LED Sign Basics: Pitch, Pixels and Matrix Size

The quality and readability of an LED sign are primarily determined by three things; pitch, pixels, and matrix size. Understanding these three elements, and how they work together, are vital to making sure you get a quality LED sign that will meet your needs.

An LED sign pixel is a grouping of several individual LEDs. Single color LED signs have pixels that only consist of amber or red colored LEDs, while a full color LED sign has pixels that combine all three primary colors; red, green, and blue. Each pixel can contain many LEDs or just one, depending on the clarity and color required for the sign. More LEDs per pixel means better clarity and smoother animation.

The pitch of an LED sign is the distance between the centers of each pixel. The pitch is also sometimes referred to as the resolution and is the primary way to determine how crisp and clear the sign will be. The pitch is usually measured in millimeters and a pitch of 10mm means that the distance between the centers of each pixel is 10 millimeters. The smaller the pitch, the clearer the sign will be because there will be more pixels and they will be closer together. In general, LED signs that only display text have higher pitches because they don’t need to be very crisp. Letters displayed on LED signs can be read well from far distances without having a very low pitch. However, LED signs designed to display video or pictures will need a lower pitch to insure that the images are clear. It is wise to get an LED sign with a pitch that matches your needs because you want your sign to be clear, but you don’t want to pay for more LEDs than you need.

The final term to be familiar with when purchasing an LED sign is matrix. The matrix of an LED sign is what represents how many pixels are in the sign. For example, a sign with a matrix of 50 by 100 will be 50 pixels high and 100 pixels wide. For a text sign, a higher matrix height allows you to fit more rows of text whereas a wider matrix allows for longer lines of text.

Combining the pitch and matrix of an LED sign allows you to get an idea of how large the sign will be. For example, an LED sign with a matrix of 50 by 100 and a pitch of 20mm will be smaller than a sign with the same matrix and a pitch of 30mm. Similarly, a sign with a pitch of 35mm and a matrix of 50 by 100 will be smaller than a sign with the same pitch and a matrix of 100 by 200.

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