Achieve Success with an LED Retrofit Project

The success of a retrofit project hinges on a few outcomes.

The success of a retrofit project hinges on a few outcomes.

1. Does the lighting look even, with zero shadows or hot spots?
2. Does the sign look nice and bright when lit?
3. Was the installation fast and smooth?

taco bell signage
One benefit of LEDs is that they perform better than fluorescent bulbs in extreme weather conditions. (Image courtesy AgiLight)

Not having extensive knowledge about lighting sources or sign construction, customers will look to shops for advice and expertise. This is when sign makers can explain why a retrofit is a viable solution.

Manufacturers are constantly improving products and making them easier for shops to include in their projects. Retrofit jobs are no exception.

“With so many LED offerings on the market, it’s hard for a sign company to know all of the factors to accurately populate each sign they retrofit,” says Michael Kerber,  Grimco. “Therefore, many sign companies rely on their LED provider to provide LED population drawings or LED layouts.”

Grimco supports a resource at that offers a do-it-yourself layout tool, populating LED drawings in an instant.

“Knowing the factors above will help you know how and where to make the right adjustments to the populations you receive from your LED provider,” Kerber continues. “The great thing about the LED layouts that HanleyLED provides is that it also provides other crucial data that helps customers estimate their costs for materials other than just the LEDs (such as the amount of acrylic, trim, and more).”

Principal LED also offers an online estimator that will “recommend the ideal product given the depth and dimensions of the sign,” says Vincent. “We also have a U.S.-based estimating team that is available to assist. One advantage to manufacturing in the USA is that we can offer a very wide range of LED modules on a Stik, without having to wait for weeks or even months.”

The actual installation of the sign is critical to the project’s success. Specific to the lighting, the replacement process should be fairly straightforward.

“Be sure to disconnect all old electrical ballasts because they will not be used and likely be replaced with LED drivers,” says Dan Miller, Principal LED. Though he warns, “Removing old ballasts can be difficult depending on the age and how well-kept the signs are.”

Today, LED products are being made to specifically fit in a retrofit job.

croatan crossing sign
LEDs are reliable and efficient sources of light for retrofit projects. (Image courtesy of James Markham, Ralph’s Sign Shop, Inc)

“LED bars that mount into the existing fluorescent lamp sockets are becoming more and more popular,” says Kerber; however, other methods include “using brackets to mount your LED bars to the raceway or other pre-existing structure inside the sign. And lastly, mounting LEDs to a UL-recognized ACM baffle, then mounting that baffle with brackets to the structure inside your sign.”

Once complete, a signmaker can tout the finished retrofit sign as a dependable and valuable asset. And with LED lighting replacing fluorescent tubes, the only “buzz” associated with the sign will come from those who see it.

Fugler R 4

Ryan Fugler

Ryan N. Fugler is a former editor of WRAPS magazine and has been covering the signage industry since 2006.

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