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Outdoor Stage Lighting

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by tweetersaway, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. tweetersaway

    tweetersaway Member

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    Hi all. This summer, I'm running all tech for a show of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare : Abridged. We're doing the show in an outdoor venue that was built last summer. They have two 20 amp circuits, one on each of two telephone poles with rigging pipes on them. Currently, they run 4 1000w Par 64's for one general wash. My current job is to try and find a system(pretty low budget) that will get at least 4 dimmers up there, preferably 8(4 on each pole), then a few more par lights to go along with it.

    So, I guess my question is, are any of you familiar with satellite dimmer packs that are meant for outdoor use? If not, would it be wise to put satellite packs in a weatherproof case? They'd be up there most of the summer, but they'd be down for winter. Any ideas/suggestions?

    Thanks!
     
  2. jrdeamicis

    jrdeamicis Member

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    Sadly weatherproof and cheap never really go hand in hand.........

    I think finding a waterproof case and putting the dimmer in it would be the best best.

    Keep your tails off the ground.

    Some elation lunch box dimmers are cheap. There are many options. A budget would be helpful.

    McMaster-Carr will be your friend for making stuff work together if you are doing it your self.
     
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    You have a bigger issue, before you can add more lights, you need to get more power. Two 20 amp circuits can run 4 1k pars, thats it. If you add in dimmers, most dimmers you get that are "cheap" have a 600w max per circ. Now, if you lamped everything to 500w lamps, then you could add more fixtures but your output would change. Also, the lamps would cost you.
     
  4. tweetersaway

    tweetersaway Member

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    They never gave me a set budget. Basically they said to set up a 'reasonable' package and they'll try to get it to fly. My guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000. 2000 max. I actually was looking at some elation dimmer packs with some type of weatherproof box. Maybe even an elation board. I guess I'll keep hunting and calling places and I'll figure out something. Thanks for the link, it looks pretty helpful.

    Footer: I was planning bumping them down to 500w each, and adding a few more 500 watt fixtures. I know they could handle the stage size and it would offer simply better control of the lights and color.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2008
  5. jrdeamicis

    jrdeamicis Member

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    Having double 20a circuits would let you run a 6x1.2 Leprechaun dimmer. Really nice stuff for the price.
     
  6. zapthatmonster

    zapthatmonster Member

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    Depending on the time of the day, a simple wash could do it if you get in a pinch - hell, I've seen that production run with no tech at all.
     
  7. SHARYNF

    SHARYNF Well-Known Member

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    you will need to make sure that what ever weather proof box system you use it will disapate the heat generated from the packs. Depending on the budget you MIGHT be able to use LED pars, this would eliminate the need for dimmers, individually would not generat the same level of illumination, but depending on how you gel your pars, possibly for the cost of the dimmer packs and not getting new lamps and not adding new traditional pars you could get 12 or so led pars which might be something to think about
    Sharyn
     
  8. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    Dumb question, but are you running shows during the day or at night?

    If your running shows at night, you can get away with using lower wattage fixtures, or even LEDs. Not gonna happen if your doing day shows though.
     
  9. STEVETERRY

    STEVETERRY Well-Known Member

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    This question opens a fairly large can of worms, and one that likely requires a licensed electrician to unwind:

    1. I am not aware of any distributed weatherproof or Wet Location listed dimmers. If you put a NEMA1 indoor dimmer in a weatherproof box, you will likely violate its listing, and it will likely not be able to cool properly.

    2. You're in a wet location. When it rains, your fixtures will get wet. Are you going to use fixtures listed for wet locations?

    3. Because of the wet location, if your fixtures are cord-connected via outlets, you need GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) protection on those outlets. The gotcha is that you cannot just put a GFCI on the output of a dimmer. You either need to use a GFCI dimmer (ETC makes one, but not in a portable pack--only in a permanent install rack) or use an outboard Dimmer GFCI. Leviton makes one and you can get it in a nice package from Lex Products.


    A better solution than the distributed dimmers might be to intercept those circuits at their source and have an electrician install a small intercept panel that would allow you to plug them in to a dimmer pack in a dry location. You could actually get the intercept panel to include the Dimmer GFCI's.


    Bottom line--there is probably no simple and cheap way to solve this issue in a safe and Code-compliant way.



    ST
     
  10. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Couple of footnotes: (btw, I hate outdoor situations!)

    1) The Elation 4 packs spec 10 amps per channel. 1000 watts, right? Well, they use 15 amp triacs, so at 1k they sometimes go bye bye. The pack has a max total rating of 2.4k, and is best thought of as a 600 watt per channel dimmer. Four 500 watt pars would be fine.

    2) How active are thunderstorms in your area? Equipment does not have to be struck by lightning to be damaged. In fact, you don't even need a surge! Secondary EMP can induce pretty strong voltages in equipment if there is a nearby hit. (I once had to service 6 video recorders that were new and still in the box, but lightning had struck near the back wall of the warehouse.)

    3) As Steve says, a watertight enclosure would block ventilation as well. Centralized dimmers would be better. Just be aware of the lightning issue as the dimmers could get damaged by surges generated and back fed into their outputs which is something you would not usually think about on an indoor dimmer system. Best policy would be to leave the outputs disconnected when not in use as we are not talking about a lot of channels.

    4) If the poles are wood, then have them "rodded" (Air terminal, #2 ground and ground stake.)
     
  11. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I think that Steve Terry really hit this one on the head. Whatever you do it has to be done safely and correctly. We all love to cobble systems together and make things work, but when you are dealing with electricity and outdoors and audiences, and all that jazz, there is no room for error.

    Portable dimmers are great for when you need an extra or for DJs or events. But in situations like that they are not exposed to harsh environments. As has been said, setting up to use them safely outdoors will most likely cost more than you really want to spend on the project. If your theatre has come to the point where they feel what they have is not adequate for what they want to be able to do then it is time to call a local dealer or consultant and pt together a real system. If that can't happen and you still want to go ahead with the small project you should at least enlist a certified electrician who can make sure that everything gets installed safely.
     
    STEVETERRY likes this.
  12. mbandgeek

    mbandgeek Active Member

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    um, this is not a cheap idea either, and i am not even sure if this would work or be practical. Would it be possible to create a Dimmer Shed? Just a small structure on a small footprint. Maybe 10'x 10'x10'

    After the shed is constructed keeping Dimmers, Amplifiers, and any other unused equipment in.
     
  13. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I kinda gotta go with Mbandgeek here. Typically your porduction rock n roll at an outdoor venue has dimmer beach upstage right under the tarp covering the stage. I have to say there are dozens of ways you could solve your problem but with out having a view of the layout of the venue, there is no good way for me to say, " Do it this way." Fist and foremost, however, I don't think sattelite packs would be the best solution, too many hazards / headaches for an out side venue, Not really meant for the weather. Why don't the architects think of these things when they're building outdoor venues?
     
  14. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    here is an idea, run the cables from your lamps down to the bottom of the pole and just place your dimmer rack in every night and take it out and the end of the day.
     
  15. tweetersaway

    tweetersaway Member

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    Thanks for all the help. The more I think about it, the more I realize that you're all right about needing permanent dimmers in a shed of some sort with the cables run to the poles. I'm going to try and throw that pitch at the people who control the money. We really do need to get a pro in there to do it. Until that happens, or at least for this show, we'll probably try Pie4Weebl's approach because it's easy, simple, and safe for something temporary.
     
  16. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Just remember to have some Rain Protocol, for LX. Like, if it rains: 1. Go to blackout. 2. Go to wherever your power is coming from, and disconnect. 2. Cover the board/put it in its case. 3. Cover and remove dimmers.
     

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