LED Walls: 7 Biggest Considerations Before Purchasing an LED Wall
Posted on Sep 29, 2021 3:06:15 PM
Part 2 of 5 in the LED Walls series
In this article, we examine the top considerations involved when buying an LED Wall. Researching and selecting the proper components ensures you will end up with a quality product that exceeds your expectations.
LED Walls are composed of multiple Panels that each contain hundreds of individual Pixels. An individual pixel is capable of producing Red, Green, or Blue light. Each pixel is controlled individually by a Processor in order to reproduce an image. When looking at LED Panel specifications you may see information about Pixel Pitch, Mask Ratio, Frequency Tolerance and overall Pixel Count. Each of these is covered in detail in our Deep Dive article. But in summary, the smaller the Pixel Pitch, the higher the overall resolution and the cost.
The Refresh Rate indicates how many times per second the image refreshes. A high Refresh Rate becomes most important when the LED Wall is viewed on camera. LED Walls in particular are capable of incredibly high Refresh Rates; however, the most common rates are 1920Hz or 3840Hz. This is one of the easiest distinctions between bottom-tier LED Walls (<1920Hz) and their quality competitors.
Essentially, the Processor is the engine that drives the LED Wall, and they are purchased separately from the LED Panels themselves. Selecting a Processor depends on several factors. First, the total Pixel Count will determine how many processors may be required. Additional feature sets to consider include Color Balance, Refresh Rates, Remote Connectivity/Network Control. Check out this article for detailed information specifically about LED Wall Processors.
Reliability and Serviceability:
Issues with LED Walls are inevitable. It is not a question of “if”, but “when”.
When dealing with millions of individual pixels and solder joints, as well as power supplies, data ports, etc., an issue will inevitably arise. It is critical to understand how easy it will be to separate the individual quadrants from the Panel for service. Are they front-serviceable or only removable from the rear? Can the power supply be swapped on site? Can the Control Module be replaced onsite? Overall, how serviceable are the panels?
Quality LED products will carry MET or UL Certification and will be FCC-Compliant. While FCC Certification is not required, it is certainly recommended. These certifications verify that all safety protocols have been met or exceeded. By maintaining these certifications, the brand demonstrates a level of consistency across its product which speaks to the overall quality of the manufacturing process.
FCC Certified products maintain tighter tolerances for electromagnetic and radio frequency (RF) interference. Wireless microphones, beltpacks, instruments, antennas, etc are all susceptible to RF interference. When this interference becomes severe, you may be able to hear crackling, pops or even complete dropouts on these wireless devices. Choosing an LED Wall that meets FCC standards and properly scanning RF frequencies when configuring your wireless devices are both critical steps in the setup process.
Warranty and Repair Support:
Even among top manufacturers, it is not uncommon for an individual pixel to lose an individual color or fail altogether. However, mitigating the scale of the issues upfront by selecting a quality manufacturer that honors their warranty and maintains a dedicated Service team will greatly reduce the visible effect to your viewers and the stress associated with getting the panel repaired. The last thing anyone needs is to replace a component of the system only to find out that the expected repair time is months or even years, or worse still that the part isn’t available. Perhaps the worst-case scenario - although sadly not uncommon - is learning that the bottom-tier manufacturer that made the wall no longer even exists. At that point, any warranty is irrelevant. Therefore, it is critical to select a manufacturer that not only produces a quality product, but that also has a robust Service Team and longevity within the industry.
Spares and Backups:
When considering how many individual components make up an LED wall, it is absolutely imperative to keep spares on site. Generally, it is recommended to keep 10% of the total number of panels onsite as backups. This also allows you flexibility if you ever decide to change the layout of the wall and need additional panels. However, if you foresee the need to be incredibly flexible with layout, purchase the maximum number of panels you might need upfront. That way every panel is part of the same original manufacturing batch using the same products. Purchasing full backup panels also means you have backup power supplies and control modules as well. However, you can also purchase quadrants and even individual diodes from the same batch separately to reduce cost.
Lastly, purchasing spares up-front ensures that all LED Diodes are manufactured and installed at the same time as the original panels. Over time you will often see slight deviations in design, quality, brightness and color generation as new batches are created. These changes become very apparent as new panels are introduced to an existing design. Purchasing backups along with your primary panels help ensure they match seamlessly. This is less of a concern with Top-Tier manufacturers who maintain much tighter Quality Control Standards, but should certainly be taken into consideration with mid- and lower-cost options.