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Author Topic: Questions about dimmers for PAR 56's  (Read 5516 times)

Mike Sullivan

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Questions about dimmers for PAR 56's
« on: August 22, 2014, 12:28:18 pm »

I'm looking at buying a lot of regular PAR 56's (around 32-36 at the moment) to supplement our LED lighting rig to be used to the front, or for simple lighting on small gigs.  Not wanting to put a ton of money into it, just enough to make it work (the right way)...

1.  Would we be okay with 500 watt bulbs vs. 300 watt?  Is there going to be a major difference in output?  Also what flood would be best?  They will mainly be used for front wash but may also be used altogether for rear wash on some shows if necessary, but rear will mainly be LED.
2.  As far as dimmers, would we be better off purchasing separate dimmers and mounting them on each bar (of four cans) or building a dimmer rack and using something such as Socapex connectors?
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Robert Piascik

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Re: Questions about dimmers for PAR 56's
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2014, 12:47:43 pm »


1.  Would we be okay with 500 watt bulbs vs. 300 watt?  Is there going to be a major difference in output?  Also what flood would be best?  They will mainly be used for front wash but may also be used altogether for rear wash on some shows if necessary, but rear will mainly be LED.

My understanding was that 300w was the max for a Par 56, but maybe that's incorrect.


2.  As far as dimmers, would we be better off purchasing separate dimmers and mounting them on each bar (of four cans) or building a dimmer rack and using something such as Socapex connectors?

I would think this depends on your usage. If you plan to mount four fixtures on a bar on a tripod on the corner of the stage then I would put a 4 ch dimmer on each bar. If you use 500w bulbs that's one circuit per tripod - a pretty neat set up for smaller gigs.

If you plan on mounting them six on a bar for connecting to a truss or something like that then maybe the Socapex would be more convenient. There are pre-made bars that allow six fixtures to be mounted on a bar but I think they are generally used with Par64 1kW fixtures. The Socapex allows you to conveniently connect to rack mounted dimmers located close to your distro. If the bars are 15'-20' up in the air 300w-500w fixtures probably wouldn't be enough light output.
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Mark Cadwallader

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Re: Questions about dimmers for PAR 56's
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2014, 04:29:54 pm »

Mike,

Are you planning on using a dedicated distro and dimmer system to always use all the fixtures at the same time, or do you want to be able to send individual four-fixture bars in ones and twos?  Is your intent to use regular Edison connectors (NEMA 5-15 or 5-20) to power dimmer packs, so you can plug in to regular wall power?

If you are just planning on Edison power, and want to be able to plug in at any sort of venue, go with 300W lamps. You can run those on a single inexpensive four channel dimmer pack, and only draw a maximum of 1200 W lighting load.  You could place two on a 20A circuit (if you are lucky enough to find a dedicated circuit).

At 500W lamps, you end up with more (or more expensive) dimmers, and will need a lot more circuits.

I suggest that you get four fixtures and two each of the 300W and the 500W lamps, and see how much output you get without any dimming. Be sure to get some gel, too, because you can lose 90+% of the lumens with a saturated color.

Note that with conventional instruments, you need one fixture per color of wash. (Yes, there are color scrollers available, but not for cheap.) I note that you can mix wattage lamps if you want more punch for the deep blues and reds, and less for ambers and pinks.

The beam width is going to depend on the focal throw and stage width, not to mention how many lighting positions you will have for a given show.  If I had to pick just one thing, I'd pick a MWF (medium wide flood). It doesn't sound as if you have an LD designing for each show.

FWIW I would never spend my own money buying conventional fixtures for wash lighting.  (Tightly focused lighting for theater or dance is another issue - Source 4 fixtures make sense under those conditions, but that's not what you are looking for.

Pencil out the full costs of fixtures, dimmers, control, lamps, cabling, support, and gels for conventional vs LED fixtures. Look at the power requirements and distro needs, and how many lighting positions you need per wash color.  I respectfully suggest that LED fixtures will come out on top over the long run, unless you primarily want to rent out two trees of four PARs at a time.

Mark C.
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duane massey

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Re: Questions about dimmers for PAR 56's
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2014, 01:17:30 am »

There is a significant  difference between the 500w and 300w par56 lamps. The 300w are incandescent while the 500w are quartz halogen.
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Rob Spence

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Re: Questions about dimmers for PAR 56's
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2014, 02:52:12 pm »

There is a significant  difference between the 500w and 300w par56 lamps. The 300w are incandescent while the 500w are quartz halogen.

Silly question but do 500 watt PARs fit in  a PAR56 can?


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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Questions about dimmers for PAR 56's
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2014, 05:34:20 pm »

Silly question but do 500 watt PARs fit in  a PAR56 can?


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Generally not.  The numbers following PAR refer to the diameter of the lamp (in 1/8ths of an inch), so a PAR56 lamp is 7" in diameter whereas the PAR64 lamp is 8" in diameter.  At least that's for the sealed beam lamps - I'm not sure if the DYS lamp and reflector setups vary the size of the lamp itself or not. 

Regarding the OP's question, I'd agree with the others and recommend renting a few of each to see what you like best.  Given the number of cans you're looking to install, there is a substantial difference in power consumption between the two options.  Your power and dimmer setup would need to match whichever type of PAR you choose.  Adding Socapex will increase your cost as well.  How often do you plan on needing to access the dimmers? 

As far as LED options go, I think the choice is up to you.  I personally do not like the look of LED cans on the talent's face - I think it's too cold and harsh.  I generally use 500w PAR 64s and 250w PAR 38s for the bulk of my lighting jobs.  Yes, LEDs have several advantages over halogen lamps and I know there are plenty of threads on here discussing that.  I've just never found them to be cost effective for what I do (at least not yet - they'll get there) and I think the halogen looks warmer and more natural on the face.  Seeing as you're looking to add these to supplement an existing LED system I would think you've already decided on halogen for one reason or another, but it doesn't hurt to try a few LED cans as well to see what you think looks best.  Hope this helps!

-Jeff
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Josh Daws

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Re: Questions about dimmers for PAR 56's
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2014, 02:39:02 pm »

Silly question but do 500 watt PARs fit in  a PAR56 can?


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yes you can get 500w and 300w Par56 lamps that fit in a Par 56 shell
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Josh Daws

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Re: Questions about dimmers for PAR 56's
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2014, 02:44:06 pm »

....If you use 500w bulbs that's one circuit per tripod - a pretty neat set up for smaller gigs.

this won't work on a typical 15a circuit(1800w @120v MAX). you will only be able to fit 5 on it total. however if lamped to 300w you could do this and have a little amount for room to put on a mixer or other stuff....

however if its a 20a (2400w @120v MAX) service you can totally fit the 4 fixtures on 1 circuit
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Rob Spence

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Re: Questions about dimmers for PAR 56's
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2014, 03:07:54 pm »

Mike,

.........
Pencil out the full costs of fixtures, dimmers, control, lamps, cabling, support, and gels for conventional vs LED fixtures. Look at the power requirements and distro needs, and how many lighting positions you need per wash color.  I respectfully suggest that LED fixtures will come out on top over the long run, unless you primarily want to rent out two trees of four PARs at a time.

Mark C.

+100

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Mark Oakley

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Re: Questions about dimmers for PAR 56's
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2014, 11:18:18 pm »

I have a set of Yorkville LP-604 bars (4) that I re-wired to 4 500w Parcans about 15 years ago. I had to change the main supply cord to #12, put a 20A twist-lock on them and upgrade the breaker to 20A. I usually run 3 cans on and one off per scene. Strangely I can run all 4 lights up full and not blow anything. Of course, each bar has to be on its own circuit. They are substantially brighter than using 300w bulbs.

-Mark
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Re: Questions about dimmers for PAR 56's
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2014, 11:18:18 pm »


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