Placing digital signage outdoors allows you to take advantage of high-traffic areas, guaranteeing that more people see your screen and get your message. But this benefit also comes with a bigger risk, considering that outdoor installations are often exposed to weather conditions, one of which is extreme heat.
Thermal management should be part of your maintenance routine for outdoor digital signage to extend its lifespan and ensure it keeps working optimally.
Importance of Keeping Outdoor Digital Signage Cool
Outdoor digital signage can be likened to street furniture. It stays in its place regardless of the weather, be it a sunny day, a rainy afternoon, or a freezing cold evening. While outdoor screens are made to withstand the elements, maintenance is still important to prevent damage.
Heat exposure is one of the most dangerous conditions for outdoor displays. Just like when a car is left parked for hours under the sun, your outdoor digital signage sitting on a sidewalk will end up with an internal temperature that’s higher than the external temperature in hot weather.
Without an appropriate cooling solution, the extreme internal heat will cause damage to the screen and its electronic equipment. There’s a risk of the electronic hardware overheating, which causes problems in the vital circuits of the screen. As a result, your display might become temperamental or in the worst case, completely stop working.
If you’re lucky and heat exposure doesn’t damage your screen, there’s still the disadvantage of shortening your display’s lifespan. According to studies, every 10°C increase above the recommended operating temperature for electronics, its longevity is reduced by half.
Strategies to Keep Outdoor Digital Signage Cool
When it comes to outdoor placements of digital signage, you need to take a proactive approach to keep the device cool and minimize the risk of damage. Here are some ways you can protect your outdoor digital signage equipment.
Plan the Placement of Your Equipment
More considerations come into installing digital signage outdoors compared to indoor placements. Not only should you think about attaining maximum visibility but you also have to consider sun and heat exposure.
You should avoid placing your screens in an area that gets direct sunlight. Instead, look for shaded areas — these will reduce margins of heat and keep your equipment cooler. Even just a couple of degrees lower can make a big difference in the longevity of your digital sign.
Ideally, planning where you’ll be placing your outdoor digital signage should come before choosing your digital signage screen. This will allow you to choose the right screen that suits your desired placement.
Use Forced Convection Cooling and Fans
If placing your outdoor digital signage in a shaded area isn’t possible or favorable for your needs and goals, then you need to start looking at other solutions to keep your display cool. One strategy is to use a forced convection cooling system combined with a fan.
Installing this in your device will help increase airflow and enhance the rate of cooling by blowing heat out of the unit. Thereby maintaining a cooler internal temperature and ensuring the proper functioning of electrical components.
A convection cooling system is the most affordable option for your outdoor digital signage. But it’s not the most effective, especially in hotter environments.
Use a Heat Exchanger
To take your cooling strategy up a notch, you can use a heat exchanger. This system transfers heat from inside the unit to the outside atmosphere when it detects that the heat produced by the electronic system is above the temperature of the ambient air. A heat exchanger also isn’t fazed by humidity levels, which can be a big advantage in humid climates.
However, this solution may not be suitable for all outdoor digital signage screens. That’s mainly because of its construction. Heat exchangers are large and bulky and may not be a possible installation for certain screen enclosures. And because they are sealed, they can’t be used with other cooling systems.
Another risk is that when ambient temperatures rise too high, a heat exchanger won’t be able to sustain the process of heat transfer. This can be a problem during heat waves.
Use an Air Conditioner
While more expensive than the solutions we’ve mentioned so far, installing an air conditioning unit inside your outdoor digital signage device is the most effective way to keep it cool. They help maintain the temperature inside the unit below ambient temperature, keeping the system from overheating.
Air conditioners are suitable for units that see extremely warm climates and can sustain ideal temperatures even during heat waves. They are also able to remove humidity as part of their operating cycle, which may be favorable for certain climates.
Consider LCD Outdoor Digital Signage Enclosures
You can also invest in an LCD outdoor digital signage enclosure. These are usually custom-made to fit your screen and have built-in cooling systems capable of keeping the unit’s internal temperature at an ideal level.
Although this is an added expense, it’s a necessary one, especially for outdoor digital signage installations. They effectively protect your device from heat, maintaining its functionality and reducing the risk of damage.
Which Strategy is Best?
There are quite a few ways you can protect your outdoor digital signage from heat and keep its internal temperatures cool. Which one is best will ultimately depend on a couple of factors, including the type of digital signage screen you have, where you install your equipment, and the weather and climate conditions it will be exposed to.
Generally, an air conditioning system is the most effective in maintaining optimal internal temperatures in your unit. But if your screen sees more moderate environments, you might be able to get away with a forced convection cooling system or heat exchanger.
Ultimately, you should consider your needs, priorities, and budget to make the best decision.
Protect Your Outdoor Digital Signage
Whichever strategy you choose, make maintenance a top priority for your outdoor digital signage. By taking a proactive approach to keeping your devices cool, you can maximize your investment and ensure your digital signage campaign remains uninterrupted.