Thursday, August 9, 2012

LED Manufacturer "Value Line" Options vs High Quality Standard

There are many approaches that LED sign manufacturers take when offering product. Some companies have different levels of quality and associated price for their product, others offer fewer options focusing on providing their best product to everyone. I would like to offer my insight into these different approaches. 

The "Value Line"

There will always be a market for low-end products with a rock bottom price. Manufacturers who offer these “value line” products are trying to expand market share and exposure. These types of LED signs typically use less sophisticated hardware (usually an embedded ARM controller) and tend to be built using lower quality components sourced from inexpensive overseas suppliers.

They usually come with a shorter warranty period (typically 1-2 years), and less long term support and parts availability. The software can be different from the manufacturer’s standard package and sometimes developed by the overseas supplier directly.

Of course the big benefit for the value line product is the affordability. Many organizations who would normally not be able to get an LED sign, now have the option to do so. Unfortunately the low price also comes with a higher risk of spending extra time and money on service calls and poorly designed hardware and software. The performance of these signs can often leave customers disappointed that the actual product doesn’t look as good as the manufacturer’s brochure. Over time, the market share gained by the manufacturer turns into a host of unhappy customers and no positive referrals.  

The High Quality Standard Approach

The other approach is to offer only the best product to everyone by providing a high quality product for a fair price. Balancing price and quality into a standard product can be a difficult thing to do for any manufacturer, but some do it very well. In this industry you get what you pay for, as long as you do your research first.This is important to remember because some suppliers will charge a high price for a perceived high quality product, but delivering a standard or value line product instead.

Higher quality signs use better components. This includes using a more powerful controller like an IPC (industrial PC) and internal video components that provide a higher refresh rate, frame rate, and pixel resolution. The LED driver components are better and have a longer lifetime. These are usually sourced from local or high end overseas suppliers.

The warranty should be at least 5 years on a standard product, and some manufacturers offer labor warranties as well. In this economy, a good warranty should be underwritten by a third party to make sure the warranty and parts are always available regardless of the manufacturers status.

Personally, I like the High Quality Standard approach. If you do something well, focus on it and do it well. The lure of expanding profits and market share have distracted many manufacturers, causing the product quality (and often profits) to suffer in the long run. This is bad for the customer and the industry in general. As I noted earlier, the key is to supply a quality product for a fair price. Do your research, and make sure you really get what you pay for.

An LED sign is a big investment and it should reflect the quality and pride of everyone involved, from the component suppliers to the manufacturer to the dealer and finally to the local business or organization using the sign every day.

- Scott Hofheins

I hope this post has been informative and helpful. As usual, I welcome ALL constructive comments. Please feel free to comment and add anything I’ve missed, or additional tips you may have regarding this topic. Please visit for many other resources, white papers, and of course: Great looking LED Signs!

**All posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically stated.

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