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当前位置:首页 > 杂志 > 2017年10月杂志——LED光源的改装方案



There is just no denying LED is a great "lighting solution" for our industry.


On the other hand, as simple as LEDs appear to be, they are not simple and they are not created equal. There is an LED for almost every lighting need, and in most cases the LED solution offers advantages no other lighting medium in the past can match. That being said, let's get to our two most popular retrofit needs and usage: illuminated letters and sign cabinets.


Illuminated Letters


There is an LED for any sized letter and, to be clear, not all LED modules are created equal nor are all LED offerings UL certified as a "retrofit". For those of you whom might not know, for a CLM (my acronym for Channel Letter Modules) to receive UL acceptance, there are a number of factors that must be met. While this might not be the place to go over these intricacies, rest assured this is a requirement in North America.


If you are retrofitting illuminated channel letters, they are or were probably illuminated by neon. With this option, the letters most likely have 5" returns, regardless if face or halo lit.This return depth will typically work in your favor and the stroke will also be in your favor to allow you to get your hands in to remove the neon components, stand offs and GTO wiring -- and most importantly to clean the letter interiors.


When retrofitting letters, you have two primary options: perform the retrofit as an R&R (removal and reinstall) or perform it on site. If on-site is your choice, things you need to consider:


On-Site Considerations:


Access. Overall, letters and site conditions. Remember, site labor is typically the most expensive part of a retrofit and can be compounded by ground-level access--or lack thereof--and power line restrictions, etc.


LED low voltage wiring access. This might need consideration if the letters are not raceway mounted. What is the mounting surface? This has a direct effect on your labor if you must drill holes; however, if the original lighting was neon, you might be able to use the neon wire holes.


Is there a Raceway? Possibly the easiest retrofit because all of your LED/secondary wiring can be in the raceway without any protective covering.


Color saturation. If existing letters had colored faces and colored neon, and you use “white” LEDs, the colored face will not look as saturated. Explain this to your customer-prospect should this be the case.


Additional considerations. Older plastic faces and trim cap can be a failure ready to happen under your watch, so you might want to list your potential adders for breakage for your customer in your agreement.



Removal & Reinstall Considerations:


Same as above, regarding access concerns.


Naturally, you will have labor to remove and reinstall. There might be some liability on your part for older plastics, etc., so do a very good site survey and cover any potential liability in your agreement.


It is possible if there is a raceway, could you leave it on site? Again, a site survey will confirm this.


Same issues with the face removal, even in your shop.


In your survey, determine if the sign codes changed. This is a very real potential issue regarding major repairs like this. Do not remove anything without checking the applicable code.


With the above thoughts, your LED materials will be pretty straight forward with the actual LED, power supply(s) and low-voltage wire. Regardless of either option. Deciding which option is very dependent on any given findings mentioned previously. A set of block letters with 3" strokes and an average number of letters might be easy to do on site. On the other hand, a large quantity of letters or narrower stokes might eat up a lot of on-site labor and the R&R might be a better solution. This option is also somewhat dependent of the weather conditions and available time to work in your shop.


Sign Cabinets



Our industry is steeped in, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," and this opens this segment up to the three LED retrofit considerations, once you get past the fluorescent "easy out" mentality. It might very well be your customer demanding the update to LED, for all of the right reasons. So, let's discuss these three LED options and remember as with any retrofit, in any application and market, a site survey and full understanding of the LED system you might be considering is on you:


Grid System


A grid system is just that, a grid of LEDs, usually featuring vendor/factory preset options. The positive of a grid system is the factory preset options where the performance of even illumination is repeatable every time. These options typically are easy to use by rolling out the LED grid.



With this option, the existing fluorescent parts are no longer needed. The LED grid system can be installed in several customer choice options from an LED vendor track (easy) to your fabrication preferences. If not using the vendor track, it can be as simple as adding a lightweight angle to both top and bottom raceways and securing the grid system. Another is to use the angle on one end of the grid and a spring with an eye hook and J clip ... another very easy and resourceful option.



Stick System


There are many "stick" options that somewhat simulate the existing fluorescent mindset. However, as with fluorescent, there are considerations to take into consideration:


Sign face to lht source if single-faced, and face to face if double-faced. This depth/distance has a direct effect on the final acceptance. Not all fluorescent hot spotting was caused by bad face painting in the days past. It was not common knowledge and not always shared that your lamp to lamp fluorescent spacing was 2x the distance from the face to the lamp. Again, in the old days, most shops put fluorescents on 12" centers as a rule of thumb.

标识表面如果是单面发光的就需要单向光源,如果是双面发光的就需要双向光源。安装的深度和距离都会对最终的成果验收有着直接的影响。不是所有的发光字表面的污点都是由以前的喷涂失误造成的。灯与灯之间的光照距离是人脸到灯光的距离的2倍,这件事情鲜有人知,因此,以前大多数商店在安装荧光灯照明时往往会遵守 12" 中心法则。

My talking point here is you need to take this into consideration if you "think" you can use every fluorescent socket spacing as is. The premise is good, but the site survey will determine the information you should know. And remember, LEDs are directional, thus the same spacing considerations that are prevalent with letters is compounded with cabinets as the light bounce is contained in a larger volume/area.



Channel Letter Modules


If your absolute raw material cost is your only consideration, CLM might be your choice. With this option for single face, it can be pretty straight forward by mounting the CLM on the back of the cabinet. Naturally, depending on the cabinet construction, braces, etc., this can range from easy to more involved and needing additional considerations.


However, for CLM and double-face applications, it can get tricky. Traditional CLM are modules with light emitting from one side only, thus for double face you need to have a floating center piece to mount the CLM on, typically back to back. I have seen flat bars, clear plastic and even chicken wire grids. Your LED vendor should have a track mounting system for your consideration/use.


In my humble opinion, there is just too much liability associated with this CLM option; labor can be very high depending on the size, permanent attachment labor can be daunting and there’s a general liability risk of individual CLMs falling off during transit. Both previous options offer better long-term solutions with less liability for you.


In closing, my approach here is based on general industry experiences over the history of LED in our industry and is not intended to disparage your choice. Additionally, I am defaulting to the simple business understanding of why we are all in business, and that is to make money offering honest products and long-term solutions. I do not believe in lowering my standards and raw costs with the hope of making it up on the service side. I feel my customers are simply too smart, and I want them to see me as a "solution" that benefits them today, tomorrow and in the long term. And if you have read any of my numerous industry articles since the ’90s, I always end with "Buyer Beware," and I do believe that. Do your research because knowledge is everything.