We're often asked if LED message centers are eco-friendly. Business owners know that green products are more than just good for the planet. Signs that consume less energy are a better investment for business owners, so they are excited to learn that electronic message centers (also EMCs or digital signs) accomplish both goals.
There are a number of ways that EMCs are friendly to the environment, but it's still important to ask questions before buying.
High efficiency LEDs can last up to 10 times longer than traditional lighting sources, which reduces waste. Bulb units use more energy per watt and are more likely to malfunction due to the heat they generate. They just don't compare with LEDs.
Fewer expired LEDs are thrown into landfills, and there are big production and transportation energy savings since fewer replacement lights must be manufactured. Ideally, the digital sign manufacturer has proof of its efficient technology, such as certifications, or has plans to increase LED efficiency. All of these factors will help you reduce the time and money you spend operating your digital sign.
EMCs are continually making efficiency gains. Today's LEDs use less than half the energy of LEDs available just three years ago. In addition, manufacturers of EMCs have made design improvements that decrease energy needs, some seeing reductions in the maximum amps required to operate EMCs by nearly 60 percent.
Look for manufacturers that have been UL certified for energy efficiency. Compare the energy requirements of similar sized signs at full power. Look for signs that don't need air conditioners or heaters, that feature automatic dimming at sundown and the ability to adjust brightness during the day, all of which save energy.
Many EMCs are designed for the long haul, which is easier on landfills and saves the energy that would be spent manufacturing and transporting replacement signs. EMCs with a modular design can be efficiently maintained by changing out modules instead of replacing an entire sign.
Ask manufacturers how their signs will hold up to the conditions in your area. Look for signs that are encapsulated in silicone gel.
Many of the components comprising an EMC can be harvested and recycled when the sign is retired, including aluminum, copper, gold and polycarbonate plastic. In addition, the manufacturing process itself provides opportunities to reduce and recycle scrap from production.
Ask manufacturers about the composition of their EMCs and how they recommend disposing of retired signs. Also ask about practices at the plant to reduce and recycle scrap and save energy.
Pearman is a U.S. sales manager for LED sign and digital billboard manufacturer Watchfire.