Digital Signage Displays & Weather: What You Need to Know

When taking your digital signage outdoors, it is easy to get intimidated by the harsh environments brought by changing weather, dirt, dust, insects and bright sunlight. If not prepared for properly, each of these can degrade the quality of your displays and weaken your brand’s overall digital signage strategy.

Fortunately, modern-day outdoor kiosks incorporate a lot of engineering improvements, including internal thermal control systems, anti-glare and reflection screens that can automatically adjust depending on the sun and robustly engineered exteriors designed to withstand harsh outdoor conditions.

We broke out the three main use cases requiring specialized hardware and identified four considerations for each of them:

Direct sunlight

Installing digital signage in direct sunlight has two main challenges. First, too much brightness may render the outdoor kiosk unreadable. And second, over time, the changing weather, adverse conditions and direct sunlight can negatively impact the signage’s performance and shorten the hardware’s lifespan. That’s why it’s imperative to get the right hardware. Consider these main aspects:

  1. Luminosity Requirement: Look for outdoor signage with 2500 to 5000 cd/m2 with a built-in ambient light sensor. This is the suggested measure of light emitted per square meter that would allow the digital signage to display bright images in direct sunlight.
  2. Technology: Look for signage features that help outdoor kiosks withstand extreme light, such as the use of trans-reflective film technology that lowers reflections and improves image quality. Make sure it encloses expensive hardware such as the media player, speakers, microphone and camera.
  3. Weatherproofing: Outdoor signage that can withstand heat up to 50 degrees Celsius with a forced air cooling and heating system is also key. It must be covered with an abrasion resistant glass that is at least 6mm, bonded securely by materials such as polyurethane. This keeps dust, rain and snow from reaching the signage.
  4. Configuration: When it comes to weatherproofing digital signage, look for signage that allows LCD installation in portrait views without having to worry about reflection and glare from direct sunlight.

Semi-outdoor

Digital signage installed under canopies or in areas facing north or south function much like a stripped-down version of the outdoor kiosk mentioned above. Because of this, semi-outdoor digital signage lack some features, like a built-in media player and high heat tolerance. However, this hardware compensates with other capabilities that outdoor signage lacks, like a portrait or landscape options. In weatherproofing digital signage for semi-outdoor areas, consider these points:

  1. Luminosity Requirement: 700 cd/m2 brightness is sufficient. Just make sure the screen has an automatic ambient light sensor to adjust LCD brightness as needed.
  2. Technology: Remember, semi-outdoor kiosks don’t have a built-in player, so standard connectors must be in place to allow integration. Look for HDMI Input of: HDMI (x3), 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p. There must be at least one TV Input of Coax, 75 ohm and VGA input of 15 pin-D-SUB. Audio can also be augmented, so make sure the player has both VGA and CVBS stereo input of 3.55mm and RCA, respectively.
  3. Weatherproofing: Semi-outdoor signage should be able to handle heat of up to 40 degrees Celsius and must have waterproof technology that protects the hardware from extreme weather changes. 
  4. Configuration: Since semi-outdoor digital signage can handle both landscape and portrait views, it must have at least a 178-degree vertical and horizontal viewing angle.

Retail Window Facing

Intended to replace traditional posters, window facing digital signage is another type of outdoor kiosk utilized to attract potential shoppers. Because it is typically placed in display windows, this hardware is prone to sunlight and frequent weather changes, although on a much smaller scale. Keep the below in mind when considering retail digital signage:

  1. Luminosity Requirement: LCD brightness must be between 2000 cd/m2 to 5000 cd/m2 in order to overcome reflection and extreme brightness, especially during summer. Note that this is the same requirement as outdoor signage because window facing kiosks are exposed to almost the same amount of sunlight as outdoor kiosks.
  2. Technology: Just like semi-outdoor signage, retail window facing kiosks don’t have built-in players. At a minimum, look for video input resolutions ranging from 640x480 (VGA) up to 1920x1080 (1080p).
  3. Weatherproofing: Look for technology that will prevent “blackening defect” brought on by extreme temperatures. This means that the signage should have high heat tolerance like outdoor signage, which is typically 50 degrees Celsius.
  4. Configuration: Ceiling-mounts or free-standing floor pedestals that enable the kiosk to face the window are non-negotiable. The pedestals’ height and position should also be easy to adjust, so keep an eye out for 19.8 mm bezel-to-bezel width that works well for video wall applications in bright environments.

Full-service digital signage providers, such as Four Winds Interactive, will recommend hardware to fit your overall signage strategy, but if you’ve got any questions, contact us, and our hardware experts will be able to help you.

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