LED Walls offer many advantages over projection. While they do have a higher up-front cost, they are cheaper to maintain…
The heart of the LED wall is… wait for it… the LED. It may be too early in the article for spoilers, but there you go.
We are all familiar with LEDs, they are everywhere. We may not all know that LED stands for Light Emitting Diode (we do now), but we’ve all experienced their effects. Whether an indication that a TV is on, the screens on our phones, or the lights in our home, LED are everywhere.
An LED is a very simple electrical component that emits light when power passes through it. The types of material that make up the LED determine the color the LED will illuminate. For quite some time, LED materials, at least those that were cheap enough to go in small electronics were limited to green and red. In recent(ish) years, blue LED have become possible which made LED based screens a reality. By mixing red, green and blue LEDs in various amounts, it is possible to achieve over 16 million colors (in a 24-bit display).
The last piece of the puzzle is size and price. Technology now allows us to put all three colors onto a super small chip. By putting thousands of these together we can make LED screens with no discernable space between them.
In fact, the amount of space between these LEDs is an important part of understanding and comparing LED walls. That space is called the Pixel Pitch.
WHAT IS PIXEL PITCH
Pixel pitch is the distance between the individual pixels or LEDs. It is usually measured in millimeters from the center of one LED to the center of the next. Pixel pitch is important because it determines the viewing distance for the LED wall. It will also impact the price. For example:
A square LED wall panel measuring 500mm x 500mm with a PIXEL PITCH of 3.9 millimeters might have just over 16,000 LEDs.
That same square LED wall panel with a pixel pitch of 2.9 millimeters will have over 28,000 LEDs.
Generally speaking, the 2.9mm pixel pitch LED panel will cost more than the 3.9mm panel because there are about 58% more LEDS on the 2.9mm LED panel.
Why would you go with a smaller pixel pitch then? Viewing distance.
The viewing distance is how far an average person needs to be to see an image on an LED wall without seeing the spaces between the LEDs. This is a minimum distance, not an optimum. As long as someone is further away than the recommended viewing distance, the LED wall will look great.
Since the pixel pitch has a direct impact on price, it is important to factor in how far your audience will be from the screen.
If you are planning an outdoor billboard that will be 100ft from the closest viewer, you can use a much larger (and cheaper) pixel pitch.
If you are designing a stage, consulting the manufacturers closest viewer recommendations would be the first step in figuring out what pixel pitch you need. The manufacturers recommendation takes into account the size of the pixel as well as the pixel pitch.
The size of the actual pixel is not always publicized by the manufacturer. Two LED wall panels with the same pixel pitch (distance between the centers of two pixels) and the same pixel density (the number of pixels per panel) can have different recommended viewing distances due to the size of each pixel.
For example, THOR AV’s Slate series of LED wall panels has a bit larger LED than our EDGE series. The space between the LEDs is smaller on the SLATE series, resulting in a closer minimum recommended viewing distance.
This means that you should pay attention to BOTH the recommended viewing distance AND the pixel pitch when determining what LED wall panels will be right for your installation.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT PIXEL PITCH FOR ME
Start with measuring the distance between the proposed mounting point and the closest viewer. That will narrow down your options. If you are mounting the LED wall on the back of a large stage and your closest viewer is 18 feet away, you have loads of options in LED wall panels. If you are mounting the LED Wall in a corporate lobby, where most viewers will be 8 feet from the display, that narrows down your options.
Once you know where the closest viewer is, then you can decide which pixel pitch is best for your install. You can go smaller than the recommended pixel pitch for your distance, but the trade of is cost. Smaller pitches cost more because there are (in most cases) thousands more LEDs.
Your next considerations will be ambient brightness, the kind of processor, and mounting type. Information on those topics is linked below. Please let us know if you have any questions. We are always happy to help!