LED Video Walls vs Projection
Updated: Apr 28, 2020
One question that has been coming up as of late pertains to the use of LED video walls versus the use of traditional projector and screens for events. Each have their own unique advantages over the other. We'll take this time discuss what those advantages are and how they can help in determining which form of video streaming to implement for live events.
For our power consumption comparison, let's use a 16' x 9' video display which is common for large conference general sessions and plenaries. Both LED walls and projectors have brightness settings that can effect power usage, however, we are going to use max power requirements for this example. The most substantial factor that impacts power usage for LED walls is the resolution or pixel count. Pixel count is determined by the total amount of individual LEDs that make up a video wall. A 3.9mm 16' x 9' video wall, which is pretty customary for indoor events, is made up of 60 500x500mm panels. Each panel consists of 16,384 pixels and typically requires 170 watts 240 volts of power. This equates to 1.417 amps per panel. Multiply that by 60 panels. Now you have 983,040 pixels requiring 85amps to adequately power up a 16' x 9' display. In contrast, let's take a look at a 20,000 lumen projector. The power required for a projector with those specs would typically be around 2300 watts 240 volts which translates to 9.583amps. As you can see the difference is pretty significant. In layman's terms, each video wall would require 5 separate plugs whereas a projector would only require 1.
Use & Location
There are several applications that can be used for streaming video content and graphics however, for simplicity we'll stick with the most practical and common, large meetings. Location, as it relates to usability, is another major consideration when comparing the use of an LED wall versus a screen and projector. Egress and viewing distance are major factors to consider when developing your floor plan and making a determination on which solution to implement. Projection can have limitations depending on use. For most applications, such as streaming content and IMag, there is a formula for which projection is adequate. When weighing projection options, there are two factors to consider: the placement of the screen and the placement of the projector. Screens can either be rear or front projection. The decision of what direction to go in will ultimately depend on space and access to additional inventory in the form of projector lenses. Front projection is more advantageous when space is at a premium due to the screens ability to be placed closer to the wall. Rear projection typically requires a minimum of 12ft behind the screen unless an ultra short throw lens is available. The use of projection for back stage graphics is where limitations apply as rear projection would be the only solution. Front projection would not be ideal due to the presence of presenters and stage decor. When it comes to LED Video Walls, there are practically no limitations as it pertains to placement. As can projection screens, LED video walls have the ability to be ground supported or flown from the ceiling. The advantage LED walls present are the absence of a projector. The only space to account for is distance for egress as it relates to outriggers if being ground supported. Outriggers are around 3-3.5ft in length. LED walls, when ground supported, can be easily lowered or raised and adjusted should there be a need to increase or decrease the size.
Many factors can effect the cost of installation for either a LED wall or projection. We discussed power requirements earlier which gave the nod to projection. Other factors include rental cost and labor. Rental costs will ultimately depend on the vendor that you choose as pricing can vary across markets. We will be sticking with a 16' x 9' display for this comparison as well. For a 60 panel LED video wall, the average price range per panel is roughly $100/panel. That normally will include the cost of the processor and cabling. In addition, there may also be an additional charge for lifts and truss. Two genie lifts will run you around $250 each and we'll add in an additional $150 for the truss. That brings the rental cost to $6650. The rental cost for projection has three parts as well; the screen, the projector and the projector lens. A 20,000 lumen projector and lens package will cost you approximately $3000. A screen and dress kit package will tack on an additional $400 for a total of $3400. Now we'll take a look at labor. Set up time and strike time for an LED video Wall is a two man crew job and should take about 3 hours. Projection set up and strike is also a two man crew job but should only take 2 hours.
Its pretty clear that projection is the more cost effective option in an apples to apples comparison. If costs were not a factor in making a decision, I would always choose to go with an LED video wall due to the flexibility, lack of needing a lens and picture brightness. Ultimately, you will have to decide when you sit down with your audio visual vendor which is the best option for you based on your needs and budget.