Aisle Lighting

ACTSTech

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Nov 13, 2019
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USA
We're in the process of a major renovation of a building and we've it a snag, so I'm throwing open the floor for discussion and brainstorming.

The space, at the moment, does not have dimmable house lighting. To comply with fire code, we have to have some sort of illumination in the aisles. The issue is that the venue needs to have a flexible seating plan, so the only permanent aisles will be on the sides. Those, I think, we have covered. However, if we do a center aisle, we will need illumination. I don't want to try to focus ellipsoidals on the aisle, and we're trying to avoid a permanent strip of rope lights mounted on the floor. Anyone have ideas or suggestions? The floor will probably be tile so that we can move chairs in and out, risers, tables, whatever. I was hoping someone made an illuminated runner, but that was a total fantasy.

If you have a flexible venue, how do you handle illumination for fire code?
 

teqniqal

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Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas
You say "I don't want to try to focus ellipsoidals on the aisle". Why not? You just said you have a flexible space. It pretty much comes with the territory. OR you could install some center aisle lights (similar to your perimeter lights) and place them on a switch (preferably an automatically resetting switch so the default is ON).

The dimming control for the aisle lights should be programmed with a lower limit to prevent them from dimming below the NFPA required 1/5 fc level -- don't rely on the board operator to know this or to do this.

Your Aisle lights should be powered from an emergency power source (generator / battery back-up) so they work during a power failure. With LED type lights the load is fairly minimal and can be handled with a local battery type UPS (listed for emergency lighting, of course -- not a generic computer UPS).

Trying to use 'rope lights' or 'electro luminescent tape' or other up-firing lights technically doesn't satisfy the aisle light requirement as the code calls for the light to illuminate the surface fairly uniformly, and unless you completely cover the aisle with the rope / tape lights you are not achieving this intent. I know some movie theatres (cinemas) do this, but I don't think they have thoroughly vetted it against the intent of the code - not to mention it is VERY visually distracting to the audience!
 

sk8rsdad

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Invisible UV paint and a black light cannon? I have no idea if that would satisfy any AHJ though. Ellipsoidals would be a better solution. Dedicated LED ellipsoidals with a suitable dimming profile even more so.
 

ACTSTech

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USA
You say "I don't want to try to focus ellipsoidals on the aisle". Why not? You just said you have a flexible space. It pretty much comes with the territory. OR you could install some center aisle lights (similar to your perimeter lights) and place them on a switch (preferably an automatically resetting switch so the default is ON).

The dimming control for the aisle lights should be programmed with a lower limit to prevent them from dimming below the NFPA required 1/5 fc level -- don't rely on the board operator to know this or to do this.

Your Aisle lights should be powered from an emergency power source (generator / battery back-up) so they work during a power failure. With LED type lights the load is fairly minimal and can be handled with a local battery type UPS (listed for emergency lighting, of course -- not a generic computer UPS).

Trying to use 'rope lights' or 'electro luminescent tape' or other up-firing lights technically doesn't satisfy the aisle light requirement as the code calls for the light to illuminate the surface fairly uniformly, and unless you completely cover the aisle with the rope / tape lights you are not achieving this intent. I know some movie theatres (cinemas) do this, but I don't think they have thoroughly vetted it against the intent of the code - not to mention it is VERY visually distracting to the audience!
The issue with the ellipsoidals is not that I can't do it, it's that the floor is fairly flexible for seating, the ceiling, not so much. There isn't the circuitry available not the lighting positions without stealing from the stage illumination and instruments we currently own.

Ironically, the rope lights in the floor is what was suggested by the architect, which I pointed out (as you correctly did along with others on here) that there's no illumination of the floor, so something just beyond the lights is completely missed due to the lights in their eyes. The side aisles I plan on using 120V LED tape angled downward out of the patrons (and actors) eyes, but it's the center aisle (or other configuration) that is causing us the headaches. At the moment, I'm tempted to tell the fire marshal that we're not going to have a center aisle until the problem is rectified. Don't think that's going to fly though.
 

Ben Stiegler

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Sf Bay Area
If you have the budget for "something in the aisles, as required by law", maybe it can fund add'l ellipspoidals and overhead hanging positions. Extra bummer to have to refocus these every time the room is reset, tho. Maybe moving lights? (it gets worser and worser, eh?)
 
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ACTSTech

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USA
My favorite statement from the architect was "can we just leave your house lights on all the time?" I said, "Can the movie theaters leave their lights on all the time?"

The big issue is the power. There's two lighting positions in the front of house, the next place would be the balcony rail, so anyone walking back to the rear of the house is going to have a spotlight in their eyes as the rail is 12' off the floor. The best solution that I see is to fix the house lights so they're dimmable and run them at a level that's low enough to not cause too much distraction and still provide the 1 fc that they're asking for. The guts of my house lights look like it should be an easy fix, but the electrician isn't so easily swayed. We can't afford $2200 per light if there's 10 that need to be retrofitted.
 

jtweigandt

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Aug 2, 2013
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Moline Il
Contrasting color runners would be good for whatever demo you need to do for the inspector.. Then I found this stuff?
could you lay out 3 or 4 patterns of your most used configs... and only light the config that is in use? Just riffin here but this looks like
pretty versatile stuff.. Or alternatively run a strip of this down both sides of your carpet runner on the rubber edge, and then you have your
lighted carpet runner. Could probably even power from a UPS with the little claxon taken out, and it could live under a specially configured aisle chair with
a rack to hold the ups. https://lighttape.com/ Sample kits with power supply https://shop.lighttape.com/products/1-2-build-a-kit-1
 
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jtweigandt

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Moline Il
or clip one of these babies to every other or every third aisle chair. They are LED and will go for an entire performance and beyond . They sense the darkness and only turn on when needed. Rechargable.
I could probably get my son to design a 3d printed chair clip to pop em on and off the leg tube. Build a power strip rack for charging and storage
 

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ACTSTech

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Thank you @jtweigandt for that. I hadn't seen the tape, but I'll keep it in mind. I do like the idea of the clip on mount.

There doesn't seem to be a consensus about what designates an aisle in non-traditional settings (like theater in the round or cabaret seating) so that's the trap. We submitted several drawings of typical seating we'd use and the side aisles will pretty much never change. I think we've got that covered. I think the problem really stems from the fact that there's no one doing anything like what we're trying to do in the area. Not that what we're doing is unheard of, it's just that everyone here is thinking one way, and we're trying to push the envelope a little. Emerging from the steel mill era isn't an easy task around these parts.
 

RickR

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Spokane, WA the great "Inland Northwest"
Pre-designing the aisles is also a trap. The fire marshal expects to see compliance on any visit, no matter what was approved beforehand!

Given the very low lightl levels required, I'd look for a lower power and cheaper solution than theatrical ellipssoidals. Narrow beam track lights? Mini pendants? Even clip lights!

Remember the light level doesn't have to go above that extreme minimum. And if your house lights are on the emergency system them the aisle lights don't need to be as well.
 

cbrandt

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Dec 7, 2011
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Michigan
I like track lighting for this. It gives you a permanent item to install, that is focused for specific uses, but can be reconfigured if you do something out of your ordinary arrangements.
 
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ACTSTech

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Given the very low lightl levels required, I'd look for a lower power and cheaper solution than theatrical ellipssoidals. Narrow beam track lights? Mini pendants? Even clip lights!

Remember the light level doesn't have to go above that extreme minimum. And if your house lights are on the emergency system them the aisle lights don't need to be as well.
Track lighting might work if I can find something that can be pretty narrowly aimed from 25' above the floor. For the initial shows, I'm curious about some rechargable lights to clip on the chairs. The 3D printed clips would take some design but might make it easier in the long run. I'd like to find those little panel nightlights that I could run off a battery. The emergency lighting will kick in if we lose power, so these would be irrelevant.
 

cbrandt

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Dec 7, 2011
Location
Michigan
We've used Soraa lamps in a few applications. They offer a wide range of options, and accessories that attach directly to the front of the lamp for beam control. Take a look at their catalog and see if something would work for you.
 
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jtweigandt

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Moline Il
Track lighting might work if I can find something that can be pretty narrowly aimed from 25' above the floor. For the initial shows, I'm curious about some rechargable lights to clip on the chairs. The 3D printed clips would take some design but might make it easier in the long run. I'd like to find those little panel nightlights that I could run off a battery. The emergency lighting will kick in if we lose power, so these would be irrelevant.
I will see if my son (or rather tell him.. I still put a roof over your head) will design a chair leg clip for me with dummy slots for the 110 edison plug.. That would satisfy the mounting requirements for the flashlight, the little panel night light or any number of devices with an integrated male edison. He's pretty quick on the CAD. Heres a battery backed nightlight style with adjustable brightness
 
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RonHebbard

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Waterdown, ON, CA
I will see if my son (or rather tell him.. I still put a roof over your head) will design a chair leg clip for me with dummy slots for the 110 edison plug.. That would satisfy the mounting requirements for the flashlight, the little panel night light or any number of devices with an integrated male edison. He's pretty quick on the CAD. Heres a battery backed nightlight style with adjustable brightness
@jtweigandt On my desktop PC, I'm perceiving a rather LARGE black space on my screen, possibly where I should be seeing an illustration?
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

ACTSTech

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USA
Is that picture on the easel on the left side of the picture a rendering of the final product? Looks like it'll be a pretty cool space.
That was the initial rendering that has undergone a million and a half changes but was the start point for donations from the families and foundations. Structurally, it hasn't changed, aesthetically, it's a work in progress.
 

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