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Strategy for upgrading theater lighting

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by MohaveScott, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. MohaveScott

    MohaveScott Member

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    Our local high school has a well equipped theater and we are looking to develop a strategy for upgrading some/all of the conventional stage lighting fixtures to LED. The goal is to reduce maintenance and save money on power and lamps. Our budget will most probably require upgrades to be done over a number of years, thus the need for an incremental plan as opposed to a total switch out.

    My fundamental question is what business case others have found when they have switched to LED fixtures? Also I'm wondering if it makes sense to keep the current lights and invest in a few moving spots or washes that could add new lighting design options?

    The current system is based on a large configuration Strand dimmer rack (140 channels in an SD80?) and a Strand 200 console.

    We currently have the following lights:

    30 Altman Par 64s, 4 165Q Altman fresnels, 30+ Strand SL 23/50 Ellipsoidals & 5 Altman Scoops

    Thanks for any thoughts.

    Scott
     
  2. MohaveScott

    MohaveScott Member

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    sorry I believe the dimmer rack is a Strand CD80.
     
  3. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Ok equipped in later 80's concept of not needing Leko's now that we have PAR 64 fixture. Check your boneyard for the fixtures removed and replaced in the last upgrade so as to see if you can save some money in bringing them back up stairs with some work and modern lamps. This for a start.

    Par Cans making up half your directed light as similar to Leko - but not is specifically a problem. But keep that concept a secret to those bidding out during the process. Are you a student or helping the staff? Need to know this in how much direct contact you verses the principal or teacher has with the retailer. Only the principal or drama teacher will be able to ask further questions one could provide in upgrading to LED and dimmers/control booth need.

    Challenge is getting sold something, and possibly it's all that is needed but won't be sufficient to your program - but perhaps might have control available for the future. Working within a budget to get you good lighting to design around and perhaps getting some LED goal. And many other concepts to work with in your situation.
     
    JimOC_1 likes this.
  4. MohaveScott

    MohaveScott Member

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    ship I am retired and help the school staff research issues related to their sound and lighting systems. The last upgrade was 12 years ago and there aren't any leftovers. I have only been in this city for 2 years so I don't have detailed knowledge of the history.
     
  5. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    Your instinct to add some movers and perhaps to upgrade cyc lighting to LED makes sense. You have the distribution, good dimmers, and some basic instruments. Time and time again it's been shown electrical savings from converting stage lighting yo LED are insignificant. You will need a new console to satisfactorily control movers and LED.

    Probably retrofitting dimmer electronics and either adding some relay controlled circuits or buying relay modules for existing is necessary. And adding data distribution.

    You can probably do most of the simple upgrade for $50-100k. A wholesale conversion for similar function is probably in the $300-400k range. Both can be spread out but that's simpler with upgrade approach.
     
  6. MohaveScott

    MohaveScott Member

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    Thanks for the perspective Bill. The amount of power consumed by the dimmer racks and the related heat and noise, made me initially leap to the 'replace it all' perspective. However, after some initial research and watching them use the theater during different times of the school day and for different productions, it seemed that they might be just as well served by:

    1. Adding some LED fixtures that provide new 'looks' instead of just replacing the older lights with similar LED fixtures
    2. Updating their light control board to be easier to use and more powerful scene storage capabilities
    3. Getting a set of LED fixtures to create a bright but low power 'work lighting' or 'general purpose' scene set for non-theatrical use of the stage. (Often I come into the room and they will have 30 or more lights burning on an empty stage....)
    4. Buy some moving LED lights (wash, spot, etc.) to speed up the lighting design process. The current lights over the stage are on 3 trusses dropped by hoists. They spend a fair amount of time dropping the truss, aiming lights, raising it, evaluating the beam positions, then doing it all again. Obviously they can't re-aim the lights or change the colors during the performance, all of which would be possible with a few moving head LED fixtures.

    This journey is just starting and I have a lot to learn. The sad thing is I know more now (which isn't much) than they do so the real challenge is how to get them a training plan that will persist through changes in staff and students.
     
  7. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    House lights, work lights, and cyc lights - in that order - for led replacement. Imho.
     
    MohaveScott likes this.
  8. JohnD

    JohnD Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    A few thoughts, first off, we really like pictures here, of the space and the existing equipment. It seems you have a surplus of dimmer circuits, since you seem to only be using half of them. As far as the CD80 rack, take a look at this thread for some good advice:
    https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/strand-cd80-rack.35798/#post-310640
    That brings me to the question, is your CD80 amx or dmx. If it is already dmx you're good to go, in not, see the above listed thread.
    Take a look at the posts by @sdauditorium , especially this one:
    https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/led-conversion-upcoming.43179/
    As far as work lights, take a look at the Osram Kreios flx 90, it's a great worklight and it can be plugged into a dimmed circuit unlike most LED fixtures. However, it doesn't dim down smoothly to zero so not good for use during a show.
     
  9. MohaveScott

    MohaveScott Member

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    JohnD likes this.
  10. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    Nearly current product. Shouldn't need to retrofit electronics.

    If things are not working, you need a technician, but it shouldn't be bad.

    Your fixture inventory is a little anemic is all. And a modern console. They advertise a "power through" module for that rack. (How original.) Get some for easiest way to power LED. And build inventory: S4, led cyc, and maybe a few movers. Over time build up led wash units.
     
    MohaveScott likes this.
  11. EdSavoie

    EdSavoie Well-Known Member

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    I was going to make a comment on the exact model of CD-80 determining if you needed an electronics retrofit to buy non-dim relay modules, but I see you've updated the information in that it is not a CD-80.
     
  12. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    Bill:
    > Time and time again it's been shown electrical savings from converting stage lighting to LED are insignificant.

    Huh?
     
  13. sdauditorium

    sdauditorium Active Member

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    I'm inferring that to mean he's referring to the oft-quoted 10-15 year payback to recoup the cost of fixture expenditures by going to LED?
     
  14. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    There have been a couple of published studies on "greening" theaters. Many of us involved in planning facilities have done our own site specific calculations. Cost of power = power * length of time in use

    In short there just aren't enough hours of use of stage lighting.
     
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  15. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    I'd have to search but the most definitive study was I think at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the energy used for stage lighting was like a couple of percent of the energy used for the building. It did not make any sense on any basis to focus on converting the theatre lighting to LED for energy savings - would never pay back.
     
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  16. josh88

    josh88 Remarkably Tired. Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    There have been a bunch of studies that show the reduced power usage doesn't really result in much savings, even after you include hvac/gel/and lamps the total hours of use generally don't result in anything worth citing as a reason to make the change.
     
  17. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    10-15 years is maybe for general lighting, like a school or office building, not stage and studio lighting. That's why house lights and work lights first - time on - then cyc - but that's almost more about gel and lamp replacement - and lamp replacement is a primary reason for changing to LED.
     
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  18. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Seattle Rep study showed that the theatrical lighting accounted for 2% of the total building load in a year. That essentially meant no payback for energy savings in moving to stage lighting LED’s, short term and likely for the life of the fixture.

    Savings in labor and expendables might be significant, and as others have stated, you then look at where your labor costs go for lamp and color changing. House lamps, if they get used as work lighting, but an option to just install LED work lamps is suggested, then use incandescent house lamps for maybe 2 hrs. per performance and rehearsal only. Cyc also a good choice as the incandescents are typically wattage and color media hogs.

    Then be thinking about adding capability for design options. LED and some movers for this, but likely and foremost is a control upgrade that allows easy use of these fixtures. Then fixtures with an eye back at labor and expendables to be locating fixtures in places where they are difficult to reach and where fewer color and position changing fixtures can do the jobs of multiple incandescents.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
    RonHebbard likes this.
  19. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    A Texas school, sorry memory fails, did a study as well.
     
  20. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    @STEVETERRY has told the story of an energy usage study by Consolidated Edison when a large NYC company changed from 1000W Lekos to 575W SourceFours in the 1990s. I'll leave it to him to provide the punchline.
    .
     

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