LED Modules Aren’t Always the Best For Internally Lit Signs – Solar Powered Ones!

Many of those in the sign industry have become accustomed to using LED modules for internally illuminating sign cabinets, channel lettering, panel signs, and various others. LED modules are easy to install, with LED module manufacturers providing recommended spacing parameters. They’re a brighter and more efficient alternative to their outdated predecessors of incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs. BUT, they’re not always a great fit when paired with a solar powered system.

Sign manufacturers are used to following the LED module manufacturer’s guidelines for module placing, or they just fill the sign with as many LEDs as possible so that the customer has a super bright sign that stands out against the rest. That’s totally understandable when they are powered by grid tied electric. LEDs are very low powered compared to what we’ve been used to in the past, and it doesn’t cost a lot to power them with electric. But what if the sign does not have easy access to power? What if trenching power out to the sign will cost $8,000+? Then you need to think of an alternative power source. You need to go with a solar option.

With a solar lighting system, for every single Watt of power consumption, we need to provide a solar panel and battery capacity to match it. This requires the need to use as little power (Wattage) as possible, but still provide enough light to serve the purpose. The issue with LED modules is that they are installed directly behind the face of the sign and direct the light out of the front of the sign. The light does not have a chance to bounce around in the cabinet before leaving the sign. They illuminate a small area directly in front of them, and that’s it. This results in the use and installation of many modules to illuminate the sign.


As previously mentioned, we need to conserve power in a solar lighting system, so we need to use less LED modules, or use a different type of light fixture. Using less LED modules can cause an uneven distribution of light, so that may not always be the best option. Another option that has been successful for many of our sign light customers is using LED light bars. The light bars are mounted around the perimeter of the sign cabinet, and point directly into the center of the sign. The light bounces around the cabinet and provides an even distribution of light across the face of the sign. A reflective paint covering on the inside of the cabinet can help enhance the end result. It’s different to how most sign makers are illuminating their signs, but we’ve had many happy customers with successful experiences. 

What is normally requesting 80 Watts of LED for say a 4’ x 6’ sign, could be achieved with four 10 Watt light bars. This reduces the power consumption by half, which results in a smaller and lower priced solar system. 


The quantity and placement of the led bars will vary based on the size of the sign. Each light bar is 39” long, and is offered in a 5 Watt and 10 Watt option. We offer systems supplied with between 1 and up to 8 light bars on one system. Additional lights can be added to systems upon request. Illumination time is designed to suit your requirements. It can be up to a certain amount of hours, with a dual timer, or dusk to dawn illumination. Systems and components are kept in stock and can be shipped within a few business days.