How much does an LED wall cost?
We’re often asked this question and wish there was an easier answer, but calculating LED wall cost is quite complicated, as there are lots of factors to take into account.
The best way to get an accurate price is to get in touch with a specialist LED wall installer (like Saturn) and get a personalised quotation. However, we know that it can be useful to have a rough ballpark idea of what to expect, and that when you do get a quote it isn’t always obvious what that cost is made up of and why.
So, we decided to put this guide together to help you understand all the factors involved so you can shop for an LED display wall with confidence.
Introduction to LED Walls
LED walls (not to be confused with LED screens) are vibrant, versatile digital displays that are made up using LED tiles, containers for the tiles called cabinets, a controller/s, a media player computer, and a framework which holds the tiles in place (for a full explanation, check out our ‘what is an LED wall’ article).
Like a normal TV or computer monitor you can use them to show different types of content – e.g. live video, animation, text, photos. However, unlike a screen, they have no set size or dimensions, and this is what makes them so difficult to price up.
Factors Affecting LED Wall Cost
The most obvious place to start when considering costs related to LED walls is with the hardware, though this isn’t the only cost involved when you’re investing in one.
It won’t surprise you to learn that, generally speaking, the larger your LED wall is, the more you’ll spend on buying hardware, but even with this, there are multiple factors dictating price. So, we’ll list each type of hardware and explain the relevant buying factors specific to it.
Let’s start with the smallest piece of hardware required for your LED wall. Media players are small, powerful computers that are used to run your content management software (which what allows you to pick what content you want to show on your display and whereabouts on it). You will only need one for a single LED wall display.
Media players massively range in quality and price. They can cost from around £250 to £2000+.
Controllers are used to convert computer information into data that LED tiles can process and they’re an essential part of an LED wall display. One controller can only translate data for a set number of LEDs/pixels in a display, so if you’ll need enough controllers for the number of LEDs/pixels you have.
Whilst this might seem simple, a large LED wall that has large tiles with a high pixel pitch may need fewer controllers than a much smaller LED wall with a low pixel pitch (to understand pixel pitch, check out our article here).
As with most electrical goods, the quality of controllers varies. The quality is usually dictated by the resolution it can deal with. At the cheaper end, a controller for standard definition would cost around £1k, whereas one for 4k resolution can cost £10k each.
A framework is a modular system that’s used to hold LED tiles/cabinets in place. The bigger the display you want to have, the more modules you’ll need.
The type of framework system you buy will depend on the type of LED wall you want to create. You can purchase off-the-shelf frameworks or custom-made. Contrary to what you’d expect, custom frameworks can sometimes be cheaper than the mass-produced ones. This is because they’re produced in the same country as the site they’ll be installed in, so they require no shipping overseas, and incur no storage costs.
If you want a curved LED wall, you will more than likely need a custom framework. This is because the diameter has to be correct for it to fit the wall it will be attached to. It also needs to have a consistent surface or the tiles will look disjointed, spoiling the display. The more tightly curved it is, the more expensive it is likely to be.
Off-the-peg, flat LED wall frameworks are priced by the square metre.
The most important factor in the cost of LED tiles (and the containers they come in, which are called cabinets), is the resolution/pixel pitch. Generally speaking, the more LEDs a tile has, the more it costs. In contrast to what you might expect, a large tile with a high pixel pitch will cost less than a smaller tile with a low pixel pitch (for more information on pixel pitch, check out our article).
So, if you want a high-resolution display, you’ll need tiles that are more densely packed with LEDs, which will be more expensive.
Once again, as with any commercial product, there are differences in LED tile quality. A low-quality, high-resolution tile will be cheaper, but this is because of the quality of LEDs used.
A cheaper tile will inevitably suffer from LEDs not working properly (for example showing the wrong colour shade or failing to switch on) and whilst one or two not working properly may not be too noticeable, the more that fail, the more noticeable it becomes and the more replacement tiles/cabinets you’ll need to buy.
Another cost consideration to be aware of is whether an LED tile/cabinet is designed for indoor or outdoor use. As you might expect, the weather-resistant hardware for exterior LED walls is more expensive because it needs to be water-tight to protect a tile’s motherboard.
The cost to purchase a cabinet of flat LED wall tiles varies wildly. Cabinets (tiles are sold within a cabinet as a single unit) range in size and quality, and obviously the pixel pitch of the tiles within it will also dictate the cost. A cabinet can range from as little as £300 to £2500 for the highest resolution and quality.
Most curved LED walls are made using flat tiles on a curved framework, but it is possible to buy curved tiles. At the time of writing, these are very expensive and can be double or triple the cost of a standard flat tiles.
So we’ve looked at the hardware, now let’s look at the cost of installing an LED wall.
As you’d imagine, generally speaking, the bigger your LED wall is, the more it costs to install. This is usually based on three elements: transportation costs, equipment required and installer time.
Transportation – A large LED wall will need lots of hardware transported onto your site, so you’ll need to pay for the fuel or courier costs.
Equipment – If you’re installing your LED wall at height (most are), then you’ll need to factor in the cost of equipment hire (e.g. a cherry picker or scaffolding).
Time – All of the hardware – so, framework modules, controllers and each individual LED tile and cabinet – all needs to be connected up, which is very time-consuming. Furthermore, if the building it’s being installed in is listed or hard to access, this will require additional time, and therefore cost.
For an average-sized, indoor, flat, LED wall would usually need at least two installers, so you’ll need to pay for their time. As you’d expect, if you want your LED wall installed out of standard office hours or within a set time period, this will usually cost more because more installers are needed. If your installers are working over a period of a few days, you may need to factor in hotel accommodation/living expenses for them.
Installing a curved LED wall is a very fiddly business. It takes much longer to ensure that everything is properly lined up so that you have a consistent-looking display. It will therefore need significantly more of the installers’ time.
Different AV companies charge very different rates for time. The ones with very experienced installers will usually charge more per day, but can usually install an LED wall display in less time and deliver a better result. The less experienced ones are likely to underestimate the time it will take to complete an LED wall project and may leave you with a working, but disjointed-looking display to avoid the project running over, or charge you for additional time. For that reason alone, it’s always better to get installers that have plenty of experience with LED walls.
As with any digital display, LED walls incur some ongoing running costs, which it’s important to be aware of.
LEDs are an extremely efficient light source, allowing very large LED walls to be constructed with relatively low energy costs, these do however mount up over time and need to be accounted for.
To be able to put content onto an LED wall, you’ll need to license some content management software to be able do it. The software informs the controller of the content you want to show, and the controller translates that information into data that the LED tiles’ motherboards will understand.
Like any other computer, your media player will need an operating system and anti-virus software. If you want to integrate data or third-party software into your display to get live updates, you’ll need to factor in software development costs too.
After a few years all electrical hardware will eventually stop working properly. LED tiles, controllers, and media players are no different. They will all come with a warranty, but once this comes to an end, you’ll need to factor in replacement costs.
LED walls typically have a lifespan of five to ten years, if properly maintained with regular testing and cleaning.
All too often people forget about the cost of creating content for your LED wall. The cost of this will obviously depend on what you want to display, but it can mount up over time so it’s worth allocating some budget to this in order to get the very best out of your wall’s capabilities.
So, are LED walls cheap to buy, install and run? No, not especially. They are, however, generally viewed as a good long-term investment by most of the companies that buy them, simply because they’re attention-grabbing, reliable, easy to maintain, and long-lasting.
As we’ve seen, your total LED wall cost will depend on a range of factors including hardware, software, and installation. The trick is to get the right combination of hardware, getting a good balance between quality and budget.
If you work with a reputable and experienced installer, they’ll give you advice to help you get the right hardware to meet your needs and budget without under or over-specifying it.
Any business decision you make should be based not only on the upfront cost, but also on long-term return on investment (ROI) you can get from it.
Get the right display and the right content and your LED wall will more than pay for itself over time.
If you’d like an accurate LED wall quote based on exactly what you need, contact Saturn Visual today and our team will be happy to help.
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