Whether you are building a DIY sign box from scratch or want to repair an existing one, you will need various light box sign supplies. These may include LEDs, power supplies, frames, panels, and switches, to name a few. They are available from different manufacturers and at varying price points. If you are new to signage, then a basic knowledge of these can help you choose the right sign for your establishments. Here are different types of light box sign supplies that may be used in building retail signage.
A frame is the most essential item among light box sign supplies. Whether you are building a DIY retail box or ordering one from a manufacturer, you will start with a frame. It imparts structural strength and houses the LEDs and electrical items, protecting them from elements of nature. Most light box signs have an aluminum frame because it is rust-proof, lightweight, and sturdy. Materials like steel, plywood, and plastic may also be used for fabricating the frame, depending on the type and purpose of the light box. Buyers will have to decide the length, height, and depth of the frame. Their sizes start from as small 2’x4’ and go all the way up to 10’x12’. The depth may vary from one inch to one foot or more as per the type and design of the light box sign. Some manufacturers provide pre-fabricated frames, while others allow custom sizes as well. Choose a frame among light box sign supplies according to the installation space available and your requirements.
LEDs and Fluorescent Tubes
The next item that you will need among light box sign supplies is a source of illumination. Retail signs use a source of light below the face panel. It illuminates the sign, improving its visibility at night. Nowadays, most signs make use of LEDs as they consume less electricity and run cooler. They have a lifespan ranging from 30,000 to 100,000 hours. However, using LEDs in light box signs creates light hotspots in the graphics or design. The illumination looks non-uniform and warrants the use of a light diffuser to counter the same.
There are special types of LEDs available for installation in retail signage. They may be spaced farther from each other as compared to standard LED light strips. An optic lens may be provided on each LED to disperse the light at a wider angle (such as 170°) and minimize the chances of hotspots. For e.g., a sign may have multiple groups of three lights wherein the three individual LEDs of a group are separated by an inch, but the distance between each group of LEDs is three to four inches. If you are searching for outdoor light box sign supplies, consider LEDs with an IP68 waterproof rating. They are more water-resistant and suitable for outdoor application.
Fluorescent tubes were the primary source of illumination before LEDs. They are larger in size and therefore require signs with more depth (thickness). The amount of electricity consumed by them is more as compared to LEDs. Their lifespan is also significantly less, which increases the ownership cost of the sign. A primary advantage of fluorescent tubes is that they create uniform illumination. There are no hotspots, and the graphics look aesthetically pleasing. There is no need to install a diffuser separately.
LEDs with diffusers are the preferred illumination source among light box sign supplies for most scenarios. If the sign is correctly designed, LEDs can illuminate a sign as well as fluorescent tubes without any hotspots or shadows.
A power supply will also be required for running the lights inside the cabinet sign. LEDs run on DC power and require a converter to change AC current to DC current. The power supply for LEDs is also known as a driver. They come in different wattage ratings, which also determines the number of LEDs that they can run. In general, a 120W power supply will run twice the number of LEDs as compared to a 60W model. The power supply used with fluorescent tubes is known as a ballast or choke. A ballast must be matched to the wattage rating of the fluorescent tubes. Generally, you will need one blast for each fluorescent tube.
You may require multiple power supplies depending on the size of your light box sign and the wattage and number of LEDs you will be using in it. If you are going to use the light box sign outdoors, consider a power supply with an IP67 waterproof rating.
Sensors are an uncommon yet important item among light box sign supplies. A photocell is a primary sensor used in signage. Even though most retail signs make use of highly energy-efficient LEDs, they still consume electricity. The energy consumption can pile up when considering the large number of signs used in venues such as malls, theaters, and museums. If a light box sign is installed in an area with sufficient natural light, there is no reason to switch on its LED or fluorescent lights during the day. However, it may be time-consuming to switch each sign on or off individually. Also, it is easy to forget the same.
A photocell is a light box sign supply that can come in handy here. It can automatically turn signage LEDs on or off, depending on the amount of sunlight. The sign’s lights will switch on when the sun goes down and will switch off in the morning. It eliminates the need to switch the lights on or off manually, subsequently reducing electricity bills.
If you want the ability to switch each sign on and off individually, then you may want to add switches to your list of light box sign supplies. It makes it easy to turn specific signs on or off without having to disconnect all of them. You will have to make sure that the switch is suitable for the total wattage rating or power draw of the sign. Otherwise, it will heat up and melt, increasing the chances of a short circuit or fire hazard.
Most manufacturers pre-install wiring in the sign frame. However, if your frame does not come with wiring, then you may have to purchase wiring along with other light box sign supplies. Consider a wire that is rated for the specific application. You may want a model that comes with fireproof insulation.
Panels are the final thing that you will require among light box sign supplies. The logo, graphics design, or brand name is printed or embossed on these panels. They are translucent and allow the light from the LEDs underneath them to illuminate the design. Panels are made from different materials, with acrylic, Plexi, polycarbonate, and glass being the most popular ones. The right panel for you will depend on what you are going to print on them and what are your aesthetic preferences. Buyers will have to pay for them on a per square foot basis. You may have to pay extra for printing the graphics or design on the panel.
These were all the light box sign supplies required for creating your DIY sign. You can buy these supplies individually or as a kit. Most vendors sell all types of light box sign supplies for convenience. Some of them may also offer graphics printing services.