When it comes to the LED display industry, no matter who is manufacturing your display or message center, there are only a few brands that are manufacturing the LED diodes themselves. Creating these bulbs, while a complex process, amounts to two major parts that need to be distinguished. The first is the production of the LED semiconductor itself (the metal part inside the bulb) and the second is the encapsulation of that semiconductor to create the bulb (the glass surrounding the metal part).
The major brands considered as choices for LED display boards are the Japanese made Nitchia; the American made Cree, the Chinese made Silan, and a host of other Taiwanese brands like HPO or Epistar.
Nitchia is the consensus favorite in terms of quality and bulb life. The problem with Nitchia is that it can be prohibitively expensive and the difference in performance vs. other brands doesn’t typically justify the expense. Cree is a favorite in the US because it is American made and they perform their own encapsulation, therefore controlling the entire process. In actuality, if you look at the statistics behind Cree bulbs, they degrade at a faster rate than almost any other brand. In fact, most colors degrade over 10% in the first year! Color uniformity in Cree is, however, very good. Silan is typically the cheapest brand available on the market. The reason that Silan has a bad reputation for quality, aside from being made in China and the implications of the China brand relative to quality, is that Silan does not encapsulate their own semiconductors.
Instead, encapsulation is performed by third party companies which may or may not be using suitable semiconductors and may or may not be doing a good job. This means that when it comes to buying Silan, the most important aspect to look into is where the Silan semiconductors are being encapsulated. When you compare the raw data on the semiconductors, they actually outperform most other brands. Their red LED’s in particular have phenomenal performance but the brand becomes unreliable due to the lack of control they have over the rest of the supply chain. There are several Taiwanese manufacturers that do a great job of controlling their quality while also providing a low cost product. This is where the best values are found. Among them are HPO and Epistar in particular. HPO is a great choice for high brightness applications like message centers where the brighter the bulb, the better.
When it comes to choosing an LED diode brand, there are many options in the market with positives and negatives to each one. New data is always pouring is as new technologies change the landscape, leaving consensus opinions in the dust. Do your homework before deciding which LED diode to purchase in your next LED display board.