Choosing a Programmable LED Sign

programmable-led-signGetting ready to buy a programmable LED sign?  Here’s a few tips on how to choose the right one.  The first step is to choose the type of programmable sign you need:

Select the Type of Programmable LED Sign

Programmable signs come in three basic types:  Indoor , Semi-Outdoor, and Outdoor:

  • Indoor: Indoor LED signs use what is called a “matrix” display, which is less bright than the “lamp” type display used in semi-outdoor and outdoor signs.   This matrix display is extremely readable indoors…in fact, a lamp display is usually too bright when used indoors.   Indoor signs are typically much cheaper than an outdoor sign of the same size as well.  Also, indoor signs are not waterproof.
  • Semi-Outdoor: A semi-outdoor LED sign has enough brightness to be seen outside ( even in direct sunlight ), but is not waterproof.   These use the “lamp” type display. These signs are made to be placed indoors, but viewed outdoors by placing it in an outdoor facing window.
  • Outdoor: An outdoor sign is fully designed to work outdoors, which means it has a “lamp” type display, as well as outdoor components, like a waterproof enclosure and outdoor rated power supplies.


Single color programmable signs are the lowest cost signs, and within these single color signs, red is the cheapest, followed by yellow.  More exotic colors, like white, blue, and green, are more expensive.

Three color programmable signs are 10-30% more expensive than a single color sign.  These signs use two LED’s per pixel, each one a different color.   Lighting both colors at the same time produces the third color.  For example, a sign with one red LED and one green LED can produce a yellow color by lighting both LED’s in that pixel.  another popular combination is red and blue, which produces a pink/purple color when both are lit.

Full Color Programmable signs use at least three colors per pixel, and are the most expensive type of programmable LED sign.


Pitch is the distance between pixels in an LED sign, typically measured in millimeters.   The smaller the pitch, the closer each pixel is to the other, and hence, the higher the number of total LEDs on the sign.   In other words, a 15mm pitch sign has twice as many LEDs as a 30mm pitch sign of the same overall size.

Keep in mind that each pixel can have 1, 2, 3, or more LED’s in it.  The pitch is the distance between pixels…not the distance between LEDs in the same pixel.

Of course, this drives cost.  The closer the pitch, the more LEDs in the sign, and thus, the higher the cost.


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One Response to Choosing a Programmable LED Sign

  1. Anna says:

    Great article! Thanks for sharing tips on how to choose LED Signs. This article helped me a lot.

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