A question we hear often is, “where should I install my digital signage displays”.
The answer will depend on several factors:
- What type of business are you in?
- What’s the purpose or goal of your digital signage project?
- Are you going to deploy many displays?
- What’s the size and layout of the location?
- Are there any environmental factors to consider? (like proximity to windows)
- Any regulations or building codes that need to be respected
- Will the displays be installed inside or outside a building?
- Is there easy access to power?
- Does the location have access to the internet?
- Do you have access a wired network or WiFi?
- Are there any architectural issues or restrictions that you need to plan for?
The Site Visit
Every digital signage project should begin with a site visit. This is where you confirm each display’s location, orientation, and where you can see if there are any potential issues to be resolved. It’s the first step before ordering your hardware and beginning any construction work. This way you can determine if you will need to hire an electrical contractor or other trades prior to installing the equipment.
Site visits also provide a great opportunity to verify sight lines. This is when you confirm that each display will be visible from as many locations as possible. This step is especially important in large venues, such as shopping malls and convention centers. In some case you may find it’s necessary to relocate the display or remove obstructions. It’s better you find out early in the process, rather than after the equipment has been ordered.
Locations that face large windows or other brightly lit areas should be avoided at all cost, unless you plan to use high brightness, commercial displays. Your standard flat panel displays can’t deliver an image that is readable in direct sunlight, so it’s important to keep this in mind before you pick a final location. Remember that it will be less expensive to move a display, than upgrading to a special type of hardware to deal with bright sunshine.
Avoid any areas that are excessively humid, or extremely hot or cold unless you plan to encase your displays in weatherproof enclosures. Most interior LED displays are not designed to operate in these conditions, and in most cases the manufacturer’s warranty will be voided if you install them outside. Be careful when installing displays in restaurants, or in locations where the equipment could be directly exposed to steam, grease or excessive heat. This can significantly shorten the lifespan of your equipment. By the way, the same can be said for any media player hardware or any other connected equipment.
Venues located in areas prone to extreme weather should also consider adding some type of battery backup or UPS that will keep displays running in case of a power failure. This may not be sufficient to keep displays turned on for very long periods, but it should provide enough power to show evacuation routes and other important information so occupants can find a safe way out.
It’s important to follow all local and federal building codes, when planning any digital signage display installation. Failure to do so can have catastrophic effects, and expose you to legal action. There have been documented incidents where displays have fallen down causing injuries, and even deaths so this is a critical step that should never be ignored.
Note that certain locations can be subject to very strict rules. For example, electrical devices used in gas stations must meet specific safety requirements, and can only be installed in certain locations. Other buildings may have height restrictions for hardware hung from ceilings. Each building offers its own challenges. Needless to say, it’s important you follow all regulations and obtain the required building permits prior to any work. Also, make sure every contractor working on the project has the required credentials before they start hanging displays.
Digital signage Players must communicate with their assigned CMS server. In order to do so, each Player requires network access through a wired or wireless connection. If an existing network is already in place, make sure each Player can be patched in otherwise you may have to switch to a wireless connection. It’s important to note that wired networks are preferred. WiFi setups can be unpredictable and require a lot of fine tuning to operate properly. In some cases, WiFi may not work at all so you should do a proper site survey before installing any equipment.
Display Cabling Considerations
There are currently 3 types of display configurations available:
- Wired using direct HDMI cable or Ethernet data cables (Cat5/Cat6)
- Wireless HDMI
- System on Chip “smart” displays
In most cases, you will need to connect a physical media player (PC or Android device) to each display. This usually involves mounting the media player behind or near each display, and use a HDMI or data cables with special adapters. HDMI cables are fine for runs up to 50’ however the shorter the cable, the better. Longer distances are possible using Ethernet data cables with the appropriate adapters.
Wireless HDMI is a technology that lets PCs send a video signal wirelessly to a receiver connected into a display. There is no cable to run between the PC and the display which can be really useful in certain locations. However, the signal can be affected by local interference and this method is only effective over relatively short distances (around 30’).
System on Chip Displays
Smart displays that use System on Chip (SoC) technology don’t require any external player device. The device is built into the display itself, so the only wires are for power and networking. These are the easiest displays to install.
There are several factors that determine the type of mounting hardware you will need. Structural considerations should be at the top of your list, especially when building a video wall or when installing very large displays. Each building delivers its own challenge, so it’s always best to hire professionals who know which mounting hardware to use for each situation. The use of commercial grade brackets and supports is always recommended.
Some locations may be more vulnerable to security issues than others. The threat of theft and vandalism should always be considered when selecting display equipment and mounting locations. For example, displays to be installed in public spaces should always be evaluated for the risk of theft or vandalism. There are many types of tamper-proof mounting hardware and protective cases that can secure the equipment and ensure a long, trouble-free life.
Potential uses would be elevators, parking garages, schools, transit shelters, and other similar locations. Using System on Chip displays can also help reduce theft since the media player hardware is contained inside the display itself. This is a simple way to ensure basic security in less challenging environments. SoC Displays are ideal for fitness centers, retail stores, shopping malls, and other high-traffic interior areas. Surveillance equipment can also be an excellent deterrent. Security cameras located strategically can help protect displays while also providing the means to verify content is playing correctly.