“It’s a no brainer, buy it once and it will do all the instant
advertising for you, cut back on newspaper, TV, radio etc…”
-Charlie Aiello, Aiello’s Restaurant - Whitney Point, NY

info@dragonflysigns.com | 570.676.3454      
LED Buyer’s Guide

What you should know before you purchase an LED sign.

Yes, we know this section is quite lengthy, but we want you to make the most well-informed decision possible!

To begin, there are some major differences between LED signs and you should be aware of these factors before deciding which is right for you.

If you don't know what to watch out for, you may not be happy with your LED sign, and that is the last thing we at Dragon Fly Signs want for our customers!

The purpose of this page is to give you the tools to make an educated decision regarding purchasing an LED sign, whether it be an Elite series full color, or Elite series greyscale.

Let’s start with the basics of LED signs.

What is an LED?

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. Basically an LED is a small light bulb. However, it is different from incandescent light bulbs in a few key areas:

  • They do not have a filament
  • They are more efficient (about one quarter of the energy consumption of an incandescent bulb)
  • They have a longer life span (100,000 hours!)

For those that don’t know, the filament in an incandescent light bulb is where the light is produced. The filament is heated with electricity and the result is light and heat. Why is that important? Because the object of a light bulb is to produce light which means the energy/electricity used to produce heat is wasted! Have you ever touched a light bulb that had been on for a while? It took electricity to make the light bulb hot. When your light bulb uses a filament, there is no way around the wasted heat/electricity.

LEDs do not use filaments. That is why they are more efficient, almost all the electricity is used for making light, not heat. In other words, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to run an LED sign because the LEDs are so efficient.

LED Sign Basics

Now that you know what an LED is, there are 3 industry terms for LED signs you need to understand.

  • Pixel
  • Pitch
  • Matrix

The individual LEDs are grouped together in what is known as a ‘pixel’. The number of LEDs in each pixel varies by sign type. In our Elite series full color signs, there are three LEDs per pixel. In our Elite series single color and Stealth series tri color signs, there are two LEDs per pixel.

A major factor which determines the right sign for you is the ‘pitch’ of the pixels in the LED sign. The pitch is the distance from the center of one pixel to the center of the next pixel.

If there are 2 LED signs sitting side by side and each one is the same height and width but they have different pitches, the LED sign with the smaller, tighter pitch, will have more pixels and thus a higher resolution.

Our signs are available in four different pitches; 12mm, 16mm, 20mm, and 25mm


Now, this does not necessarily mean that 12mm pitch is “better” than 25mm pitch. This simply determines which sign is right for you when considering the distance at which viewers will be seeing your sign.

At very close distances, a 12mm pitch or 16mm pitch is ideal, as the viewer will be able to see more detail in the sign, just as well with closer viewing distances, a smaller sign will suffice, saving you on costs. However at very far distances, the images or text detail on the sign may become blurry or hard to view/read, and a large sign will be needed.

This is where 20mm and 25mm signs are ideal. At far viewing distances, signs with pixels that are more spread out become easier to see, as well as cost effectively allowing for larger sizes of signs

Selecting the right pitch when you are purchasing an LED sign will save you money as well as getting you the appropriate resolution for your particular application.

The third term is ‘matrix’. The matrix is made up of the number of pixel high and the number of pixels wide of an LED sign is. The matrix is what determines the physical size of the sign. If an LED sign is 32 pixels tall and 96 pixels wide, the matrix is 32×96.

With our Elite series Greyscale signs the matrix determines how many lines of text you can put on the sign as well as how many characters will fit on each line. With our Elite series full color signs the matrix determines how much total space you have. A quick word of caution, having the correct height to width ratio is CRITICAL; you should always consult one of our sign professional for help determining the best matrix for such a sign.


Full color, or single color?

The first question you need to ask yourself is: “Do I need a full color, or a single color LED sign?”. Most salesmen will tell you that a full color LED sign is always more effective. Full color signs can be more effective for some applications, but not all applications. However, although more costly, our Elite series full color signs offer stunning graphics, and industry leading parts and construction.

So how do you know if the additional cost is justified? Ask yourself this question: “Can my product or service be sold with a picture?”.

  • If you sell insurance there are probably not many pictures that will help you sell your product, but words will.
  • If you sell cars you can most definitely sell your product with pictures.

If you answered “No” then Elite Series greyscale signs are probably the way to go. Single color signs are just as, if not more, effective than a full color LED sign if pictures and video are not helpful. You will also save a lot of money when purchasing the sign.

If you answered “Yes” you should consider a full color LED sign. They do cost more but if images can help you sell, the additional cost will be justified. Talk to one of our sign professionals for help determining which sign is the perfect match for you.

How big should my LED sign be?

Properly answering this requires a careful review of the location for the sign as well as the specific application.

There are several factors that must be considered. For instance:

  • Speed Limit of Traffic
  • Lanes of Traffic
  • Stop signs or Stop lights
  • Viewing Distance
  • Sign Height/Elevation
  • Content

Of all the items listed above, content is the most involved. If you are getting a single color LED sign, you need to know what you want to say AND the most effective way to say it. Then you must consider the traffic patterns. The speed limit and viewing distance will affect the viewing time. Your towns sign ordinance can also have an impact here.

Now you need to determine the correct pitch, which we spoke about earlier.

To reiterate, if your LED sign will be viewed from a long distance by people in cars travelling 45mph you will need a larger character size to make sure the traffic can read it. That means you will need a larger pitch.

If your sign will be close to the traffic and the speed limit is 25mph you can use a small character size, and smaller pitch, and your message will still be readable.

If all of this seems complicated and a bit overwhelming, don’t worry, that is what we are here for!

We would love to speak to you about your interest in LED signs and help walk you through which option is best for you!