What is the practical lifetime of LED theatre lights

David Ashton

Well-Known Member
Could anyone tell me the practical working lifetime of
Cheap Led theatre luminaires
Mid market Luminaires
Professional grade luminaires
Considering availability of parts and general degradation, in other words over what time frame should they be depreciated?
 

MNicolai

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Cheap -- 1-3 years, depending on usage and application. They might start to look crappy after prolonged usage but may still serve marginal some useful purpose as running lights, effects lighting, etc.
Mid market -- 3-6 years
Professional -- 6-8 years -- as you get into that 6-8 year mark, you may drop a few fixtures to power supply failures, need some repairs, or have to cycle them out with newer fixtures.

The closer you get to Professional, the better opportunity you have to use them in the long term. Fixtures that you may originally purchase for front lights may degrade or a newer fixture may hit the market that is twice as bright -- in which case you can cycle those fixtures out to side, back, or effects lighting, and purchase new front lights.

When the cheap fixtures die, they are sacrificial and not worth the cost to repair. When the expensive/pro fixtures die or degrade, there is usually still a way to keep them useful or repair them.

A major factor to consider right now though is that every 3-5 years we're seeing a newer/brighter/cheaper pro-level fixture. The higher grade fixtures are likely to encounter technical obsolescence before they completely die on you.

This is all subject to application though. If it's a lightly used space, the fixtures will last longer as the LED's will burn less. If it's a professional theater that's in use 300+ days of the year, then fixtures will wear down faster.
 

cbrandt

Well-Known Member
A professional fixture will (almost) last as long as you're willing to take care of it. I have some fixtures that are still lighting my office space that are 12 years old, and still going strong. We removed them from rental inventory because they've been replaced by newer generation fixtures, but they're still great.

I would heavily recommend that you invest time and training now in how to do basic repairs on LED fixtures. Failures usually boil down to a few problem parts, and with a decent stock of them you can keep fixtures running for a very long time.

As @MNicolai has said, they are going to run into problems after a certain period of time (and his timelines are spot on!). But you'd plan maintenance for your conventional fixtures and dimmers also.
 

JohnD

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Also from the early days of buying fixtures, consider that for the "really cheap" fixtures the advice was to buy more than you needed because if you later ordered more they likely would not have matching colors.
 

SteveB

Well-Known Member
We purchased some cheap Amazon LED flood lights as work light, $44 a pair for a 300w Altman equiv., They've lasted maybe 2 years of 12 hr per day operation, have seen arrrays fail. They are not nearly as nice as our OSRAM Kreios fixtures, not as bright, but that's a $300 fixture. I'm can buy 14 Ustellars for the price of a Kreios and swap them out readily. We've zero maintenance experience with the many Lustrs, Desires, ColorSource and ChromaQ gear, no failures in 3 years
 

cbrandt

Well-Known Member
We have a big rental stock of various LEDs. They do die from time to time. They aren't terribly friendly for user serviceability. It isn't like changing a lamp or a connector. BUT.....it is a skill that most venues need to begin cultivating, or establish good relationships with repair centers for that equipment. Things will always break down, and we can't count on what we learned in stagecraft 101 in college to get us through most of those repairs anymore.
 

Footer

Senior Team
Senior Team
Premium Member
If the pro fixtures don't last 10 years we're going to have some very upset people. FWIW I've had 6 colorforce 72 bars in the air, powered on 24/7/365 for going on 6 years, and have yet to have to do a single thing to them. I expect a comparable ETC LED fixture to do the same.

Its one of the things when discussing LED fixtures and things like automated rigging that needs to be discussed. My venue is running on 1970's dimmers and half our lighting fixtures are from the 80's (strand century 22xx). Its a hard cost accounting problem to deal with. Lights now need to be viewed more like PA where after 10 years it simply has to all be swapped out. Used to be you spent the money on a dimming system that could stay with a building for decades with little maintence... now spend less upfront but way more long term. Its a good tradeoff because what you can do with LED is huge. Not to mention hvac, distribution, gel, lamps, etc.... but... bean counters won't like the "we need a million dollars of fixtures every 10 years".

I also think we are reaching peak brightness that is usable with LED fixtures. Ya, they can get brighter... but they really don't need to get brighter. Even the 1,000 bucks chauvet LED fixtures are stupid bright and brighter then any conventional they would replace. So, hopefully that starts driving down the cost. We're no longer at the point where going LED has any sacrifices. I don't think you need to plan for obsolesces like you did 5-10 years ago.
 

cbrandt

Well-Known Member
If the pro fixtures don't last 10 years we're going to have some very upset people. FWIW I've had 6 colorforce 72 bars in the air, powered on 24/7/365 for going on 6 years, and have yet to have to do a single thing to them. I expect a comparable ETC LED fixture to do the same.

Its one of the things when discussing LED fixtures and things like automated rigging that needs to be discussed. My venue is running on 1970's dimmers and half our lighting fixtures are from the 80's (strand century 22xx). Its a hard cost accounting problem to deal with. Lights now need to be viewed more like PA where after 10 years it simply has to all be swapped out. Used to be you spent the money on a dimming system that could stay with a building for decades with little maintence... now spend less upfront but way more long term. Its a good tradeoff because what you can do with LED is huge. Not to mention hvac, distribution, gel, lamps, etc.... but... bean counters won't like the "we need a million dollars of fixtures every 10 years".

I also think we are reaching peak brightness that is usable with LED fixtures. Ya, they can get brighter... but they really don't need to get brighter. Even the 1,000 bucks chauvet LED fixtures are stupid bright and brighter then any conventional they would replace. So, hopefully that starts driving down the cost. We're no longer at the point where going LED has any sacrifices. I don't think you need to plan for obsolesces like you did 5-10 years ago.
A big part for accounting that you have to pay attention to is that you're moving the maintenance from the dimmer rack to the fixtures themselves. Yes, dimmers are pretty rock solid items, but every once in a while they need some pretty major repairs to control or dimming cards. Most facilities will drastically reduce that cost, or possibly even eliminate it. That helps a great deal to offset the maintenance cost on the fixtures.
 

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