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Author Topic: help needed with lighting set up  (Read 6993 times)

Karl P(eterson)

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Re: help needed with lighting set up
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2009, 08:52:22 pm »

Bill Beach wrote on Sun, 02 August 2009 16:54

actually, I was thinking of mounting the dimmer paks in a storage area with a sort of 'patch-panel' set up for powering the lights.  we would run several 20A 'circuits' above and behind the stage but instead of hooking them directly to the circuit breaker, terminate them with an Edison power cord in the same place the dimmer paks are located.  that way one can mix and match the lines for the best use of the lighting on the other end of the 'circuit'.  if it is an LED, then the cord would be connected directly to a power outlet.  if it is a standard light, connect the cord to a dimmer pak.  those lights you want controlled together, connect to the same output on the dimmer pak (obviously paying attention to the amps drawn per unit).


Talk to a locally qualified electrician, and possibly the county code guys. While patch panels on installed systems are absolutely possible, it is normally more complex than a bunch of outlets and edisons.

Karl P
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Tony Williams

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Re: help needed with lighting set up
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2009, 03:50:23 am »

Karl P(eterson) wrote on Sun, 02 August 2009 20:52

Bill Beach wrote on Sun, 02 August 2009 16:54

actually, I was thinking of mounting the dimmer paks in a storage area with a sort of 'patch-panel' set up for powering the lights.  we would run several 20A 'circuits' above and behind the stage but instead of hooking them directly to the circuit breaker, terminate them with an Edison power cord in the same place the dimmer paks are located.  that way one can mix and match the lines for the best use of the lighting on the other end of the 'circuit'.  if it is an LED, then the cord would be connected directly to a power outlet.  if it is a standard light, connect the cord to a dimmer pak.  those lights you want controlled together, connect to the same output on the dimmer pak (obviously paying attention to the amps drawn per unit).


Talk to a locally qualified electrician, and possibly the county code guys. While patch panels on installed systems are absolutely possible, it is normally more complex than a bunch of outlets and edisons.

Karl P


I agree with Karl on a CERTIFIED electrician for the remote dimmers. My only add to this is to not go 100% LEDs for stage lighting. its always good to have a few par 56/64s to give that good ol' tungsten warm light. Especially with cheap LED lighting, it is hard to get a good looking key light that makes peoples faces look pretty. The LEDs will make their skin tones look like a washed out bluish green color. Not very flattering.
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Karl P(eterson)

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Re: help needed with lighting set up
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2009, 04:11:10 pm »

To follow up what Tony said (because I didn't note the LED stuff) you do NOT want to build an all LED rig. In fact I would go so far as to say you want a good incandescent stage "wash" before you add your first LED.

Even moderately expensive LED's render white poorly. But they look so beautiful on the saturated colors that I almost forgive them.

Karl P
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Arnold B. Krueger

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Re: help needed with lighting set up
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2009, 06:38:29 am »

Bill Beach wrote on Sun, 02 August 2009 21:54

actually, I was thinking of mounting the dimmer paks in a storage area with a sort of 'patch-panel' set up for powering the lights.  we would run several 20A 'circuits' above and behind the stage but instead of hooking them directly to the circuit breaker, terminate them with an Edison power cord in the same place the dimmer paks are located.  that way one can mix and match the lines for the best use of the lighting on the other end of the 'circuit'.  if it is an LED, then the cord would be connected directly to a power outlet.  if it is a standard light, connect the cord to a dimmer pak.  those lights you want controlled together, connect to the same output on the dimmer pak (obviously paying attention to the amps drawn per unit).


It is entirely feaasible to have a dedicated dimmer for each fixture of logical collection of them.  You then accomplish your patching function by assigning DMX addresses to dimmers, and activating various DMX addresses using your digital lighing board.

If you do this right you have a very dynamic collection of alternatives to use for lighting design, but you never actually change even one electrical connection.

Of course, LED fixtures need no dimmer packs, so you generally end up looping your DMX line through a bunch of dimmer packs stashed away some place, perhpas a lighting closet, and then out into fixture land where the LED fixtures live.

Maybe 3 years ago I'm sure that I was about as clueless as anybody about lighting, and compared to really well-experienced people I still am. However, we started out  back then with a 6 simple PAR can fixtures, a quad dimmer and a simple DJ-style DMX board, and interated to our current system with less than a dozen fixture groups, a half dozen quad dimmers and 4 DMX-controlled LED washes.

It turned out that a lot of the the fixtures for the lighting that we needed to control were already there, both main room lighting and other spotlights that had previously been controlled by light switches spread all around our sanctuary.

Key to these changes were the (contributed) services of professional electrican who worked in a large industrial plant.

By coincidence most of the fixtures that were already there were PAR 56, and we learned that we could do a lot in the way of customizing the function of PAR 56 fixtures by selecting narrow spot, intermediate and flood type bulbs. In one case we did a job that was probably really a job for an expensive ellipsoidale fixture using an inexpensive sheet metal baffle.

IME doing a good job of lighting requires a lot of power, as LED technology is still very limited in terms of price/ performance. While a cheap PAR 56 and bulb may cost $75, its functional equivalent in LEDs will be superior in many ways, but it will still cost more like $1K. There aren't anything like those kind of savings due to eliminating the dimmer pack.

In addition, alternative lighting while being far less energy intensive still requires real amounts of power. Thus far we've probably averaged a 5:1 power savings where we could avoid using regular incadescent lamps and spotlights. But, that means that if your old-tech design needed 40 KW, you still need 8 KW and even 8 KW is non-trivial.

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Re: help needed with lighting set up
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2009, 06:38:29 am »


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