Buying Panels Do's and Don'ts
Panels are a very cool item to add to a display. They allow for much higher resolution graphics than our standard pixel matrix, and they definitely have a WOW factor. When buying panels, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
- Plan Ahead: A panel matrix can get expensive quick. In addition to the panels themselves, you need supporting hardware to power and control the matrix. You also need mounting equipment and infrastructure to assist in completing your panel build. Panels are made in batches and thus should not be be mixed and matched between batches. Before making the plunge into buying a panel matrix, make sure you know what size you want, and calculate all of the extras to ensure you stay in budget.
- Buy Extra: When panels are made, they are produced in batches. Those batches of panels are color corrected so that each panel color matches all the others in that batch. If you've ever been to a stadium and noticed one really strange looking square on a larger panel, most likely, you are seeing a replacement panel from a different batch. Can't we compensate for that? Yes, absolutely, if you know what you are doing. However, the software is complicated, and the results are not always perfect. It's always better to account for around 10% more panels than you need when creating your build-budget. This will ensure that if something gets damaged, the replacement will match in color.
- Power: Depending on the type of panel you choose, they can consume a lot of power, especially on full white. Make sure you keep your panels happy with a full supply of power. If you short-change your power, the panel may start blinking all shades of color while your power supply trips from overload.
- Indoor vs Outdoor Panels: There are many different types of panels, however, they usually fit into two categories, indoor and outdoor. Indoor panels are just that, they are made to be displayed in a climate controlled environment with a relatively normal humidity and temperature. They are not weather/water proof and will get damaged if they get wet. Outdoor panels are weatherproof on 4 of the 6 sides. The bottom usually has weep holes to let condensation out, and the back has a rubber gasket that allows the electronics to be sheltered from the weather. Outdoor panels are much brighter than indoor panels because they are meant to be run both day and night and are able to be seen when the sun is out. As such, outdoor panels have the possibility of consuming considerably more power than an indoor panel due to the extra brightness.
- Enclosures: Any panel that is put outside needs to have at least some part of it protected from the elements. If you are constructing an outdoor enclosure for anything, you need to take condensation and ventilation into account. As a rule, if you cannot create a vacuum in your enclosure, meaning, free of air, you need to allow the air inside to equalize with the air outside. By placing vents in your enclosures, your enclosure can off-gas, reduce moisture, and equalize temperatures with the air outside.
For a full build consultation, please take a look at the Build A Matrix calculator. This tool is setup to provide you plug-and-play build out of the box. You can use the text boxes and dropdowns on the page to customize your panel buildout to your specifications.
Originally Published 11/7/2020 6:26 PM EST
Updated 1/14/2022 9:21 AM EST
By Ken MacMaster