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The Impact of Digital Equipment on Your Energy Costs

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and anticipation of the latest digital media solutions and what they can do for your in-store experience. While there’s often very little aesthetic difference between displays, they’re not all created equal when it comes to energy efficiency. 

With the cost of power remaining at historic levels in the UK, the volume that digital equipment can consume is still too often overlooked during the procurement process – an oversight that can have significant implications on operating costs and environmental sustainability for businesses. That’s why we calculate the total cost of ownership over the expected lifetime of every piece of equipment we recommend to our clients. 

Lighting: the power vampire

One of the biggest contributors to energy use is lighting. Aside from e-paper based options, digital signage displays are essentially a collection of hundreds, thousands, or millions of tiny lights. In LCD displays, those lights are installed behind the glass (a backlight). They are constantly lit - the LCD’s job is to let light out when it decides a pixel needs to be on. By its nature, this is not hugely efficient, as the backlight is drawing power even when you’re showing black. In contrast, with direct view LED displays, each pixel is a light and individually controlled. So when you’re showing black, virtually no power is consumed. 

Although LED is generally the more efficient option, LCD is a mature technology and some manufacturers have gone to great lengths to increase the efficiency of their offerings.

Let’s look at an example:

Consider two 55” high-brightness displays designed for use in store windows. One from Dynascan, a manufacturer who specialises in the technology and another from a competing, non-specialist manufacturer with a slightly lower cost. While the specifications of both may appear similar at first glance, a closer look at the power usage reveals a pretty significant contrast.

The Dynascan display has a maximum power usage rating of 260W and a typical usage of 160W. In comparison, the competitor's lower-priced 55” high-brightness unit, surprisingly draws more power despite being less bright – 420W at maximum and 295W on average. 

Now think of the long term costs. To put this into perspective, let's assume a scenario where 100 of these screens operate for 16 hours per day throughout the year. Simple calculations make it clear which option would save you a pretty penny. The power-efficient Dynascan display will cost approximately 80 pence per day, while the alternative will run closer to £1.50. That’s £300 vs £550 per year for just one display, which means a relatively small 100 display network will cost £25,000 per year more to operate on the display that cost less at point of purchase. A typical LCD display will last at least 5 years, so you’re looking at £75,000 difference over the life of the installation.

That saving you made on the initial procurement doesn’t look too good now, does it? Even with energy prices likely to gradually fall over the next year, the savings still add up.

Environmental Considerations

While businesses might be aware of the impact of digital signage on their energy bills, they rarely consider the environmental cost, despite consumers becoming more interested to know which companies are doing their bit - and voting with their wallets

The increased power consumption required to power digital signage and equipment is a major contributor to the carbon footprint of businesses (92 tonnes extra over five years using the example above, in case you were wondering). Our carbon offsetting initiative can help with that, though, where we offer our clients the option of purchasing carbon credits, in the form of managed forests (you can read more on that in our previous blog).

What can Pixel do?

We can help calculate the total operating cost of each and every piece of digital media equipment we install, so that we can deliver the best results to fit with our clients’ budget - that includes up front payment and long term running costs. 

Our 24/7 support and managed services are designed to ensure that every aspect of your digital media networks are reliable and effective. A simple way to reduce the impact of digital equipment on power bills is through power management systems that can automatically switch off equipment when they are not needed. If your business only operates during the day, this could be an option for you.

If you’re considering adding new digital equipment to your existing network, or are looking to upgrade entirely in a cost-effective, power-saving way, why not give us a call? Our expert team can ensure you enjoy the benefits of digital equipment and signage while also contributing towards the bottom line and a sustainable and environmentally friendly future.

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