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Conventional Fixtures the cost of lamping fixtures; or long-life lamps vs. high-output lamps

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by church, Oct 9, 2008.

  1. church

    church Active Member

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    Earlier this week I had a discussion with two other rental company owners and the President of a theatre production company that owns five small theatres and successfully produces their own shows. The topic was the merits of using long life lamps or the high output lamps. Many times on Controlbooth I read links on the light output from different fixtures etc. I will not repeat these discussions. However my operation is small rental house and is not my primary source of income whereas for the others it is their only source of income. I normally lamp my fixtures with HPL575 or GLCs and also the BTH575 because I like the light output and quality. All the others are now using HPL575X, GLA and are staying with BTL because of lamp life.

    Here it is if they lamp the same as me then their lamp costs increase by a factor of 5, they changed to the long life lamps and the customers did not notice any change in light output.

    Before everyone tells me you can get the lamps cheaper - we are not buying lamps in small quantities between the four of us we spent $68k in the last year and we are not paying the same price as the average user. In fact we supplly the average users with lamps in this area. In the last year my three colleagues have switched to the long life versions except me as I have a number of cases of lamps to work through but I shall probably follow the same route.

    The high output (short life lamps) are only used for special applications.

    Here is my question is this the experience of other rental company owners and users in other parts of North America?
     
  2. SerraAva

    SerraAva Active Member

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    In my area, whenever a piece of gear is rented, it is always long life version of whatever lamp it uses. You can request the high output versions however.

    In my own experiences, I use long life, namely HPL750X. The 750w lamp puts out roughly the same amount of light as a standard life HPL575, 16400 lumen vs 16520. In power tight situations, I generally then use standard HPL575s, because they put out the same amount of light I am use to seeing with HPL750Xs. Also, I can then mix and match between 750Xs and 575s with out fear of one being much brighter then the other.

    As you also stated church, if I run into a situation where 750Xs aren't enough, I can then go up to 750 standards, namely when I am using lekos as spot lights. You also hit the nail on the head that it costs 5x as much money to run standards over regulars. If you on average used your lights for about 6 hours a day, you are replacing all your lamps once a year for long life at 1500 hours. So let's say you have 100 fixtures, that's 2 grand a year in lamps at 20 bucks a lamp. 10 grand a year for standard. I can think of a lot of toys to buy with an extra 8 grand a year, like more fixtures for example.
     
  3. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    As a renter not a rental company, I usually assume that unless otherwise specified they're coming with long life lamps. This assumption comes from me thinking that the rental house wants to change lamps less often ie less labor and less lamp ordering.
     
  4. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    We lamp with the long life version.
     
  5. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    There is an important factor missing in your discussions, namely the cost of power wasted, I think you will find that cost is greater than your lamp-life costs.Unless your power is much cheaper than ours.
     
  6. church

    church Active Member

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    your point is correct however as a rental company supplying the lamps we are not paying for the power costs - just the lamp costs. Also the extra 175W of power consumed by the HPL750X lamp at the rates we pay in Canada for hydro is still cheaper than cost of buying the extra lamps if you use the HPL575 lamp.

    What is interesting about this is the many debates on this Board re light output from fixtures and the merits of different lamps. There is a subtlety in the use of the lamps and fixtures that we have not openly discussed.

    One of the merits, as discussed above, of the S4 is that with the 750W version is that it gives us options on lamping using the different 575W and 750W lamps to achievelight output v consumable costs that don't exist with other fixtures.

    To illustrate, I use GLAs in my non S4 fixtures except where I really need output at which point I will lamp the fixture with a GLC but there is no way increase the light output beyond this because I get more light from these fixtures with a GLC than a FEL lamp. This may change if I can ever obtain the SPH575 lamp. If this happens then I should have a higher light output option. Therefore my options with a non S4 fixture are less than a S4 fixture with a 750W lamp cap. Having said that I have no plans to ditch my non S4 fixtures as they still give good performance using the modern lamps but I would never lamp them with an FEL or EHD lamp.

    I think we all agree that when you own the fixtures and pay for the lamps going into them it gives you a very different perspective on this topic than if you use someone else's fixtures.
     
  7. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    The attached table shows all available incandescent lamps for an ETC SourceFour® 26°. By your logic, [user]allthingstheatre[/user], everyone should be using DimmerDoublers and the standard 77V lamp (Oh wait, you can't. It's only available for 120V systems.:twisted:) Not to start the 110 vs. 220 argument again, but you guys really get hosed in terms of efficiency with the long-life lamps, don't you?

    Currently in Las Vegas as a residential customer, I pay ~USD 0.113 (AUD 0.172) per KWH. Due to scale, hotels/casinos pay significantly less.

    I'm all for a lighting shop making a fair profit, but I would feel "cheated" if rental ETC fixtures came with anything other than HPL750/115 or HPL575/115 lamps. That's standard in this town in my industry, which admittedly, is not theatre, and, also admittedly, the cost of lamps or power are not major factors. On the other hand, the cost of labor for relamping IS a major factor. In the rental industry, I suspect lamp life will be shorter due to mishandling/frequent-handling than a long-running production. Perhaps [user]ruinexplorer[/user], VegasLites, [user]Icewolf08[/user], or [user]Sean[/user], et al. could speak to this. Most of my rentals are one week in duration and 5-10% spare lamps are included. Often we'll need to change a failed lamp during initial testing and seldom after that.

    My 2¢.
     

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  8. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    We don't actually do a lot of rentals as our theatre maintains a sizable inventory. However, I do lamp all of our Source Fours with high output lamps. Even without a side-by-side comparison I can see the difference in color temperature, and the long life lamps a significantly warmer. Our guest designers expect to see the intensity and color temp of the high output lamps when they come, so that is what I give them.

    While one might argue that it is more cost effective to use the long life lamps it isn't always practical. Consider that the HPL575/115 (which is what I use primarily) rings in at 3250K and 16520 lumens. If I want a long life lamp that is close to the same light output I have to go to the HPL750/115X at 3050K and 16400 lumens. So, in moving to long life I end up with less output, higher power consumption, and warmer color temp. Adding all of that up totally negates the cost savings on the lamp (in my opinion).
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2008
  9. Sean

    Sean Active Member

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    OK, so.....

    I'd be pretty pissed if a rental showed up with long-life lamps. Do you also buy B-size templates "'cause we already had some"?

    The reality is that we as an industry are always trying to eek out those last 10 lumens, get the automation to (safely) run the cue 5 seconds faster, etc. As much as we like to think it, we are not a "green" industry. We as a group regularly choose more expensive, less renewable products because of the real (or perceived) advantages in cost or performance. This situation is a case of the latter.

    The fixtures are built around the 300 hour lamps. Yes, you can get the lamp to last longer if it runs "cooler".....or you could dim it down. But the color temp isn't going to be there, the intensity isn't going to be there. It would be cheaper to use older lights too.

    I would expect rental gear to come with functional 300 hour lamps. There would be some angry phone calls if I turned on the rental gear and it didn't match the house gear. I have not noticed a shortened lamp life in rental gear. Honestly, we spend more time replacing lamps in work lights than any other unit. We use S4 pars as works, so we just grab them from the pile of units. However, they end up on for hours at a time, so the "regular" HPL's burn out quite quickly (we do try to run our works at ~85%) We have started using 120v HPL's in the handful of units that are always work lights. All our other units have 115v lamps.

    Our inventory is all 575w. I've made the decision to NOT use 750w lamps as a matter of course (though we do stock some for use when needed). We do large shows, often with positions that are very difficult to reach. 750w lamps burn through so much more gel, and mixing them into the inventory would make for quite a confusing situation. So, they're for "when we need them".

    OK, so I really shouldn't be posting at 6AM. Maybe I'll go back to bed.

    --Sean
     
  10. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    Now let's settle down here little pitbull, I said that the factor of wasted power needed to be considered, I'd hardly class that as starting an argument.
     
  11. VegasLites

    VegasLites Member

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    I thought I would put in my 2 cents... I believe the juice just isn't worth the squeeze.
    I run a permanent installation here in Las Vegas, and have been the head on 3 others in town. None of these shows are currently using the X version of the lamps. Why not when we have 600 S4 lekos? Mostly because designers do not like it, and spec a 575 or 750 traditional lamp. The color temperature is just not the same and the lumen output is lower. We would have had to start out with the rig being lamped this way since color choice is affected by the color temp differences.
    From an operations stand point it might seem to make financial sense but in truth we do not change the lamps but maybe once a year and they cost the same. There is no way I could justify the man hours to do this to an operations production budget. I also would never change out all my leko lamps at once..unless I wanted them to all blow out together.
    If I rent a fixture which I rarely do in my current job, but did a lot back in the day, I would be unhappy if it had the long life lamp in it and I wasn't told. In fact I often will specifically tag the lamp type with the fixture in the paperwork to insure I was getting what I want.
     
  12. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I agree with Alex. We don't use the X version (except for our lobby) for the same reasons. We don't rent our gear out of our space, but we do have some special events apart from our regular show, and of course they will use the V lamps to blend in with the rest of the rig.

    When I was LD of an in-house AV company, I did use the X lamps for long life. I had a more limited budget and most of my rigs were using so few lights that I didn't have to worry about mixing in rentals (they were usually in completely separate space when I was). At that point, I used 750's on a limited basis, usually for gobos (P&D sucks up the light, but the client always seemed to want their logo on it). In retrospect, if I had the authority, I would have purchased the V lamps since their color temperature is better for video, and I would have had to use less color correction in my plots.
     
  13. church

    church Active Member

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    As I said I presently use GLC and HPL575 lamps but all of my peers use the GLA and HPL575X and we all charge the same rates. A S4 rents for $7 to $9 per day and I know other locations rent for more s maybe that explains the reluctance to lamp at the high output. Does this vary region to region?
     
  14. mbandgeek

    mbandgeek Active Member

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    Long life lamps are like rolls of long life toilet paper... take that metaphor however you want, but when i first thought of that, long life lamps do the job for a long time, but they do not have as good color temp wise as the regulars.
     
  15. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Oddly enough, I can say that for the few rentals I do - which will probably be none this year, I payed no attention to what lamp the shop was using.

    Why ?. Mostly as I knew that the rental stuff was 1) Almost always side dance towers being used as side lighting, thus the system was particular and it wasn't as much a concern to match the rest of the rep inventory, or 2) I'm getting a couple of particular specials which don"t need to match (usually) anything in the rep. inventory - it's a special.

    In general, I expect that visiting LD's get used to seeing their design modified house to house, S4's in most halls - with a variety of long life or hi-output lamps, or then see Shakespeares, or 360Q's, thus have to get proficient at explaining to the artistic director why it looks different. Thus I have NEVER been what kind of lamps I use. It's generally the least of the visiting LD's problems.

    As side note. Very little of what I do runs more then a weekend, if that helps explain a particular attitude.

    Steve B.
     
  16. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Since the Pageant's LD really doesn't care that much about color temperature, I use the long life version of the HPL lamps. That said, I actually do quite a bit of color correcting trying to match several different fixtures to the color temperature of a GE Reveal incandescent light bulb. My source 4's, however, are not among those fixtures as they are used to light different pieces.
     
  17. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Where possible I try to go with or recommend the long life lamps. In my own case when given the choice for a new beam projector using either a GLD, GLE or #6981P lamp, I went with and had no objections to the GLE long life lamp. When providing the 2K studio Fresnel choice of me going to the Thorn HX-2400 CYX lamp, nobody as yet has complained about the common grade CYX lamp. In knowing about a higher color temperature Mac 2K lamp - a fixture type numbering in the mid 260's or more, no designers as yet requested the brighter 7.5K lamp yet so there was no reason to go with it over the 6K lamp. Nobody’s requested the 7.5K lamps in general other than for the Mac 700. Not even a 150w G-12 based fixture.

    This intensity and color temperature on stage is subjective not objective. Sure, there is cases where bang for the buck becomes important but in an overall sense did Tipton or even Jones make magik with a dark dim stage or in general make magic with their art no matter what illumination level even before halogen was available?

    I would think that designers want all the intensity they can get as a general “more power” type of concept. On the other hand, if faced with a dark room and a single candle, it’s incredibly bright, yet faced in a bright room with a candle it’s very dim. All a question of atmosphere in general.

    A theater I was raised at for the most part went from EHD/EHG to HX-600 than GLA without problems. Don’t know what they use in their S-4 fixtures but those fixtures are in a separate class for them at least in using the S-4 for some stuff and the 360Q’s for other. Didn’t adopt the BLH yet either in having a separate class for such fixtures also.

    How to switch over to what I think the other theaters in general are correct in buying. First is the customer wants and needs as a question. Do the customers note how much brighter your fixtures are than the other local places as a selling point? Very important question beyond clean lenses and bench focus.

    Do the customers in getting this higher intensity 1/5 the lamp life lamps for their shows pay extra for getting them?

    If not = and high output lamps have a very specific pay back for those that can afford them, still if not a specific payback it’s not economical. Perhaps economically.

    Now the next question is the feasibility of changing in or making a all one change in your inventory towards the more long life lamps and seeing if anyone notices. Is it feasible to re-lamp the entire Leko inventory to long life lamps? If given that change over during a dark period does the next few designers really note the difference given they dim and or work from a dark stage for the most part than light it? Can they tell the difference in color temperature and luminous output overall? Once the night eyes see in the dark, light on stage is all a question of what intensity and levels are present. Often one might expect a designer the prime mover for supporting your high output lamps wont note the difference. This plus a few $$$ in changing the rental cost might over rule the designer if it comes down to that given other local area options for the same types of lamps.

    Energy efficient more so. A bit less output and color temperature yet I would be interested in a designer noting the difference often or mostly once an overall switch of all not just a few fixtures was achieved.

    Other wise should you want to start smaller this change over, one might leave the front of house positions the same and change those on or over the stage with a shorter throw range. More risky but a way to change less than all option perhaps.


    68K is not that bad in buys and with given a group you represent which is a really good buying power in maximizing savings get you at least a discount factor or two, I’m up to the about 300K range now but in a different market also but still in the same concepts of both economics and what the designers require to light their stage. Still much the same and fighting inflation concepts also. Years ago for the venerable 50 hr. Trackspot lamp some users went with the EYE brand JC24v250w-20H/G2 2,000hr lamp. They lost some in output as a given any time you trade wattage and voltage that stayed the same for something as with any lamp no matter how much more efficient for the most part, but still the club owners that neither had to pay people to climb the ladder or replace the lamps never turned back in my own resale noting. Did those clubs suffer... perhaps a bit, but not enough to be noticed in continued sales. Way too bad the pinspot #4515 in also going halogen didn’t go long life instead of only marginally higher output since it’s the next most used club lamp.

    Still I would recommend a looking at your own market in seeing why your venu makes its sales in consideration first in such a long life consideration. Is a part of why it does what it does because of the brighter lights or do you for the most part balance sales with the other places in your market that are long life? In my case and other than a few conditions, switching to long life is a no sale unfortunately and in a past show that required long life lamps and paid special for them, it caused pandemonium in our system. Not that I didn’t have the long life lamps in stock for resale which this became for me in lamps, more that should these lamps get stuck after the show into our system we would have a bug hunt in weeding them out - another situation to solve in any change over or switches.

    Philips GLA lamps and I’m told in a re-design now on the market Osram GLA lamps on the other hand should be a easier switch. Just a question of the HPL lamps playing nice with the high output verses long life versions for the most part. Can but thinking if doing a change, you would want to change all and save and mark perhaps the if needed high output lamps for say gobos you don’t get a problem in mis match where you would tell the difference. In doing such a switch, remove blocks of them and budget for perhaps that lifetime supply of “special” fixture lamps that need to be brighter.


    This all for a house situation. For rental stock.. Depends on your scale. The standard for the industry is still high output lamps. Believe me if my wife gets in a bunch of rental fixtures to prep for a show and she gets long life lamps she would go thru the roof in all other fixtures for a standard rental being high output and her now in addition to having to prep - do a service call to a rental fixture, have to also change lamps to our own lamps, she would blow her top.

    If rental house and if especially renting to others that are supplementing their inventory one needs to ask on that rental which lamps to be supplying and perhaps gauge rental price on the lamps in many ways. Rental Production level fixtures are in my opinion still stuck on the high output lamps. This on the pro level - a rock tour to your area needs fixtures, its expected it will be high output. Sure one could do the long life and without telling them even get away with it is likely, but get caught once or not match up with what is already on the tour and you supplement, or what you are supplementing another place with and you most likely will loose an account over.

    For most rental stock, high output is a standard and needs to be on the contract otherwise if not. Gotta run with the standards to the industry if rental company. This no matter if lesser color temperature Mac 2K lamps if that's what is expected, instead of the higher color temperature ones, or down to the S-4, the high output one if that's also expected and not on the contract as long life instead.

    Figure out cost savings, put that discount on the contract in announcing it if change over is in plan. Good idea but depends on scale and use. Really hard to make the change. Congrats on the BTH lamp - A Control Booth idea in the industry. Unfortunately the same person that put that lamp under way in the industry also told me in the last week or so that the HPR lamp is TBA discontinued. That lamp was his concept and one I'm a fan of but didn't take off. Hopefully at least the BTH will take off while doubtful the BTH will have a long life version given what such a lamp would be in similarity to the BTL. Such a high color temp. and output lamp would become in similarity to matching up to the GLA or HPL on the other hand is really useful for the Fresnels short of requiring the PARNel. Fascinating the business of lamps. Always options out there or at least at one time or another an option.
     
  18. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    This all said for me the HPL / GLA lamp types are a minor part of my buys and they are for the most part 750w these days. Was surprised when during a major tour that’s using the million or less watt strobe Hunguro Flashes, they opted for the 575w versions of the 12 light audience blinders instead of lamping them 750w.

    And also dependant on exchange rates and the Fast Fit lamp market in Philips verses Osram it will become un-accounted for in this past year buys more like $400K and next year more like much more all a question of that lamp test given I already bought most of my otherwise mover lamp buys in locking down last year’s lamp pricing. HPL type lamps... at this point and I cannot imagine that in a past world of theater.... I no longer track what I buy per year in them, just below the radar.

    Still though if specked as 575 or 750 for a show, it had at best be high output at least in our market. But that’s not to say that your market doesn’t expect or deal with long life lamps for rental, or that in a show a designer (most designers) would given no other high output lamps and fixtures on the production have high output can tell the difference in loss in output. Long life lamps if bench focused and in clean instruments will still have an incredible output, it’s more a observation of what one has to compare with. Standard is high output but if in your market its possible you are wasting money. Possible if not persay national in rental and or what you find your market is used to in implying.

    In the end still a question of the rental you rent to. Of those in your market are they expexting what the others provide and think if they notice it - bonus, or are you in a different market in them expecting the more norm for rental high output lamp? How are the others also doing in getting these contracts assuming it would be noticed?

    For the most part if not mixing lamps and fixtures on stage I would assume long life is the best option. Otherwise two pay rates for the lamp choices would be good. Otherwise if expecting what is the norm, its high output still.
     

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