LED Sign Lighting in 9 Easy Steps
LED sign lighting provides years of illumination and low energy costs. LED sign modules are the perfect way to illuminate signs, channel letters, display cases, and store windows of any size. Single-color and color-changing RGB modules are available in many different intensities to suit individual needs. Modules come prewired together and are available in strands of 25 or in custom lengths that can include up to 50 modules depending on the maximum run of the product. Because you receive them prewired and they have adhesive backings, installation is simple. In fact, the toughest part of LED sign module installation is determining how many are needed for your application. The materials listed below are for a 4-by-4-foot sign using single-color sign modules that consume 50mA of power each. Required materials differ depending on sign size, module size, length of wire between modules, current draw, and lumen output.
(150) Sign Modules (15 rows of 10)
120-Watt Power Supply
(15) Dual-Channel T-Tap Wire Splice Connectors
(15) Double-Sided Foam Pads
For complete light coverage across your sign, it is recommended that LED module rows are spaced 3 inches apart from the top to bottom of your sign. The diagram and steps below demonstrate how to install LED sign modules on a 4-foot square sign.
1. First, measure your sign. Although we recommend spacing module rows 3 inches apart, it’s ultimately up to you. If you want a brighter sign, place them closer together and vice versa for a dimmer sign. With the recommended 3-inch spacing, a 4-foot square sign would need 150 modules (15 rows of 10). Again, the quantity of modules needed is based on many factors and can differ.
These LED sign modules are available in custom lengths of up to 20 modules per strand. Order 60 feet (4 feet x 15 rows) of stranded modules, and cut the strand after every 10 modules. Each strand can be cut to make two rows.
2. Next you’ll need to order a power supply that’s rated for the combined wattage of all sign modules. To ensure that you don’t overwork the power supply, confirm that the total wattage of your modules is at least 20 percent less than the power supply’s rated wattage.
An easy way to calculate this is to multiply the total wattage of your combined lighting by 1.2. In the 4-foot sign diagram, there are 150 modules with a current draw of 50 milliamps (mA) each. Since current draw is given in milliamps, multiply that number by voltage and move the decimal 3 places to the left to get wattage. This module consumes 50 mA and has 12 VDC operation, so it consumes 0.6 watts (50 x 12 = 600). Next, multiply 0.6 by 150 to get a combined wattage of 90 and multiply that number by 1.2 (90 x 1.2 = 108) to determine which power supply you’ll need. Since the result was 108, you will need at least a 120-watt power supply.
3. Next on the list is wire to connect all your sign module stands to the power supply. For a 4-foot sign, you’ll need 4 feet of 18-gauge two-conductor wire to serve as your main line plus enough to cover the distance between your power supply and where it will be wired into an electrical system. You’ll also need dual-channel T-tap wire splice connectors for an easy connection to your main line.
Before you begin working on your sign, turn off power to the area.
4. If there isn’t one already, drill a hole in the back of your sign as an exit point for your wire.
5. Use a tape measure or ruler to plot your row spacing. Leave space on one side of the sign for your module-to-main-line connections. Mount the sign modules using their double-sided adhesive and/or screw holes.
6. Insert the end wires of each sign module row into the T-tap splice connector, and clamp the other end of the connector onto the main line. The splice connectors eliminate the need to strip wire insulation.
7. Use double-sided foam tape to secure each T-tap splice connector to the inside of your sign.
8. Reattach your sign’s front cover.
9. Connect the main line to your power supply, wire the supply into your electrical system, and restore power to the area.