# Outdoor Lighting- No power

#### FatherMurphy

##### Active Member
I did an outdoor theater for several years similar to what you're describing, except my group would do up to four shows shows over a four to six week period, so the equipment was outdoors for that time period.

What was finally the most bulletproof for portable equipment was an extra hood for the shoebox dimmers we were using, and plastic sleeving over cord connections. The hood was a top, back, and two sides for the dimmer, attached only through the yoke mounts, hung so that the outlets faced down. U-Line makes several sizes of plastic sleeving (intended for heat seaming into custom length bags), and 12" or so slid over a connector pair and taped at the uphill end ONLY provided rain protection for the cables. Taping connectors, or both ends of a sleeve, sounds like a good idea in theory, but in practice, if you make if hard for water to get in, you also make it hard for water to get out. Double taped sleeves would invariably fill with water, and taped connectors would store water inside (both power plugs and DMX lines). Using a longer piece of sleeving and hanging the cable joint over a truss member (upside down U, with connectors at the top) is the most rain tight.

By the end of the summer, the fixtures would invariably be full of dead, fried bugs, and any iron part would be rusty, so thorough cleaning was very necessary. I had a 100 amp single phase service to work with, and ran 24 500w PAR 56s, 8 6x22s, and three or four 500w halogen house lights, plus sound and a few worklights, and never tripped the main. Once we had the sleeving figured out, and the hoods on the dimmers, even constant drizzle wouldn't cause problems during shows (except for audience/actor comfort).

Just as a thought, would your group consider doing the show by torchlight? Used in quantity, citronella oil burning torches are capable of lighting a stage, and helping combat bugs at the same time. You'd be foregoing control and you might have to do more flameproofing, but your power and shock hazard worries would disappear, and your audience would be given a unique experience. Check with the local Fire Marshall well beforehand, and make sure he's ok with the setup.

#### BillESC

##### Well-Known Member
I'd start with an inverter for your car. Not much money for a 2000 or 3000w unit. Now that power is solved you've got plenty of budget left for some ip65 LED fixtures.

#### Kelite

##### Well-Known Member
I'd start with an inverter for your car. Not much money for a 2000 or 3000w unit. Now that power is solved you've got plenty of budget left for some ip65 LED fixtures.

Bill has a very good point here, depending upon how much power is eventually needed. Your choice of lighting determines this factor greatly, as several posters have given examples of LED products with lower wattage needs.

I have a power inverter running from two automotive batteries wired in parallel on a trailer at my rural property. This inverter will provide adequate power for 1 hp water pump, an electric circular saw, pole saw for tree trimming, etc- individually, not all at the same time.

Using lower wattage consuming LED static fixtures, several automotive batteries and an inverter or two- you may have something quite usable and water resistant.

Power Inverters and Solar Inverters for Home and Businesses – The Inverter Store

#### Dionysus

##### Well-Known Member
One of the folk festivals I do uses solar-power for one of their stages, a trailer with a number of solar panels mounted to it with batteries and inverter inside. A really sweet setup, and it can power the stage quite well. I cant recall the arrangement for it, or who it's from but it's pretty cool. It'd definatly power some LEDs, or even some 500w fresnels for a performance.
Perhaps something like that can be arranged?

A bank of batteries, to be otherwise recharged and a sufficient enough inverter and other stuff needed to power standard lighting gear (say fresnels, PARs or what have you) is going to be pricy to put together. But it would be cool. A generator is much more affordable, however noisy. Just put the generator far enough away, with something to block the noise as much as you can. Using LED light will greatly reduce the power you'll need, making your battery-gear to be much more affordable.

I'm currently working on an outdoor theatre project that has nothing but natural lighting, but we are using power for audio and for post-show light. This power we are running from a not-so-near-by building, via a sub-panel (to code of course).

I've also done several outdoor shows with full lighting on portable shoebox dimmers, but these had nearby power we could use. And of course full-scale stage lighting with portable rack dimming, needing much more juice.

#### FatherMurphy

##### Active Member
You might also look into deep-cycle RV/Marine batteries, they're designed a bit more for heavy use between charging opportunities.

Mention was made about taking down fixtures nightly to prevent theft or weather damage - if you plan to do this, keep your focus simple, since you'll be restoring it in daylight each performance.

#### TimMiller

##### Well-Known Member
Trick with most low cost inverters (until you get into the 800+ range) is the produce a modified sine wave. The modified sine wave has it's peaks chopped off so electronic power supplies especially auto switching do not play well.

#### cpf

##### Well-Known Member
Trick with most low cost inverters (until you get into the 800+ range) is the produce a modified sine wave. The modified sine wave has it's peaks chopped off so electronic power supplies especially auto switching do not play well.
Just make sure your inverter produces a "pure" sine wave, lots of Xantrex modules do if I remember correctly.

#### shiben

##### Well-Known Member
You might also look into deep-cycle RV/Marine batteries, they're designed a bit more for heavy use between charging opportunities.

Mention was made about taking down fixtures nightly to prevent theft or weather damage - if you plan to do this, keep your focus simple, since you'll be restoring it in daylight each performance.

In many developing nations, every house has an inverter and a bank of deep cycle Marine batteries (or just car batteries, this is the developing world after all) and those hook up the the mains power. When it cuts off, your house still has enough power to run the fridge, some lights, and depending on how much money has been put into this, the hot water, more lights, and a water pump. It can definately be done, I like the car idea best, and with LED fixtures such that you can put say 10 of them on a circuit, that sounds like a plan to me. One thing to factor cost in is that you will need to get gas for whatever your running, unless its solar pannels but good luck getting enough of those for 1000 bucks... Actually, good luck with batteries for 1000 bucks too, they cost over 100 bucks a pop for good ones.