Who all makes PAR cans?

gafftapegreenia

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So, everyone sells PAR cans. But which companies actually makes these cans. Can we make a list of all the companies that actually manufacture PAR cans.

All those DJ lighting companies, surely they don't all make their own PAR's. I would think someone else makes them and then puts on a sticker. As in the case of the bulbamerica.com "economy" par cans, who actually makes those?
 

beam_1973

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I have a bunch of Kupo PAR56's in my collection ... and a few generic ones as well.

Craig
 

Logos

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I've actually got some Thomas cans from early days. Built in gel holders and sealed backs with a bakelite lamp handle so you didn't touch the ceramic. Unfortunately they need rewiring and I don't currently trust them.
 

soundlight

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Altman, L&E, Kupo. Those are the ones that I know of. And, unless they've outsourced their production (which I don't think that they have), James Thomas Engineering (Thomas for short) is still making some rugged units.
 

JD

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The "China Cans" work fine for light duty, but don't bang them around much! They are available with a long list of brand names, but are basically the same thing. The Altman cans are good steel cans for bouncing around a lot. 64 cans can usually be bought (China) for $18. Par cans are kind of on their way out, with the introduction of things like the Omnipar (spelling?) which is more like a conventional fixture with a lamp and interchangeable lenses, but cost a LOT more. So, Par choice has got a lot to do with how they are going to be treated.
 

Sean

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Par cans are kind of on their way out, with the introduction of things like the Omnipar (spelling?) which is more like a conventional fixture with a lamp and interchangeable lenses, but cost a LOT more. So, Par choice has got a lot to do with how they are going to be treated.
I'd have to strongly disagree with you. The quality of light you get from a PAR-64 is not matched by Onmipars, Starpars, Source-Four PARs, etc. They are different lights.

I just specified equipment for a new theatre. Both PAR-64's AND Source-Four PARs are on the list. Different tools for different jobs.

--Sean
 

JD

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Ummm, av, LED's are another thing that competes with the standard par, so I am not sure what you are saying. Sean, I would agree with your statement as I still love a FFN in a 64 can, (or 4559 ACL's) but what I am seeing in southeast PA is a lot less pars, and a lot more Omni's. In fact, sometimes I think I'm the only one around still buying pars! The thing that may save the par is that it is still one of the most cost effective ways of throwing a lot of light. I mean, how else can you throw 8k of light for $352 bulbs included!
 

icewolf08

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First off, I have to agree, I don't think that PARs are going away any time soon. They are light, cost effective, and in the concert world, completely invaluable.

OmniPAR's and Source 4 PARs are good instruments, but it is true, they aren't quite the same as a standard PAR. Sure, the lens is designed to give a very similar field angle to a PAR and the lamp is more energy efficient, but the quality and shape of light is not quite the same. These new PARs are certainly useful, but chances are we won't see the PAR 64 going away any time soon.
 

stantonsound

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Charlotte
I actually bought some par 64's from BulbAmerica....and still have the boxes. They do not have any markings as to who makes them, or exactly where. They just say "Made in P.R.C.".

I have about 2 dozen tomcat par 64's and about 40 of the Chinese ones. By far, I like the TomCat ones better for personal use and dependability. For the price, however, I keep buying the Chinese. I can almost buy 3 of the cheaper for every one TomCat.
 

JD

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I was suggesting the design of the fixture, not the lamp.
Actually, the term "PAR can" refers to the lamp the fixture uses, a "Parabolic Aluminized Reflector" lamp, in most if not all cases a sealed beam bulb. The numbers come from the BULB measured in 1/8 inch increments. (Par38, Par56, Par64) Much like many other terms, PAR has been abused. We now call most any round wash light that doesn't fit neatly into another category a PAR light. An Omnipar is NOT a PAR. A LED par is NOT a PAR. Even the so called "Ray" light, with it's aluminum reflector is NOT a PAR. I remember when Par cans first came out around 1968. Theater people didn't even consider them a lighting instrument! They were some bastardized thing those rock people were using and would never be used in a proper theater. Ha! The par can came a long way. Lets give it the respect it deserves and at least let it have it's own name, and not give that name away to something that isn't a par! Ok, I admit, that was a rant 35 years in the making! I feel better now ;)
 
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ship

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Uni-Par makes the only plastic PAR cans and the reviews on them are good. http://www.unipar.com/

After that, there is steel and aluminum PAR cans. Steel cans are typically for the stage in having the ability to mount a top hat, scroller or what ever and have the fixture neither rotate downward nor have problems in fitting the accessory into the gel frame brackets. Steel cans for the stage are rugged and will last a long time without rivets loosening up, bending out of shape, play in the yoke etc.

For steel stage and studio cans, (not having checked the main brands) Altman, L&E, Leviton, Times Square and Strand no doubt all have a steel can if not also a rock and roll aluminum can.

James Thomas Engineering / Thomas is known for the top of the line in aluminum cans. You get what you pay for. Tomcat no doubt if not offering their’s are also top of the line in thinking they offer them also.

After that, most major theater/rock suppliers such as Technilux, TMB, Creative Stage Lighting, BMI no doubt Production Advantage and many others offer a product they engineered and farmed out to China or Europe in having made for them. Heck, where I work they also had their own custom fixtures made for them at one point. Not very cost effective in the end. Also Penn Fabrication offers PAR cans of some renown as a compering company to that of American DJ and others. (If you have not gotten it yet, I’m not offering an opinion of what is best or good, more the choices in general.)

Kupo is an amazing company - not perfect but some times they do make good gear in becoming in some cases or ways highly respected or on the road to it. Kupo in the US has it’s primary distributor thru Moonlight www.moonlightusa.com Most theater suppliers can get Kupo gear but in some end result as with ETC gear often not in an absolute way thru ETC, Kupo gear comes thru a main distributer. At very least when I’m ordering parts which often are standardized for rock and roll cans, I use the Kupo exploded pictorial either off the Kupo website or Moonlight website (forget which) to ensure I get the part I’m asking for even if not for a Kupo fixture. Moonlight also not saying that they are the best supplier for Kupo gear, but to the best of my knowledge, they are the primary supplier to the US. End user prices at times will very in a distributer being cheaper than an end user. Also with Kupo gear, as with any made overseas gear, at times if you need a part or bulk of gear you wait for stuff coming in from overseas, clearing customs etc. in you getting your part or cans in time. This to the extent that at times those you bought the gear from simply won't be interested in helping you get parts to them. Not to say all or any distributer but at times it will happen that something is out of stock (most stock the various parts) or even that they seem to lack interest in stocking parts to what they sell. Welcome to the world of rock and roll cans - best have some replacement parts in stock rather than waiting on a boat. Resupply of parts is however a factor.

On parts by the way, the best PAR 64 lamp base on the market these days is the Sylvania/Osram “PAR 1.” #F511914 is the number I work with. The aluminum frame about it helps in many ways support and protect it.

Nuts and bolts, there is a lot of rock and roll cans out there and TMB even came out with an upgraded version of it within the last few months. Not better or worse, different in considering.

Back to nuts and bolts, there is defiant differences between a quality can and a crap can. First is the gel frame clips. Does it have three clips with spring steel gel frame retainers or four clips with one that is a spring hinge? The ones with the three clips are more often than not crap cans which won’t stand up, get bent up easily and won’t mount an accessory. Look to the thickness of aluminum on the fixture. The thicker the aluminum, the more resistant to rivets and bolts thru them ovaling out the holes and becoming loose in a way that is hard to repair. Holes in the aluminum do open up larger holes especially around the yoke mounts, after a few years of people adjusting the fixture by way of not first loosening it’s knob, the aluminum does tend to wear out a bit around these holes. That’s a problem. Thick aluminum good, thin wears out with time.

Three clip fixtures also don't stand up on their own and this also causes problems in them falling over and causing problems. Three clip fixture... bad in my view, loose the spring retainer clip and you pay for another. This not to say that those four clip vesions are better in geneal given a thickness of aluminum concept but for a fixture that if you should set down on the stage it won't fall over, those with a latch as it's fourth clip are superior and often better but not always.

At the bottom of the fixture, the better fixtures have the aluminum rolled at it’s end rather than just terminating. Such rolled up into a circle aluminum adds a tremendous amounts of strength to this end that’s easy to bend up out of round if just ending there. In addition to aluminum, you will often find on cheaper fixtures and especially the three clip ones a slightly smaller grade of steel that makes up the gel frame clip. This steel also bends out of shape readily in not allowing the gel frame to get into the fixture. Bend it back and you often also loosen up it’s mounts.

These for the most part are key factors in fixture design and differences. I don’t buy my fixtures pre-wired - don’t like how it’s done. Nothing worse than a SPT cord melting down unless it’s a crap fixture mounted barrier strip with terminals that come loose and wires that mount down from there unless it’s some just as bad if not worse cap splice that also don’t take the heat. Buy my fixtures un-wired so I can buy a lamp base with 40" whip to it and put that whip into fiberglass sleeving. This and the ground - rivets loosen up (something you want to check in prepping the fixture), screws come loose, I got my own way of grounding in a better way. Buy it un-wired and wire it yourself and you often can save a few bucks as an option.

None the less, there is an overview into a few suppliers and more important what you are looking for in differences between them.
 
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soundlight

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Oct 27, 2005
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Backtracking up a few posts here,

I actually bought some par 64's from BulbAmerica....and still have the boxes. They do not have any markings as to who makes them, or exactly where. They just say "Made in P.R.C.".
"P.R.C." means "People's Republic of China".

I got some of the BulbAmerica cans for my high school, and they work great for occasional use. Since the cans only get used for two or three shows a year, it's great, because we don't need something that's gonna get knocked around inside a double-hung truss or otherwise stressed.
 

soundlight

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Oct 27, 2005
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NJ & NYC
Hmmm...that was the non-sarcastic and very unaware me replying as soon as I woke up this morning. The much more sarcastic and awake me now sees my error.