Digital signage thermal management 101
Every outdoor digital signage project is different, there is no one size fits all solution. However, every outdoor screen installation does have one thing in common… thermal management. Getting temperature control right is the difference between a long-lasting solution and one that fails.
A typical list of things to think about when installing an outdoor digital signage network can include:
- Number of screens
- Type of electronics (media player etc…)
- The operating temperature of electronics
- Daily solar load
- Screen brightness
- Portrait or landscape configuration
- Installation location
- Mounting configuration
- Screen enclosure construction
This list is not exhaustive, and each of these factors can affect the lifespan of an outdoor digital signage system. However, temperature control is the most critical thing to consider when planning the deployment of outdoor LCD screens
Why is thermal management important?
…Why? Imagine getting into a stationary car after it has been in the sun all day, or sat idle in freezing cold temperatures during winter… When you get into a vehicle that's been in the sun for a few hours, without moving, the internal temperature is generally hotter than the external temperature.
Equally, when you get into a car that's been stationary for hours during a cold spell, the internal temperature tends to be much lower than the external temperature. In both instances, what's missing is airflow.
In hot weather, you would turn on your car's air conditioning or fans and set them to the coldest temperature. You might even open the windows when travelling to get some fresh air circulating. In cold weather, you'd crank up the heat while keeping your windows firmly shut.
In the same way that your car requires thermal management, outdoor digital signage requires temperature control to keep your screens and other electronic equipment, operational.
To get the outdoor digital signage specification that your project requires, it's likely that you will need a custom solution, equipped with the proper heating and cooling elements that have been expertly designed by an engineer to suit your requirements.
It's unlikely that any digital signage manufacturer has a ready-made, off-the-shelf system that's designed to accommodate all screen sizes and incorporates the exact thermal management technology you need.
LCD outdoor digital signage enclosures
With that in mind, you need a solution that gives you the flexibility to incorporate the temperature control technology you need to suit the climate and thermal management challenges associated with your installation.
Custom-made, LCD outdoor digital signage enclosures represent the best solution, capable of keeping screens operational in temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius (-22 -degrees Fahrenheit) and as high as 55 -degrees Celsius (131 -degrees Fahrenheit) depending on the type of thermal management technology used.
However, there is a science to configuring the right LCD enclosure to suit any environment, so don't rush your project. It's better to work with a longer lead time to cover all your bases rather than rushing your project, resulting in outdoor digital signage system failure, leading to replacement or premature repairs.
When sourcing an LCD enclosure solution, consider what will happen to your electronics should the internal temperature exceed the operating temperature of your screens and media players etc.
Scientific studies have proven that for every 10-degree Celsius increase above the recommended operating temperature of electronics, the life of that electronic equipment is halved!
On a clear, hot day – similar to the car situation earlier – the internal temperature of an outdoor digital signage enclosure will rise. If your screens and media players are exposed to excessive heat for a sustained period of time, they will cease to work – potentially making any warranties, void.
Equally, in cold and wet conditions, poor thermal management can result in condensation build-up and freezing electrical components. The outcome is the same - your outdoor digital signage system will fail.
However, working with an experienced and reputable LCD enclosure designer and manufacturer will ensure that your solution is equipped with the right temperature control technology needed to keep your outdoor digital signage operating.
Types of thermal management for LCD outdoor digital signage enclosures
In temperatures ranging from -5 -degrees Celsius (23 -degrees Fahrenheit) to 35 -degrees Celsius (95 -degrees Fahrenheit) – an LCD enclosure equipped with filter fans, an air curtain, plus an internal heating system will suffice for thermal control. The combination of filter fans and an air curtain ensure that heat is adequately dissipated and cool air is circulated throughout the enclosure.
Meanwhile, incorporating an internal heating system ensures that temperature levels are adequate enough for electronic components to operate in colder weather.
A combination of filter fans, an air curtain, plenum chambers, an internal heating system and foam insulation equip LCD enclosures for use in temperatures ranging from -30 -degrees Celsius (-22 -degrees Fahrenheit) to 35 -degrees Celsius (95 -degrees Fahrenheit).
The addition of foam insulation prevents heat loss from within the enclosure, giving LCD enclosures an extra layer of thermal management in sub-zero climates. Meanwhile, incorporating plenum chambers ensures that enclosures have an even air distribution.
Enclosures can be equipped with air conditioning technology to keep screens operable in temperatures as high as 55 -degrees Celsius (131 -degrees Fahrenheit), while incorporating filter fans, an air curtain, an internal heating system and foam insulation to provide complete thermal management control inside an outdoor digital signage enclosure.
Image via Armagard
Daniel Waldron Daniel is the Head of Content for award-winning, outdoor digital signage enclosure manufacturer, Armagard. Daniel blogs frequently on digital signage, while overseeing the complete content marketing mix and social media feeds for Armagard. www