Business, Digital Signage, Video

Ditch the Critters & Crud

Outdoor digital signage is a new ride in the electronics industry, and everyone is anxious to hop on. From enabling companies to convey longer mixed-media messages with looping content and showing top-of-the-line graphics on screens to scheduling data across entire parks with the click of a button, signs placed outdoors are drastically improving entertainment and advertising in outside environments. However, a passenger hopping on a new ride at an amusement park has the benefit of a ride-overview from a theme park associate and often even a breakdown of what to expect from informational boards. Shoppers looking for outdoor digital advertising options often don’t have a full understanding of what considerations are essential. Here are some important factors to contemplate when choosing weatherproof digital display solutions.

Outdoor DS Considerations
-Weather: Placing a digital sign outside is extremely different from placing one inside. Weather factors, such as heat, cold, rain, storms and moisture all come into play. Outdoor digital signage companies worth their salt have developed viable solutions for these challenges, such as AC, fan systems, heater install options, water-resistant sealing technologies and even moisture control kits that help absorb moisture that would otherwise seep inside the monitors and cause damage. Typically, an application in extreme heat or cold is going to require a significantly higher-cost weatherproof digital sign solution because upgraded AC, fan, heating and insulation features are required in those situations.

-Durability: Placing a regular indoor digital sign outside with no protection would be an issue for several reasons, but one of the most obvious is the breakability of the screen. Unfortunately, not all outdoor digital signage products are created equal in this regard. Temperature regulation and pleasing aesthetics are wonderful attributes for an outdoor digital sign solution, but strength is key.

For example, signs placed near a roller-coaster may be at risk of being hit by objects flying out of passengers’ pockets. This can often be a deciding factor during the buying process. Enclosures provide an added layer with a strong front panel that is not expensive to replace, as opposed to outdoor digital signs that usually don’t include the same level of protection for the screen.

-Sticky Fingers: Unfortunately, vandalism is a big issue for digital signage in general, and the same is true for outdoor digital display solutions. Be it spray paint, thrown objects or theft, digital signs left outdoors must have protection from people as much as they need defense against the elements.

Rendered Useless
-Critters & Crud: Beyond poor
weather conditions, outdoor TVs and signage can be rendered useless by critters nesting in wires and frying units, or grime accumulating in vents. It’s not a sexy topic; however, birds with no shame produce waste that can easily leak into electronics kept outdoors, including monitors. From bugs burrowing inside of, or eating, electronic components, to pests nesting on units, many creatures pose a threat to digital monitors placed outside.

Enclosures placed over outdoor displays usually eliminate these problems. When the University of Alabama was looking for a digital signage solution at Bryant Denny Stadium, the signs had to be water resistant to withstand wash-downs so they could be kept clean despite nesting birds and nearby food stands. Owners’ representatives and audio/video consultants Anthony James Partners issued an RFQ specifying the use of LG digital screens with The Display Shield enclosures, because the enclosures are sealed tight to protect displays from water damage and offered about a half a million dollars in savings over standard outdoor weatherproof signage solutions. Media Vision won the bid and installed the products before the 2014 football season began.

-Corrosion: Additionally, coastal businesses frequently deal with salt-air corrosion, which forces them to replace outdoor displays and TVs on a more frequent basis, which increases the overall cost of displays. Most outdoor digital signs and digital monitor enclosures are composed of metal, which corrodes rather easily. However, outdoor plastic display enclosures are available, and some are built to provide increased protection against salty air from the ocean.

-Glare: Glare is a sensitive topic in the outdoor digital signage industry because it is quite an obstacle in some applications. Digital signs placed in direct sun often reflect the light, creating disruptive glare across the display. For shops looking to place commercial digital signs in direct sun, weatherproof digital signage providers are working to offer the best possible solutions and most up-to-date technology.
Digital displays do best in sunlight when adjusted to the highest setting for screen brightness. Also, high-nit screens are the best in bright light. Antiglare films sold with signs and enclosures are helpful; some can reduce up to 90% of the glare. Many outdoor digital signage solutions use anti-reflective glass, which almost eliminates glare when viewing the screen from the front; however, off-axis viewing clarity is often still lacking. Investing in a larger display reduces the effects of the off-axis viewing issue.

Options
-Product Options: Being a newer category in the electronics market, there are only a few options available for putting digital signage outside. The leading solutions are outdoor displays and outdoor digital display enclosures. Outdoor displays offer some useful benefits in that they are typically aesthetically pleasing and usually come equipped to handle extreme weather conditions.

On the flip side, weatherproof digital display enclosures can be used to place any standard digital display outdoors, the benefit being that the cost of an indoor digital display paired with an enclosure is less expensive.

In addition, enclosures can be produced with outdoor plastics, which weigh significantly less than metal and are typically 50 to 75% less expensive.

-Cost: Outdoor digital signage and outdoor TVs can cost thousands of dollars, but innovative manufacturing processes are also producing signage options with a much smaller price tag. Typically, weatherproof digital signage systems that utilize monitors built for the outdoors tend to be more expensive, while the least pricey are protective display enclosures made of outdoor plastics.

Due to the complexities of some applications, as well as the weight and design of certain outdoor digital signage solutions, added labor costs may be a financial consideration. High charges for shipping larger units can also be a surprising added expense.

Replacing displays is possibly the least frequently considered budget-planning factor. All the bells and whistles on a digital display designed for outdoors are great, but when a screen gets broken, the entire unit usually needs to be replaced. Many integrators are opting for weatherproof digital display enclosures because of their durability and low maintenance expense. Additionally, integrators working with larger venues that require mass content delivery across several digital screens should consider the added cost of media delivery systems.

Whether the demand is for an outdoor digital advertising display, a menu board or a weatherproof TV, differing needs are arising across many industries to place digital media outside in a safe and cost-effective manner. Various players from the existing outdoor TV industry, as well as consumer TV brands, are now offering weatherproof signage solutions for the commercial market. For example, SunbrightTV expanded its product line beyond residential outdoor models to include weatherproof digital displays for businesses. Peerles-AV acquired Ciil Technologies LLC, a manufacturer of environmental/weatherproof outdoor digital signage displays in order to meet commercial application needs. Even Philips Signage Solutions recently partnered with Protective Enclosures Company to provide affordable outdoor digital display enclosures with high-tech digital monitors enclosed, bringing an advanced technology and lower price edge to the market. With the considerations checklist under one’s belt, shoppers are sure to enjoy the outdoor digital signage ride.

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