By Erik Sine
Competition Light NOT "Usable Light"
As some of you may already know The Sign Syndicate has been testing NC LEDs since 2010 in Project Tighty Whitey, The Red Light District, & Blue Light Special and after the first 8,000 hours I was pretty impressed in "PTW", even in that short about of time we saw no light degradation (Lumen Maintenance). So I was always interested to see how they progressed, err....regressed in light as time went on.
As many of you know, I don't use LEDs as a primary light source for channel letters unless I have too.
When I have had to use LEDs over the years I've always been real careful about what LED manufacturer I use, and there is a VERY, VERY short list of who I use/used because I'm one of the few electric sign manufacturers that offers my clients a 5 year electrical "Worry Free" warranty that INCLUDES labor to change any electrical component out and I stress....."I"...chose to use for their sign.
For this very reason you can pretty much chuck most LED marketing brochures in the garbage that states their LED's last 50,000+ hours of operation without loosing any light output. Most of the time they've never even tested their own to see how long they last of they take a result of 2 to 5 thousand hours and project to you the consumer those results which usually show little to none and project them in a slow gradual path of light loss. You can't do that that with LED's, but you can when it comes to light degradation with Neon & Fluorescents who have a much larger case history to go off of and it's just phosphor loss unlike LEDs which have so much more to loose.
Most sign shops stick to the 1 year state mandatory (contractors licensing law) warranty, and "optional" or limited component warranty that does NOT include labor for up to 5 years. So should some component YOU chose crap out on your client then I guess they call you, you get a free replacement from the manufacturer and YOU end up charging YOUR client to replace something YOU specified out.....oh real nice!!!
With my clients I put my money where my mouth is, so that's why my list of who to use is short, if it goes bad because of what I specified out I eat it, NOT my client!!!
5 years is a long time, and those who pay attentions to the 3rd party testing that The Sign Syndicate has been doing since 2008 knows most LEDs don't last as long as claimed, at least when it comes to "usable" light.
I've been using NC LED for a particular program for a few years now where I have to use LEDs because the use of electrical component clearance is impossible for Neon. Over the years the results have been awesome using NC LED, and of course happy clients.
The main reason why I choose to use NC LED for my program before we even started selling it here which is obviously recent, is because from the testing we have been doing here namely Project Tighty Whitey as it applies here.....there are a few things in common the brighter white LEDs in the comparison that last longer than others have in common.
1st....Their made in Korea, very tight quality control, think "Japan"!.......NOT China where they have quality control issues. Don't let anyone tell you different, there is too much of a track record and case history for INCONSISTENCY and manufacturers have to constantly hold the hand of the Chinese to make sure they're getting consistency and this is why American companies play musical chairs with Chinese plants who make their products.
2nd....Their constant current, or current regulated on each module...NOT constant voltage aka "Eco". So if you're not familiar with that term Constant Current just know each module is 12 volts from the first to the last on a string. A LED module that is ...NOT CC is constant voltage, aka "Eco"! Those are unregulated and the first LED module on a string is different than the LED on the last, or middle. It also means the first LED on the string could be taking a big hit from the power supply because it's not regulated and you'll get faster degradation as well as uneven lighting.
CONSTANT CURRENT vs CONSTANT VOLTAGE
This is not to say others that aren't with similar characteristics will last nearly as long (there have been exceptions), in past versions degradation over 15,000 hours or 5 sign years is left on 8 hours a day has been about 0 to 3% of the original illumination, that's something that should interest you and the end user, and newer versions only get better with heat dissipation.
NC LED come with three different diode manufacturers, SOL, LG, & Samsung ("Reckless"). I took a personal hand for us to use SAMSUNG, their white is brighter than the other configurations, it's more of a true 6500 white, and you need bright! The LED colors that we stock are SOL chip.
Every LED manufacturer has their marketing claims on Lumens, Viewing Angle, Lens..no lens, etc etc etc. From the Neon & LED testing we have been doing here on the Sign Syndicate they can throw all that out the window because it doesn't translate into anywhere when it comes to the sign industry, how we use them, and how it makes them last over time. 90% of the time it's just a sales pitch to throw at you on why you should buy their over another one. Who cares about Lumens when it comes to signs...we light up a sign face and only care about surface light! Viewing angle??? Don't get me started!
What do we care about being in the sign industry? That it's bright, and most importantly it lasts over time....well...at least the client does more so than the sign sign shop because it's them who will have to pay to re-retrofit to something else.
So, we're very happy to offer the NC LED "Reckless" light source product to our members that we know works as an option for your sign projects here on The Sign Syndicate. It's nice to add another High Brightness LED to our line up, AND the Reckless-2 is the brightest LED in it's class of under 1 watt per module and under 3 watts per foot than anything on the market today!
If you're the type of shop that just likes to stick to big name LED manufacturers because you think you're playing it safe and you're also not too familiar with the testing The Sign Syndicate has been doing since 2008 let me just say this. From all the testing we have been doing with out benchmark testing, and we've talked about it a lot in the past. You pay a lot of money to big name LED manufacturers and the product itself is most of the time is average and most a lot of times subpar compared to what's out there from a few small select LED manufacturers. You pay a lot and you get very little. What I mean by that is, you don't get a whole lot of light in return and you could pay significantly less and get a brighter light output and a product that will even last longer. Not all big names, but you'll have to download the quarterly results that we have in the Board forum and judge for yourself.
Like I said, there are VERY good results from a FEW select companies in Project Tighty Whitey and NC LED is one of those few, AND that's why I'm very proud to offer it to our members.
Why leave money on the table choosing someone else and why not have a more satisfied client using NC LED?
NC LEDs come in both forms, Constant Current "Reckless" as well as Constant Voltage "Eco"(ECO Series), we will be concentrating on the Constant Current versions of these LEDs
Basic NC LED Specs
• 5 Year, 50,000 Hour Warranty
• Constant Current (Regulated) not Constant Voltage like cheaper "eco" LEDs
• Made in Korea.....NOT made in China
• High Brightness LEDs
• Samsung Diodes for white
• Sol Diodes for color
As I stated above, we're offering 100 of the most versatile NC LED "Reckless" Modules which is the two diode Samsung configuration, the Reckless-2 powered by Samsung for only $79.99
Specification Cut Sheets (Updated 4/25/16)
NC SS Brochure.pdf
Lastly I need to mention that I power up these bad boys with our also Korean made LED Power Supplies by Union Elecom
So if you're burning out those cheap import Chinese LED power supplies, (even the so called "Engineered In America...Made In China.." type) and you can't figure out why after loading your power supply to a safe 50 watts on your 60 watt power supply which REALLY may only be able to handle a 40 watt load because of make, convection cooling, and due to the environment in which it's in you might want to get a hold of their derating curve chart and see what your product may be able to handle. Plastic power supplies = NOT good.
So....we now stock the Union Elecom Class II, Listed, 60 watt and 120 watt (Dual channel) LED Power Supplies. These LED Power Supplies are IP68, and fitted with 1/2" nipples so you can simply hook up the primary with a junction box that has 1/2" thread knock-outs so you don't need a Transformer Box to house your power supply for remote installs.
Again, why Union Elecom if you're not familiar with the name or company?
First, their Korean, that means high quality standards. This is what they do, this is what they do best....they make power supplies.....solely! Unlike some other companies who offer power supplies but it's not their primary focus, they really make LEDs or other products as their primary. They just "offer" a power supply to go with their LED's. THAT can be bad and as we all know, we've seen plenty of failure on the field whr we have to come back and replace over and over again!
UNION ELECOM LED POWER SUPPLY
Members can purchase these LEDs by phone (858) 880-1400, emailing us email@example.com or use our online Shopping Cart LINK
By Erik Sine
January 2016 Electric Sign Industry Neon & LED Test Comparison Results
Below are the various categories of our test results made available for the electric sign industry. You can download the newest Sign Syndicate test comparison .pdf result sheet at the bottom of every Light Project Test entry with the most current date from the links below.
Please remember....we have now made these light testing results available to you for free. If you feel like you have learned/gained something from these results or found that these results have saved you money by choosing one product over another please help support us in upgrading your free membership, or by purchasing various sign supplies we have available for you & your company. Many of our sign supply products are usually well below what you might pay for at one of the mainstream sign suppliers and some are bundles with free shipping. We've attached many various banners to the results in hope something may grab your eye.
As always, enjoy the results and hope you learn as we do going down this adventurous path!
The Great White Hope II (Year 1 & 2) The high powered white Neon & LED test comparison for large channel letters and sign cabinets, comprised of high powered LED modules 1watt+/3watt per foot+ and above with Tri-Phosphor Neon Lamps. (8,000+ hrs)
This month we added in NC's HLC4 Samsung High Powered 1.8 watt Constant Current LED
January 2013 Evaluation Download: GreatWhiteHopeII 010316.pdf
Project Tighty Whitey - (Year 5 & 6) - The white exclusive LED only test comparison for mid (.95 modules or 2.99 per foot watt modules and below) to mini sized LED modules. (40,000+ hrs)
This month we added in Hanley LED's Peregrine.
January 2013 Evaluation Download:ProJectTight 010316.pdf
The Red Light District - (Year 3 & 4) - The Red Neon & LED channel letter light source test comparison. (34,000+ hrs)
January 2013 Evaluation Download:RedL010316.pdf
Border Security - (Year 3 & 4)- The Neon & LED border tube lamp test comparison. (23,000+ hrs)
January 2013 Evaluation Download:BorderSec 010316.pdf
Blue Light Special - (Year 1 & 2) - The Blue Neon & LED test comparison for channel letter. (13,000+ hrs)
January 2013 Evaluation Download:BlueLight 010316.pdf
By Erik Sine
Originally Posted Mar 15 2014 05:43 PM
The Great White Hope II - (Year 1 & 2)
February 2014 - Present
The only thing we ask is, if you like what you see and if it helps you make better buying decisions for your sign applications that you build then you can support us and the tests we do by either upgrading your free membership to a Board Patron which has it's additional benefits or by purchasing electrical sign supplies that we sell here on The Sign Syndicate as you'll see in the test result sheets!
One thing that we don't sell here on The Sign Syndicate for the exact reasons of these tests is sell Neon Glass or LED Modules because I know most would think us bias if we did. So because of this, we'll only sell electrical sign supplies that compliment these light sources such as LED power supplies, and neon wiring & Transformers etc.
You'll also notice a lot of Light Source MFG's signed up here on the Sign Syndicate and submitted their lamps for the testing. Some did not, and you'll see "Non-Willing Participant" next to their name in the Tutorial product listings. Most did not want to because they did not want to be compared to their competition or called out on their claims when they show up to your shop and tell you you should buy theirs because they are superior to their competition. Well, all we can do here is include some of those MFG's anyway and throw them up on the board and see where they might fall. We hope some of them at some point join us and take part because they want to. They ALL have an open invitation to do so. We thinks it's a good idea and there is a lot to learn and most of the time it just begs more questions than results can answer. If you are a Light source manufacturer interested in having your lamps included then please upgrade your free membership to a Board Vendor (which includes a free advertising package for the duration of your membership) and submit your lamps
I first to want to start off by thanking everyone who has been involved with this project from the start and continue to make it better, I want to specially thank Telford Dorr for this immeasurable measurements, Marko of YYZ LED Systems for helping to move this project in a better direction and the Vendors who have participated with their products for this comparison.
Though 6500 SW is the standard here for comparison you'll see a variation of whites, not all are of course in the same ballpark, but you will see where pending the application you might choose one over the other.
You might see some edits done on this tutorial over the course an that is because information may/will change.
Every month power readings and light output readings will be added to this tutorial. Other tests may also be done not yet defined at this point. A picture will also be taken with the same settings and placement.
First, The Great White Hope II is for high powered LEDs 1watt + and above, all others below are for Project Tighty Whitey. This is also for Neon & Tri-Phosphor Neon Lamps.
Like our other tests, we are taking period reads and measuring the light output of every single light source in our test right on the sign face which is made up of a 8" x 8" marked square on the same spot every time and we average the highs and lows.
For the initial power consumption measuring for the LEDs we are using a GW Instek programmable power supply. This PS measure and tells us what each string pulls as if the power supply they were on is running at 100% efficiency. Why we do it this way is because the power supply YOU use for your applications will vary and we want to level the plain field.
On the Neon side of things we are just going to use the age old France Footage/Watt Chart, this is also to assume the neon is running on a typical magnetic power supply. We are also not including the 1 extra foot of power consumption per pair of electrodes per lamp because this would greatly skew the numbers of small 2' light sources.
The main thing about this benchmark test is that we are looking at lumen maintenance and how much each product will hold up over time and monitor the light degradation. One thing I wish we could measure and monitor is the color shift over time of each product. Maybe we will get access to a spectrometer in the future because there is a huge shift of some products over time and we will notice in our yearly shots that we take for comparison.
SIGN CHANNEL STRUCTURE
Well, instead of the large sectioned out cabinet we had for the first Great White Hope this time we did assimilated to our other tests and fabricated individual channels for each light source.
LIGHT SOURCE PRODUCT LIST (Top to Bottom)
Axiom LED AXLE9XB 13mm EGL DL 61 ((Tri-Phosphor 60ma) *-Non-Willing Participant 15mm Voltarc 6500 SW *-Non-Willing Participant 13mm Voltarc 6500 SW *-Non-Willing Participant 15mm FMS TC 6500 (Tri-Phosphor) 15mm Glostertube 6500 6500 166 (Tri-Phosphor) 13mm EGL DL61 (Tri-Phosphor) 13mm Voltarc Tri-Lite *-Non-Willing Participant 12mm FMS TC6500 (Tri-Phosphor) Permlight El Plato HO *-Non-Willing Participant GOQ LED *-Non-Willing Participant GE Tetra Power Max *-Non-Willing Participant International Light Technologies Summit Sloan GW4 *-Non-Willing Participant Permlight Twister *-Non-Willing Participant Hyco CooChip SIGN COMPONENTS
1/8" Cyro #7328 White Acrylic Lens Faces CCFL Transformers- Ventex 6030/60CL CCFL Transformers- Ventex 6030/30CL Axiom 60 Watt Class II LED Power Supplies Transco TC200 Porcelain Housings FMS Neon Tube Supports Plasco Trim Cap
This project is never stopping, it runs for two 10 hour cycles a day 365 days a year
NEON & LED POWER:
Unlike the first Great White Hope where we had dedicated power sources for each lamp are are copying our other light test projects that consist of all light sources on a shared power supply. For the LEDs are are using the surplus military grade Axiom LED Power Supplies left over from the GWH (So to continue their endurance at 40k+ operating hours) because of the manual DC voltage set screw to assure we have exactly 12volts across all LED strings to level the playing field. For all Neon Lamps we are using our surplus SST Ventex Neon Transformers to again, continue to monitor their endurance as well at 40k+ hours of operation. All Neon lamps are on a shared SST.
EARLY TEST PICTURES
Finally lighting up all the neon side of the project
The same for the LED side
The back side of the project
March 15, 2014
Today is the first evaluation since the project has been ongoing. The only thing we have in news is that as usual all the Neon lamps are taking their initial lumen maintenance that comes in the first 1000 or so hours then we'll see them plane off gradually.
Below are the pics of the class of 2014.
I'm just going to show off one pic of the Neon, because no one will be able to distinguish one from the other.
Permlight's El Plato HO
GE's Tetra Power Max
GOQ's Quad Chip LED
International Light Technologies Summit
I'm currently looking to add US LED's Quasar 3, Osram, and Agilight and whatever other LED manufacturers decide to join us in this ongoing comparison project.
In a short observation we're already seen a 16% drop in light output from the CooChip and we'll see what happens next period.
Just this month a national sign company gave us a few strings of AgiLight LEDs that they wanted to see in our various tests that they also use for a national sign program. The string that we will be putting up for GWH II will be the Apex series, this will be for April.
Some of the LEDs we have in our tests come from sign companies who are curious about the performance of products they use, and when doing so it helps us all out and we all learn.
MARCH 2014 EVALUATION DOWNLOAD
SEPTEMBER 2014 EVALUATION
It's been some time. In August we added Axiom LEDs AXLE9XB module at 14.7 volts on a dedicated power supply, the LEDs come in at 1.6 watts each.
We're a little over a month of reporting these late September results and about two weeks short of doing Novembers. It's been some time so I may add or make changes to the above information.
The download sheet for September can be found here