How to build environmentally friendly digital signage

There are business and environmental costs associated with your chosen digital signage solution. These costs can include higher upfront hardware costs, higher ongoing electricity costs, a larger carbon footprint, and more electronic waste. Businesses can avoid these costs and reduce their environmental impact by choosing a digital signage player that is appropriate for their needs.

A person holding a small plant and taking part in environmentally friendly actions.

Businesses are becoming increasingly conscious of their environmental footprint, and many companies have developed corporate strategies for “going green.” Some companies have already implemented these plans, such as Apple. The major electronics manufacturer announced in April 2018 that the company now runs on 100% renewable energy.

While SMEs may not have the budget of a behemoth like Apple to invest in going-green strategies, SMEs can certainly take concrete steps to reduce their carbon footprint. These steps can include using environmentally-friendly inputs, reducing electricity and paper usage, and, when it comes to IT equipment, reducing electronic waste.

These environmentally-conscious strategies certainly extend to the world of digital signage, particularly to digital signage player. In this article, we’ll get into the details on how businesses can be eco-friendly when it comes to their digital signage deployments.

Where businesses go wrong when it comes to digital signage players

A digital signage player is a small physical device that renders digital signage content to a display screen. This device retrieves media content via an internet connection, processes this content, and then feeds the content to a digital signage display screen via HDMI cable.

Digital signage players come in a variety of shapes and sizes with a wide range of possible features. Some digital signage players are fit for rendering multiple video feeds to massive display screens in Times Square. However, other digital signage players are instead suited for displaying a single media stream to a 40-inch TV screen.

Often, businesses will purchase a digital signage player that far exceeds their needs and intended use cases. For example, a company may buy a digital signage player that can support six screens at once yet only have one digital signage screen in their store. While companies make this purchasing decision with only the best intentions, it nevertheless produces unnecessary costs for the business and the environment.

How digital signage players can yield unnecessary business and environmental costs

So, when a business purchases a digital signage player that exceeds the business’s technical requirements, what happens? What are the monetary and environmental costs that come with such a decision?

First, such a decision means that the business needs to pay more money in upfront hardware costs for the digital signage player itself. More capable digital signage players require more computing power and more advanced processing chips than more basic players. Of course, these more advanced components cost more to purchase.

The cost difference between digital signage players can vary greatly, so it is hard to put an exact number on the added expense in hardware costs that businesses incur. However, as a gross estimate, this cost difference can easily be hundreds of dollars. Note that many companies have multiple digital signs in multiple locations. Importantly, this cost difference is incurred per player and will need to be multiplied by the number of digital signage players that the business requires.

In addition to higher upfront costs for more expensive hardware, purchasing the wrong digital signage player can also result in higher ongoing electricity costs. Advanced digital signage players require more electricity to run than more basic digital signage players require. Advanced digital signage players have more power-intensive computer chips, and some players even need electricity to run fans and other cooling systems.

This extra electricity for more advanced digital signage players also results in higher costs for the environment. Electricity has to come from somewhere, and often electricity is produced via methods with high carbon emissions, such as via coal-powered power plants. The more electricity your digital signage players consume, the larger your business’s carbon footprint will be.

Another avoidable cost associated with choosing the wrong digital signage player is excess electronic waste. Also known as e-waste, electronic waste refers to the physical remnants (wires, circuit boards, casings) of any disposed electronic device. Like all devices, digital signage players also have product life cycles, and they yield e-waste when they are discarded. Advanced digital signage players often have more physical components than basic players and thereby produce more pounds (lb) of e-waste at the end of their life cycle.

This e-waste often contains toxic chemicals which can be harmful to the environment if they end up in landfills and seep into water sources. While these environmental costs rarely burden the individual company, they have negative ramifications in the long term for the public at large.

Savings and benefits when choosing the right digital signage solution

So, what happens if a company chooses a digital signage player that is perfectly aligned with their needs and does not have excess features and components? In this event, the company reduces the business and environmental costs described above to a fraction of what they would otherwise pay for a more powerful digital signage player. This cost reduction includes less upfront hardware costs and less ongoing electricity costs. From the environmental side, the company will produce a smaller carbon footprint and produce less e-waste.

We spent some time comparing the business and environmental costs of digital signage players for a variety of makes and models. You can find the details of our calculations in the article itself. However, we will share some key findings below. When comparing a basic digital signage player that can display image, video, and live web page content to a TV screen (the Screenly Player with the more advanced digital signage player (the HP RP5800), we found the following:

  • Choosing the Screenly Player can result in up to an 80x decrease in CO2 emissions.
  • At just $3.40 a year in electricity costs, the Screenly Player can result in $269 per year in electricity savings.
  • When discarded, the Screenly Player produces 14.5 lbs less of electronic waste.

In addition to comparative savings from choosing the right player, note that businesses can enjoy cost savings from digital signage regardless of their digital signage player. For example, many companies can save on printing and ink costs when they replace printed announcements with digital content features on a digital display.

Additionally, with digital signage software, businesses can save money by allocating fewer employee hours to digital signage management duties. Digital signage software allows employees to easily manage content on their digital signs via a web interface. Without digital signage software, employees have to physically visit each sign to change out content via a USB drive. Physically visiting each digital sign is an extremely time consuming process, especially for businesses with large, multi-location deployments. To learn more on this topic, check out our article on digital signage ROI.

Selecting the most eco-friendly digital signage player for your business

To maximally reduce business and environmental costs associated with digital signage, companies must choose a player that correctly fits their needs. Most companies with digital signage only require players that can feed image and video content to a single TV screen.

For these businesses, one of the most cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly digital signage players is the Screenly Player. The Screenly Player runs on a Raspberry Pi system-on-a-chip computer, which only requires 3 watts of electricity to run. Additionally, the Screenly Player weighs just 0.45 lbs and will produce minimal e-waste at the end of its lifecycle. The Screenly Player is cost-efficient too, costing around just USD $100 per unit (prices vary depending on included accessory components).

To get started with cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly digital signage, explore your Screenly Player options. You can purchase a Screenly Player pre-assembled with all required components, or you can build a Screenly Player yourself with your own Raspberry Pi device. Next, to get started with digital signage management software, sign up for your online Screenly account.

If you have any questions about getting started with Screenly digital signage, don’t hesitate to reach out to Screenly Support. We’re always here to help!

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