Digital billboard energy costs dropping substantially: report

July 12, 2011 by Dave Haynes

We have long heard how the costs of big LED billboards have dropped substantially over the past 10 years, and how that is driving the big uptick and switch by outdoor companies to digital from analog.

Now there’s engineering evidence that the biggest operating cost – powering all those LEDs – is also dropping substantially.

The global consulting engineering firm Louis Berger Group, as reported in MediaPost, says energy consumption has been dramatically reduced on the latest versions of the technology in the past four years.

Energy consumption by 14×48 foot digital bulletins has dropped 61% since 2007, while energy consumption by 12×24 foot digital posters declined 40% over the same period, on average, according to LBG, which focused on billboards manufactured by Daktronics and Young Electric Sign Company.

YESCO (image used here) boasted that its billboards use just one-quarter of the power they needed six years ago.

The engineering group says the drop in  average energy consumption owes to several innovations, including brightness controls that reduce brightness at night and improved cooling technology which is replacing costly air conditioning. The switch to LEDs has also resulted in big energy savings in some cases. There are approximately 2,400 digital billboards of various types across the U.S., out of a total estimated 400,000 billboards.

The report was bankrolled by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, which is steadily fighting local battles with authorities and interest groups looking to block billboards.

High energy consumption for advertising at a time when society is calling to reduce energy waste has been used as an argument against the spread of the boards.

The report comes as the Philadelphia non-profit Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight (or SCRUB) released findings that the largest digital billboards consume 323,773 kilowatt hours a year, or about 30 times the energy required by a typical household.

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