LED Lighting?

Sylak

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Oct 26, 2006
Location
Alfred, NY
Ok, our district recently yelled at our Drama Department because of how much money spent on lamps in the Coloured Strips and House lights, so we're going to look into LED lights, however I have a few questions for the more educated:
  • What brands do you reccomend?
  • Is it possible to get LED Fresnels? Or do you need LED PAR's with Fresnel lenses?
  • Do you reccomend any specific type of LED Cyc light?
Any replies would be greatly appreciated.
 

zac850

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Nov 21, 2003
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New York
Well, if the district only yelled at you for the strip lights and house lights, I would look to replace only those. I have not had much experience with LED PARs and such, but it seems the intensity isn't anywhere close to what a 1K PAR would be.

For strips, I like the Color Blast/Color Blazes. I think they give very nice light. Color Kinetics would be a good company to start at, they make good gear. How much will you be looking to spend? There is a lot of stuff in the DJ price range, but as with everything else in life, you get what you pay for.
 

gafftaper

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First off do you have any idea how much LED's cost? Strips start around $1000 per foot... You can burn a lot of energy for the cost of replacing your strips. On the flip side your lighting will really rock if you can get them.

Color Kinetics products jump to the top of the list for many. However I encourage you to check out Selador. At LDI everyone was at the Color Kinetics booth... but I was really disappointed compared to the Selador Instruments. http://www.selador.net/ The selador's have a lot more kick to them. They are built like a serious theatrical instrument. The Color Kinetics history is archetectural lighting that has been adapted for theater. The Selador history began with a USITT grant to research the best LED color mixing. Some top industry pros spent a year researching. Once they figured out the best product they took their research and went into business. There is a lot of information about this on their website don't miss the 18 page pdf file on the technology page it's fascinating. The key is they use 7 colors to mix white, not just the 3 that Color Kinetics uses. That means much better deep color saturation and much better whites.

I'm working on a package for a new theater and want to include some LED's. A set of 10- 4 foot Selador strips in the new 3 watt version with yokes, and the lenses to control the spread is about $60,000. You can get the 1 Watt version for about 25% less but once you've seen the 3 watt, you will always be disappointed. I believe that Color Kinetics is using all 1 watt lamps still and they are priced around $1000 per foot.

As for Pars, Altman is using Color Kinetics technology for their pars. So that's a good place to look. But your cost is going ot be insane.
 
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Van

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Portland, Or.
Ok, our district recently yelled at our Drama Department because of how much money spent on lamps in the Coloured Strips and House lights, so we're going to look into LED lights, however I have a few questions for the more educated:
  • What brands do you reccomend?
  • Is it possible to get LED Fresnels? Or do you need LED PAR's with Fresnel lenses?
  • Do you reccomend any specific type of LED Cyc light?
Any replies would be greatly appreciated.
For as cool as I think led lighting is and how I truly believe it will one day revolutionize our industry, I have to throw in my 2 cents worth and say, not yet. The Colors aren't there yet, the intensity is not there yet, the cost is ridiculous. I suggest you do your home work then show the school district how much it would cost to save the cost of lamps.
LED lighting will get there. I'm sure a lot of people are going to disagree with me and say it's perfect, my opinion will still stand , Give it three to five years. Let somebody else , say Broadway, spend all thier money on what will turn into R&D money.
 

cutlunch

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Jan 12, 2005
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Sylak a lot of good stuff has been said about LED lighting so I will comment about something else.

First when you say House lights does this mean the lights that provide the light for the audience to get in the theatre? Which is what it would mean here in NZ. Or are you using to indicate the theatre lights that are over the audience to light the stage?

Now my first thought would be why are you blowing so many lights? I have done shows with two week runs + rehearsal time and only had at most two lights blow and that was due to old age. What model strip lights are you using and have these got the correct rated bulbs in them.

Are people blowing bulbs when they focus them? This is quite easy to do if you have the level set to high when moving them during focus.
Are you using pre-heat ?

Also how clean is your power supply ? Do you notice sudden dips and spikes in the odinary lights.

Your school might buy you the LED lights but if they are complaing about the lamp budget wait to they see the cost of LED fittings.

Also a lot of the time blowing an excessive number lamps can come down to bad practice. It is this bad practice that needs to be worked on.

Also another thing that can be looked at is the quality of the lamps you are buying. Ship maybe able to tell you the best performing / enduring lamp for each type of fixture. It maybe if you are blowing a lot of the same type of lamp is it a bad batch? Once again Ship would probably know what problems are out there.

If you look into this problem and manage to bring it under control the School District will look more favourably on the drama department in the future.

I know you won't have an exact figure but what sort % of bulbs need replacing each year?

By the way I am not anti LED lighting I just think you should get a handle on the cause of the problem. This would apply especially if there is a problem with the power supply which could then damage the LED lights as well.
 

SHARYNF

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Sep 3, 2006
I'm about to evaluate 12 par 64 type led units for a project I have coming up.

They are made in China inexpensive but seem to be better than the ADJ Chauvet.

The output level seems to be around a 250 watt. Really depends on how you use them for washes etc they seem to work quite well, and for concert type stuff if you can control the rest of the lights my thinking is these might work well. Looks like you can get around 10 or 11 different colors that look good (of course you can mix and create colors but from a practical standpoint 10 + useful colors, and they have built in dimming, only use 4 channels r g b white.

A lot depends on say your potential par set up.

If for instance you said 10 colors, you would have roughly the equiv of 2500 watts of color, spread out over 12 instruments. to do the same thing you would be looking at 120 pars which is a lot of instruments power and dimmer channels etc.

SO for some things my thinking is that these might work

Sharyn
 

Sylak

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Oct 26, 2006
Location
Alfred, NY
First off to gafftaper:
We're not planing on getting LED strips, mostly because its a six figure money to revamp the on stage electrics with asbestos and needing to upgrade to boxes where the electric unplugs for fire code reasons

Next off to cutlunch
Sylak a lot of good stuff has been said about LED lighting so I will comment about something else.

First when you say House lights does this mean the lights that provide the light for the audience to get in the theatre? Which is what it would mean here in NZ. Or are you using to indicate the theatre lights that are over the audience to light the stage?
House lights as in lights which provide light over the audience.

Now my first thought would be why are you blowing so many lights? I have done shows with two week runs + rehearsal time and only had at most two lights blow and that was due to old age. What model strip lights are you using and have these got the correct rated bulbs in them.
The auditorium is alot used during the day as a class room, so with the wing planel/panic buttons on, we have both strips and house lights on blowing them. As to model. I'm not sure but i do know we have the proper rated bulbs in them (150 Watt)

Are people blowing bulbs when they focus them? This is quite easy to do if you have the level set to high when moving them during focus.
Are you using pre-heat ?
The Fresles aren't where we're blowing bulbs, but we did get a nice hidden compliant about power usage regarding our lights, hence why we're looking at LED's

Also how clean is your power supply ? Do you notice sudden dips and spikes in the odinary lights.
No, it's very constant. I believe we got the dimer system completely redone in '95, but not to sure about that, I'll check it out.

Your school might buy you the LED lights but if they are complaing about the lamp budget wait to they see the cost of LED fittings.
They offered the LED's because they have the view of even if the fixtures are more expensive, they'll be saving energy and bulb costs in the long run

Also a lot of the time blowing an excessive number lamps can come down to bad practice. It is this bad practice that needs to be worked on.
The last time we actually bought Strip and House bulbs (before this year) was 5 years ago, but its pretty expensive whenever we do (6 boxes of each 150w and 200w bulbs)

If you look into this problem and manage to bring it under control the School District will look more favourably on the drama department in the future.
Well they're buying us a Congo Jr next year so...

I know you won't have an exact figure but what sort % of bulbs need replacing each year?
About 60%-80% of the Strips, and probably about 70% of the House Lights

By the way I am not anti LED lighting I just think you should get a handle on the cause of the problem. This would apply especially if there is a problem with the power supply which could then damage the LED lights as well.
Like mentioned earlier, the problem is that we actually have some drama-style classes that use the aud, that i don't think we should drop (improv and public speaking) and they use strips/house for 1-2 periods each day (90 minutes per period because of the block scheduling) plus you add concerts, club meetings, and performances as well as other assemblies, so we're already doing what we can.

To Van:
As always, your wisdom like insight brings thought to the table. thanks for the input

And in general:
With what we're going for, replacing the Fresnels on 1st and 2nd electric electric with LED's and our old scoops with Cyc lights (with cyc lights being a priority) the idea is to save money on lamps and energy despite the cost.
 

Pie4Weebl

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color blazes are amazing for cyc washes. My college got a package of them and they are brilliant, it is also nice to save all those circuits.
 

BillESC

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Kilmarnock, VA
The Altman fixtures are not as expensive as you would think and offer an output close to a 1K Par 64.

When you consider a 95% reduction in electrical consumption and the savings from not having to buy gel or replace a bulb for 60,000 hours of operation, the fixtures in fact more than pay for themselves quite quickly.
 

JSFox

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The Tundra
I agree with cutlunch. Look at WHY you're blowing lamps first. Something don't sound right with all that you're saying. Of course, if you still have asbestos around I'd say you are due for some replacement...

I'm a big fan of LED's, but I don't think there is any way with current price/performance to even come close to justifying them on any sort of cost saving basis (though I try).

ColorKinetics - A very significant percentage of the cost of ANY LED instrument sold in the US goes to ColorKinetics and their attorneys. I normally stick up for patent and copyright holders but in this case I don't. I do not believe ColorKinetics has a solid enough basis for many of their lawsuits and I dislike they way they're holding the industry hostage.
 

BillESC

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I'm a big fan of LED's, but I don't think there is any way with current price/performance to even come close to justifying them on any sort of cost saving basis (though I try).
Actually savings can be significant.
Using the Altman Star Par as compared to a 1K Par 64 here's what 60,000 hours of operation costs.
The Par 64 will need 30 replacement bulbs at a cost of about $ 750.00
The Par 64 costs one kilowatt per hour to operate. At $ .06/KWH your electrical expense for 60,000 hours will be $ 3600.00
The Star Par will need no replacement bulbs.
The Star Par uses approximately 50w per hour. Using the same KWH rate, 60,000 hours will have an electrical expense of $ 180.00
I won't even go into the cost of gel.
 

jklak

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Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
It seems like you could reduce the wear and tear on your equipment by limiting what gets used every day. Classes probably don't need several thousand watts of illumination every day. Why don't you point a couple of scoops at the stage and have the classes use those two instruments and the house lights on a daily basis? Just a thought. Take it or leave it.
 

zac850

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Location
New York
It seems like you could reduce the wear and tear on your equipment by limiting what gets used every day. Classes probably don't need several thousand watts of illumination every day. Why don't you point a couple of scoops at the stage and have the classes use those two instruments and the house lights on a daily basis? Just a thought. Take it or leave it.
Yep. If the real issue is that a classroom is running all the fixtures, then lets give the classroom something else to use. Get perhaps 3 scoops and just shoot them down for the classes. Rig a switch so that the teacher can walk in flip the switch, and the scoops go on. Don't even run it through your dimmers. Also, I suggest explaining that if the district wants to have good quality shows, something that they can be proud of, they are going to have to spend a few dollars on lamps. For what your talking about, LEDs are a frankly absurd idea.

Good luck
Zac
 

Sylak

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Alfred, NY
Yep. If the real issue is that a classroom is running all the fixtures, then lets give the classroom something else to use. Get perhaps 3 scoops and just shoot them down for the classes. Rig a switch so that the teacher can walk in flip the switch, and the scoops go on. Don't even run it through your dimmers. Also, I suggest explaining that if the district wants to have good quality shows, something that they can be proud of, they are going to have to spend a few dollars on lamps. For what your talking about, LEDs are a frankly absurd idea.

Good luck
Zac
That would work if the teacher didn't have both a booth key direct a play. plus, both theatre classes use the full stage more often than not, which is the main problem. (that and nobody feeels the need to reprogram teh panics and wing panel, and the pit scoops are on the wing panel not panic buttons

But we don't use all teh lights durring classes, it's just the 3rd electric scoops, pit scoops, and the strips. Out 1st and 2nd electric fresnels are off and need to be controlled by the lighting console, so the order of priority of replaceing fixtures is scoops (replace with cyclos) then strips, teh teh Fresnels, and then when we run out of house lights order LED bulbs so it's done slowly, and probably not untill i get out of this school so the funds can be done over several yeras
 

zac850

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New York
I know of a theater that has 4 halogen floods as non dims (2 on first and 2nd electric). I would suggest taking the time and running a few non-dim lines and perhaps then setting up some halogen top light. Again, non-dim.

This should allow enough light on stage and not burn out your strips.

LEDs aren't what you want. They are not bright enough, and are probably much too expensive.
 

Sylak

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Oct 26, 2006
Location
Alfred, NY
a neighboring school distrit ive worked in has teh flood lights, but only for they're wings. I don't feel they're actually bright enough to teach a theater class in. Also, its interusting how many peopel have told me that LED's are bright enough and how many have told me they aren't. Certainly not bright enough for LEKO replacement, but from waht i've see of LED's first hand definatley bright enough for PAR or Fresnel replacement
 

SHARYNF

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Sep 3, 2006
The trick with LED's IMO is to look at them from the perspective that each instrument can easily be putting out the color you are looking for, so unless you have scrollers on PARs or Fresnels, you wind up with many more led's that you can assign to a given color, SO while each instrument may be lower in output, the overall output level in comparison can be very similar.

I agree we are not there in Leko's to say the least, BUT 10WATT LED'S are getting more practical and could be combined for a combination of color and output

Sharyn
 

Andrewr

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Englandshire
What nobody has said yet is what the actual performance of the fixture is like.

So far the only units I have seen worth the trouble are the SGM Palco 3's and the £50 made in China LED PAR56 stuff.

The Palco's are reasonalby good. But only for uplighting and other accent type stuff. They can't do a full spectrum white (only 1 brand of LED light can get close. And it uses 7 colour mixing to get a decent white)

The £50 stuff is good because of the cost, its not that much more than the cost of 2 Par64's (inc lamps!) per unit. Its nowhere near the output, but gives a fantastic blue and the gel never melts (when uplighting)

To give a real equivalent you are going to need lots of fixtures, even of the Luxeon (or indeed of the new and quite scary 20w edixeon) LED's.

I had a demo of a 36x3w RGB unit for Arcitechrual use, it was a nice narrow beam, but needed to be about 4 times brighter before it would be a reasonable replacement for Par64. This unit cost £750 plus (PLUS!!!) contoller/driver. And is actually very representative of current technology.

The Single most popular LED fixture (apart from possibly the £50 par56 stuff) is the Thomas Pixel Line (in the UK at least) because of what it can do, not how bright it is. Interesting eh?

And thats without getting into the whole problem of them being pure colour units (compare the transmission spectrum of a blue LED and your favorate blue gel) Then point them at things. (I love it, you can uplight wood with blue without it looking green!)

Its nice that people are looking at reducing electricty bills, but are you willing to compromise your lighting? I have 4 LED par56 (cheap chinese tat) and will be getting 12 more (I installed 90 in the foyer!) primarily for uplighting and lighting drum kits and stuff (we do quite a few rock gigs) But the most I would use them for is cyc washes. They just don't work for lighting people. Or make decent beams in haze!