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LED Display

LED signs are available in monochrome text, "grayscale" (which is 256 shades of the same color), or full-color, which includes full motion video and graphics. The advantage that LED signs hold over traditional signs are myriad, but include durability, lower power usage and end-user editability.

The LED lights on today's signs can last up to 100,00 hours, which is more that 11 years of continuous, 24 hour a day use. Plus each individual LED uses only half a watt of electricity versus the 30 watt incandescent bulbs that were used in earlier lighted sign displays. For operators, this means a significantly lower electrical expense.

Two operators who have recently installed LED signs said they have had great luck with them.

"We installed them in five of our locations, and it's been extremely positive," said Brian King of Precision Tune Auto Care. "We've increased car counts, and as a result, we were able to increase our base oil change price by several dollars per service, just simply because we've had the increased car count and increased customer base."

This technology is not just for big cities, either.

"I have a lube and car wash together, and I needed something to boost my lubes because they were going down," said Tom Hall, owner of Valley Wash & Lube in Minerva, Ohio. "I'm in a small town of about 4,500 people, and to stay in business I have to get a large percent of all the oil changes in town. We had seen a steady decrease in business since 2002. (Since I installed the LED sign), this is the first year that I've gained business."

Hall installed a sign about 18 months ago.

Shortly after installing the sign, the highway in front of his business was closed for four months due to road construction. After installing the LED sign, even with the road construction, Hall had a 7 percent increase in his business.

"I had a steady decline in business for four years, and then all of a sudden I'm starting back up the other way," he said. "I haven't changed anything other than put that sign out there, so I attribute (the growth) 100 percent to that sign."

Buying a Sign: What to Look For

LED signs are a major investment, so if an operator is looking to invest in one, there are a few things to be aware of.

Eric Stevens, of iCatch Displays, warn(s) that if an operator chooses an LED sign based solely on price, he or she may be very disappointed with the performance of the sign.

To get the best bang for your buck, King recommended looking at some of the manufacturer's working signs before making a purchase.

"There are many ways to manufacture an LED display," Stevens said. "Make sure that the sales representative makes a thorough explanation of how the display is built, and make your selection on quality over price. A well built LED display will last anywhere from five to 10 years, but a cheaply fabricated unit will make it one to three years."

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