The Importance of Structures
Some Integrators and clients often overlook the importance of display-supporting structures when upgrading their conference rooms or installing a large visualization system. Every room or location should not be considered equal. Every display type should not be considered equal. To determine the best structural solution for each type of AV system, it is best to visit the site and/or look at the site plans or as-builts to do a thorough inspection to determine any challenges there may be. Walls, ceilings, and floors may be needed in any combination as part of the structural support solution.
Without a properly designed and installed structure, consequences can range from overheating electronics, to shifting over time, to full-blown safety concerns. We define requirements early on through site investigations. Our design practices identify any structural challenges early on and have solutions implemented before we start the installation process.
There are six key things to look for when evaluating the structural elements of audio visual recommendations.
In some instances, a building owner won’t be able to modify or replace a wall to allow for a better mounting service. For example, consider updating the AV equipment in a historic opera house. There won’t be any suitable walls to mount displays or audio equipment to directly. Floor base mounts are a better solution with equipment then anchored to the wall to prevent any chance of tipping. In this case, the floor takes a majority of the weight and the wall holds it in place.
Like we mentioned above, there can be some severe consequences to using the incorrect wall mount or building a subpar structure. Integrators should specify the right hardware, have the correct measurements, and know the weight limits on all the materials connected to and utilized.
Will the installed system be serviceable? Every item needs to be accessible. We don’t want anyone to have any issue changing a cable, filter, lamp, or another part. Work with a qualified company that knows the display product being used, where each screw, wire, and connection point will be. In many cases with Front Serviceable LED, there is still equipment mounted on the rear of the system, and you need to be able to access those parts for updates or replacement.
There are great products that can increase the serviceability of your AV systems. Wall displays with pullout mounts, like the Wallmate, offer quick pullout access to system components behind the display.
Protecting the Equipment
Electronics don’t like excessive heat. A poorly designed structure will trap the heat generated by the display, allowing the heat to build up like an oven. A good structure will allow the heat to flow away from the electronics and depending on the system it can be quite tricky. In some instances, extra fans may need to be added to provide extra airflow and create natural flow paths.
Single panel displays in meeting rooms and common spaces are getting larger, with up to 98” used more frequently. Multi-element displays, like large video walls that use tiled, direct-view LED panels are becoming more commonplace. Poorly designed structures can cause installation teams to take longer and can increase the risk of damage to sensitive technology, especially if the alignment of multiple elements is difficult. A well-designed structure will allow for a simplified installation process, speed of panel installation, and quality of alignment is highly dependent on the underlying structure, not just the installers, at the same time, faster installation should not compromise final alignment and image quality results.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) must be taken into consideration on all projects. We want to make sure everyone can utilize their new technology. If even a few of your team or audience cannot use the technology it’s being wasted.
Long Term Stability
An important element of structural design is the material used for the structure itself. The differences between high quality and low-quality support structure can become apparent over time. Heavy displays, whether single or multi-element, can fatigue the underlying structure. Some applications may need to be isolated from vibrations from, say, a nearby train line or subway. In as little as a year, a poor structure may start to sag. In multi-element video walls, this will create visibly misaligned panels. The resultant poor image quality can negate your entire initial investment.
With these six things in mind, your AV system structure is most importantly safe but also usable, easy to install, and will last for years. Next time you are considering a new AV system or an upgrade be sure to pick an integrator with the capability to ensure the solution will cover including the back-end structure the right way.