By Erik Sine
I haven't posted any jobs lately and I need to play catch up.
So I'll start with our latest projects and work myself backwards
As we've discussed so many times on the Sign Syndicate. There is a time to retrofit, and a time not too. Neon and Fluorescent lamps/systems should not in most cases be retrofitted to LEDs unless accessibility calls for it. Otherwise, it doesn't make financial sense for the consumer to do so, or....just so a shop can make a project sale on BS energy efficiency numbers and mythical saving $$$$
So here are some retrofit jobs that make REAL sense.
Here's a chain of Studio's that I've been doing since the early 2000's.
This particular sign is only partially mine, everything from the Logo and red letters.
This was the first job I did for them leading up to fabricating all new signs for their locations. The white is from the previous location and Neon has been in it's original form since the late 90's, and it's 6500K Snow White. The logo is 15mm Tri-phosphor, Elite 65D I believe. The Logo and Red was done in 2008. It's very hard to tell because red and white is hard to capture and a cell phone cam does no justice but the White lettering is dimmer than illustrated and is about 50% of it's original light output.
Not bad for 20+ plus year old lamps!!
So the owner called up and wanted a revamp. Had I been the average shop you bet the immediate response would have been LED! SAVINGS!!!!! BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT!
We're logical over here in SoCal, a land where 50¢ modules would have replaced the Lamp Art.
The logical choice, and more economical choice for the consumer?
Going from a single halo phosphate 6500K Snow White Neon lamp to a Tri-Phosphor EGL Designer 7100 Series Lamps.
When we moved and installed (2008) this sign we did so with Tecnolux Silicone GTO and Caps. All that was needed for this retrofit was new lamps, and leaving the awesome silicone GTO and transformers in place!
Now, I owe you a night shot, the iphone pic I took was garbage, so I'll update that soon. But the Logo and White letters match up well, and even with the old faces, the sign illuminates like a new sign at night.
Forgot to mention, the white faces are also from the 90's and they've held up quite well, the Trim Cap is Plasco, also held up quite well for 20+ years old. During the day, the ace look good, so no need to replace.
So a new client...
They called, they were moving and wanted to know if they needed a new sign or whether to fabricate a whole new on because the current was lit up like crap. Had hot spots, dim a places, and just crazy outages in sections of letters.
It would have been better had I taken night pics, BUT...I didn't know I would be posting and writing about it here so
Had this been some other shop, I'm sure the nightmare would have continued
Yes, two different LED manufacturers in the same sign Woohoo, the electric sign industry in it's finest form right here! It made me SO proud!
If you're familiar with Gaverieli Plastics, I need say no more, let alone Chinese JS LED's....well, their both China and their both crap.
They don't last, they fail, they cause companies problems with having to go back and replace and most importantly...They cost the consumer, YOUR client.
The second sign which they had, made at a different time and by another company was US LED, also garbage. Illumination was just as bad. Sorry, didn't get pics of that sign because again, it wasn't my plan to make a post here
If this wonderful, thoughtful sign package doesn't make you cry, I don't know what will.
The original plastic was green vinyl over white acrylic and in such a short time this sign was beat, and probably why they called a new contractor for the work for their sign move.
Well, a new sign made no sense.
They were just moving a few suites over and they weren't going to get a larger sign so the original would do. New faces with 3M Lime Green over White acrylic.
The most important aspect of this Sign....
NC Reckless-3 LEDs. Top Tier Samsung Diodes running on a Constant Current system...NOT Constant Voltage. 1.2 watt modules. Most important detail about our NC Reckless LEDs? Their made in Korea NOT CHINA!!!
Check out that crazy light meter reading! That's almost 300 surface Foot Candles, which is about the equivalent light output to a 13mm Tri-phosphor white Neon Lamp behind white acrylic.
If that is not simply utterly gross and disgusting, and you're not just sickened by that number, you have no stomach
These Reckless-3 LEDs will NOT be powered up by their low budget power supplies but rather our Union LED Power Supplies made in KOREA, not CHINA!!!
It's usually best to retrofit out with what was already in a sign, and not change one light source to another. It's makes more financial sense in MOST cases, not all, but most.
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 $89.99
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
So....we've had them and I haven't been pushing them out because I didn't think they were right yet.
But now that time has come.
Been to a few shops of customers and when I saw what I saw, I had to push for it. It's al because one of my customers recently obtained a new AdamsTech Bender. So now he's producing Channel Letters, reverse Channel Letters that are so small and tight the worry is no longer being capable of producing such a letter the worry is now....how the hell to power it up PROPERLY. It's hard to put existing modules in, competent LED modules I mean.
Well....In mid to late September we will have NC LED White Horse Nano (Far right)
Their 160˙, same top tier Samsung used in our White Horse Product Line. Their about 4 per foot and power consumption will be .48 per module.
If the Reckless 2, and White Horse 2 weren't already small enough as is, the White Horse Line will fit and integrate into all those hard to reach places and give you a bright light output