Explanation of how binning effects LED billboard lights

What is LED binning and how does it affect the performance of your LED Billboard Lights?

Last week, we received a email from a billboard customer asking about LED binning. I was thrown off a little as this is a relatively complex issue and was surprised the subject even came up. Happy to answer, but surprised.

So what is LED binning, how are the LEDs binned, and how does it affect LED Billboard fixtures.

Let’s start with how LEDs are manufactured. Believe it or not, LEDs are grown in a lab type environment. These are sometimes referred to as a “Clean Room”  When produced, a single round wafer is coated with various materials to create a semiconductor. The semiconductor is essentially the heart of the LED. These initial LEDs are blue in nature. The technician slices the LED into very small rectangles and attaches the wire bonds or electrical connectors to the LED. After the connection is placed, the technician adds phosphor. Once encapsulated, a white LED package is produced.

The coating process of phosphors can create inherent variations in the LED. These variations create significant differences that impact the Kelvin (color temperature), lumen performance, and even the voltage of the LED. While the industry has improved on this process, the variations are still pretty significant.

Once produced, the LED manufacturer must sort through the finish product. This is called “binning.” Basically it is sorting the finished goods by color, performance, and voltage. The very highest grade LEDs typically go to research labs and electronic manufacturers. High quality lighting manufacturers typically choose the next level. While cheaper offshore lighting manufactures select lower grade bins.  Bottom barrel bins typically go to products like tools and toys.

When billboard LED fixture manufacturers select their LED bins, the price is determined by quality and how tight the bin is. The tighter the bin, the closer the LEDs are in quality. You might see +/- on a fixture cut sheet.  For example, +/- 250 means the color temperature can vary by 250 degrees. +/- 1000 means it can vary by over 1000 degrees. This process allows billboard light manufactures to select only the LEDs that meet their acceptable performance requirements.

So how are billboard light fixtures affected by binning? Quite simply it comes down to color consistency and performance. When driving down the same stretch of road, we all want our ads to look similar in nature- particular with a white background. We also want our billboards to be as bright as possible while consuming the least energy.  Lumens per watt is a direct correlation to the performance of the LED. Higher binned LEDs are capable of better performance. This is one of the reasons, the Sign Vue family of LED significantly outperforms the competition.

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