An Introduction to LED Stage Lighting
LED stage lights are now the most popular means of lighting stage and performance areas. LED fixtures have several key advantages over conventional incandescent (tungsten or halogen) lighting fixtures:
Types of LED fixtures
LED stage lights come in several types:
Frequently Asked Questions
Are all LED Fixtures the same?
No! Quite apart from the various types mentioned above, brightness and build quality can vary enormously.
Some manufactures will quote brightness, but many do not. Even where a figure is quoted it can’t necessarily be taken at face value, since the different colour LED groups emit at different wavelengths with different energy levels. Also, not all manufacturers take the measurement at the same distance from the light, eg one may quote a brightness figure at 2m from the fixture, while another quotes the output at 3m or 5m. A better guide may be the power rating of the fixture in Watts (W), but again this needs to be treated with caution since an inefficient fixture may have a higher power consumption, but lower brightness.
An LED lighting fixture is only as good as the components used to build it, the LEDs themselves and their power supplies being the most critical components. There are, unfortunately, a lot of “cheap and nasty” LED fixtures on the market, which may look good on paper but have an appallingly high failure rate. It is difficult to generalise, but we will happily advise on brands and types to consider/avoid – please enquire.
Do I still need conventional incandescent lighting fixtures?
There are now very few applications which are not suitable for LED fixtures. They are ideal for coloured wash-lighting and spot-lighting for the reasons outlined above. In the vast majority of circumstances a GOOD QUALITY LED FIXTURE will provide the best combination of versatility, brightness and power consumption. Please ask if you’re unsure – we can still source a variety of conventional lighting to use alongside the latest range of high quality LED fixtures.
How do I control the lighting?
Modern lighting systems (LED and incandescent tungsten/halogen dimmers) are controlled via “DMX” – a simple cabling system that connects all of the fixtures together and allows them to be controlled from a single lighting control desk. The desk typically allows each fixture to be controlled individually, although several can be grouped together if required. In the case of incandescent fixtures it is generally only possible to control the brightness, from full off to full on. For LED fixtures, however, the colour and brightness can be controlled, along-with additional functions typically including strobe, zoom, left/right/up/down movement and sound-to-light modes. The latter function is ideal for musical performances, dance classes, discos, etc, where the lights follow the beat of the music.
Many lighting desks can also be pre-programmed, so that a series of complex preset scenes can be called up at the touch of a button, if required.
We typically recommend opting for a larger lighting control desk than you actually need, to allow room for expansion later.
I don’t have a lighting system at present – what exactly do I need and what will it cost?
As a bare minimum you will need some lights and a desk to control them. Many installations don’t need anything more than Par Can wash lights and a simple control desk. We would generally recommend at least four lights, but we have done smaller installations with as few as two lights.
The lights can be placed on the floor, hung from one or more portable T-Bar tripods or attached to the walls or ceiling. Generally, however, we would recommend installing a dedicated lighting bar, which allows the lighting fixtures to be moved around and easily redirected. It also allows additional lighting fixtures to be added later (either purchased or hired in for specific productions).
Wherever they are positioned, the lights will need to be powered and controlled. Trailing cables can be used for portable installations (floor or tripod mounted), but a permanent mains power supply will need to be installed for fixed lights (wall, ceiling or dedicated lighting bar). Our Special Offer lighting packages will generally include this service within the price.
Larger installations may require multiple lighting bars or even a lighting grid. These installations would generally include a wider range of lighting fixtures (ie wash lights, fresnel lights, profiles, etc) and as such each client’s requirements will be unique.
We are always happy to undertake a site survey and demonstrate some of the lighting fixtures and control desks so you can make an informed decision.
I already have a lighting system, but I don’t know if it’s compatible with LED lighting fixtures.
We carry out a lot of ‘upgrade’ installations, where a client wishes to add LEDs to their existing lighting set-up. Some clients want to replace their entire system with LEDs, but others want to retain their existing incandescent tungsten/halogen lights and use them alongside new LED fixtures. Both scenarios are possible, but we would generally need to undertake a site survey to establish precisely what would be required. Please enquire.
So how can Active help me with my stage lighting?
As lighting specialists, we can help you to understand the options available to you, to get the best out of your budget. No two lighting installations are the same. Some of our customers have no lighting system at all, some have existing systems that need to be augmented or updated, some have restricted space or other physical limitations and some have existing (frequently condemned) systems that need to be isolated and/or removed. Whatever your requirements, we are here to help.