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LED Displays 101


To begin... What does LED stand for?

L. E. D. stands for Light-Emitting Diode. An LED is not a light bulb, but an efficient, effective, ultrabright alternative that doesn't burn out. The LEDs in Suncoast's signs typically stay bright for longer than 11 years.

For a downloadable printable list of LED Display Vocabulary click here.

What is Pixel Pitch?

Pixel pitch is the distance between each pixel on your sign. One pixel is a cluster of two, three or four LEDs. The closer the pixels, the crisper and more life-like your image will be because there are more points of light used to portray your wording or image. For example, on a 16mm pitch LED Display each pixel is spaced 16mm apart. A 10mm display has spacing between pixels at 10mm. So a Display that is 48" high by 96" wide will contain:

  • 16 mm Pixel Pitch = 72 pixels in height and 144 pixels in width = 10,368 total pixels
  • 12 mm Pixel Pitch = 96 pixels in height and 192 pixels in width = 18,432 total pixels

So, even though the overall size of the 2 displays in the example are the same, the 12 mm display has more pixels and will show more detail.

Viewing Distance and Time


Viewing distance is one of the most important factors needed to determine the correct size of most electronic signs.
As a general rule: 1 inch of text is viewable up to 50 feet away1 or 25mm of text is viewable up to 15m away. The following diagram illustrates at what distance and character size that a stationary audience will recognize and understand the content of an electronic sign.

Viewing Distance Chart


However, if the target audience is moving, then another factor, time, is required.  An average of at least three to four seconds is required for a moving audience to adequately recognize and comprehend six to eight grouping of content on an electronic sign2. The following chart lists the maximum time an audience will have to view an electronic sign with specific characters size. For example, an audience will have three seconds or less to view electronic signs with four inches of text. If the electronic signs have too much content, than the reader will not have sufficient time to comprehend the entire content.

As a summary:
• 2 inch text works well in most foot traffic areas, such as for indoor applications.
• 4 to 6 inch text is ideal for 45mph or under traffic, such as outdoor church and school applications.
• 8 inch text  or larger works is suited for most outdoor applications where traffic is 60mph or slower.

Character Size Max. Viewing Distance Max. Viewing Time (seconds)3
inch mm foot meter 25mph / 40kph 35mph / 56kph 45mph / 72kph 55mph / 89kph 65mph / 104kph
2 51 100 31 2.7 1.9 1.5 1.2 1.0
4 102 200 61 5.5 3.9 3.0 2.5 2.1
5 127 250 76 6.8 4.9 3.8 3.1 2.6
6 152 300 91 8.2 5.8 4.5 3.7 3.1
8 203 400 122 10.9 7.8 6.1 5.0 4.2
9 229 450 137 12.3 8.8 6.8 5.6 4.7
10 254 500 152 13.6 9.7 7.6 6.2 5.2
12 305 600 183 16.4 11.7 9.1 7.4 6.3
16 406 800 244 21.8 15.6 12.1 9.9 8.4
20 508 1,000 305 27.3 19.5 15.2 12.4 10.5
24 610 1,200 366 32.7 23.4 18.2 14.9 12.6
36 914 1,800 549 49.1 35.1 27.3 22.3 18.9
48 1,200 2,400 732 65.5 46.8 36.4 29.8 25.2
60 1,542 3,000 914 81.8 58.4 45.5 37.2 31.5

1. LEDs emit light allowing the content to be visible further away than the same content on standard reflective surfaces.
2. Other factors, such as content size, traffic, distractions, weather, lighting conditions, etc. will affect the time required.
3. The values listed in the chart does not take into consideration the minimum required visibility distance (MRVD).
4. The information provided should not be taken as the definitive source on electronic sign visibility and viewing distance.

Viewing Angle

Viewing Angle is the angle at which the LEDs brightness is halved. An LED is at full brightness when you look at it straight on or dead center. If that level of brightness is halved by moving 35° from dead center, the viewing angle is considered to be double that number, or 70°. Reading angle is the angle at which people can adequately read your LED message, and, while typically greater than the viewing angle, it varies depending on lighting circumstances and a sign's environment.

Color vs. Monochrome

Single Color LED signs have long set the standard for effective LED signage and are a proven way to get results. They're particularly effective if you have a text-driven message you'd like to customize from time to time.

But if you have a product you'd like to show in all its splendor, or if you'd like to play snippets of videos or animation and take advantage of other advertising tactics previously only available on TV and the Internet, you might want to consider a full color LED sign.

Either way, you can't go wrong using a Suncoast LED Display to draw attention to your message.


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