There is a running joke among many lighting folks that the annual LDI convention (www.ldishow.com) should really be called LEDI because of the growing focus on LED fixtures. With energy costs going up and LED fixture prices going down, it’s no wonder that LED fixtures are becoming a more popular choice for theatrical use. One of the problems to date though has been that there aren’t really good, affordable options to replace the conventional PAR, ellipsoidal and Fresnel fixtures that produce what we feel is natural white light.
Our team at CCI Solutions has long been searching for a good, affordable LED white light solution for churches. We need strong white light for key lighting, video and long throw situations. RGB LED lights simply won’t cut it for those applications. We work with many churches who don’t have adequate power and dimming capabilities, so finding a low power, non dimmer-dependent solution has been a high priority for us. If we do the math, a good theatrical lighting solution for white light can cost between $500-1,500 per fixture once you count the cost of the fixture, dimming and electrical work. This is why with the right fixture, an economical LED white light solution for theatrical lighting could be more cost effective in both the initial purchase and in the long term power savings.
At November’s LDI show our team aggressively searched out new options for LED white fixtures and managed to find a few options that may in fact change the game for LED theatrical fixtures. And we weren’t the only ones searching as it seemed like every manufacturer with an LED Ellipsoidal fixture had people lined up to check out their offerings. In fact, while talking to the guys at Chauvet Professional about their new Ovation series, we ran into a lighting tech on a mission. His employer had given him a light meter, a notebook and the task of measuring the brightness of every LED ellipsoidal and fresnel fixture at the show. And his results confirmed what our team saw with our eyes: the new Ovation Series LED fixtures we were standing in front of were the brightest white LED fixtures at the show. And at Infocomm just a few weeks ago, we saw new, similar offerings from Elation and it’s only a matter of time before all of the serious LED manufacturers have versions of their own.
Over the course of this year, CCI Solutions has done a number of projects where we’ve bypassed the need for dimming and gone all LED. In early June we worked with a church in NW Arkansas, renovating their 400 seat auditorium with audio, video and lighting upgrades. When looking at their lighting system, it was clear that we would either have to upgrade their dimming or look at a 100% LED solution. Add that there is no on-site Technical Director or lift to get to the lights, a low maintenance, dimmer free solution made enormous sense, even factoring in a project AVL budget of $70,000. For this project we settled on 9 wide flood LED house lights, 5 of the Ovation F-95ww fixtures for front light and 12 of the American DJ Flat Par Tri18x. No dimmers, very little power draw and maintenance, but an amazing and effective lighting rig.
It’s finally time to start rethinking our approach to theatrical lighting fixtures. We have a number of options that are nearing the quality of conventional fixtures and won’t break the bank. And the great news is more fixtures keep coming out and they keep getting better with more features for the money. If you’re looking at a new lighting project and don’t already have dimming in place, don’t immediately assume that conventional fixtures are the way to go for your theatrical lighting. It might just be the right time to think LED. We’ve been helping churches make the LED transition for years now. Don’t hesitate to call us for more information on how you can save money, reduce maintenance headaches and have a better lit platform with LED theatrical lights.