revolutionised the home entertainment industry. TV’s are now flatter, cheaper and of better quality than they have ever been. This new flat screen technology has also been implemented for out of home advertising, with commercial companies taking advantage of the ability to erect the technology literally anywhere. Shopping malls, retail units, concourses, banks, hotels, colleges, schools and even prisons are implementing LCD screens as digital signage.

Digital signage has huge advantages over traditional print media in that digital signage:
•    Is cheaper than creating and print ad campaigns.
•    Flexible – promotions can be changed immediately
•    Messages can be tailored and varied for different products or particular customers
•    Revenue can be produced through selling advertising space
•    It can help influence customer behaviour
•    Provide important information
•    Is far better looking than traditional print signs; improving company image
•    Better visibility for warning signs or important information

Digital signage has expanded dramatically over recent years. Even despite the current financial turmoil the industry is still expected to grow by nearly a third so it is unsurprising then that more and more applications for digital signage are being implemented, including using LCDs and plasmas outside!

More and more applications for outdoor digital signage are being implemented all the time from electronic menus outside restaurants to information kiosks in busy high streets. Outdoor digital signage can prove a good investment. Using this new technology outside has the potential to get your message seen by a greater number of people but implementing outdoor digital signage poses different challenges to using the technology indoors

The weather is perhaps the biggest factor to consider. Rain, sleet, snow, hail, extreme hot weather and freezing temperatures are all elements that can permanently disable an LCD or plasma display.

To protect outdoor digital signage, LCD and plasma enclosures are used to prevent external elements such as water from penetrating through to the TV screen. These enclosures are often rated to European IP rating or international Guidelines such as NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association). These rating systems explain what protection the LCD enclosure (or plasma) offers against foreign bodies such as water and dust. The rating system is quite complicated but there is some good guidance on NEMA and IP ratings on the internet but as a rule of thumb IP65 or NEMA 4 are the minimum standards  to look out for when considering an LCD enclosure for outdoor digital signage.

There are however, other considerations that the IP and NEMA standards do not cover such as the extreme range in temperatures that outdoor digital signage systems have to cope with. Many cities throughout Europe and the USA experience sub zero temperatures in the winter while having to endure baking hot summers. To cope with this any outdoor digital signage system needs to have installed additional cooling systems to cope with the heat and heaters to prevent circuitry from freezing during the colder months.

Direct sunlight too can be a problem not just that it can damage the LCD or plasma screen but will also cause glare which will prevent the signage from being properly viewed. Anti-glare technology such as transflexive screens.

Any LCD or plasma installed outside and in public has to also be protected from unwanted attention. Plasmas and LCDs are attractive items for potential thieves and would-be vandals so any plasma or LCD enclosure has to be lockable, secure and durable.

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