Choosing-Inexpensive-LED-Fixtures

How to Choose Inexpensive LED Fixtures

This post sponsored by StageLightCompany.com—professional lighting for churches.

In this article, Bryon Akerman talks about what type of fixtures you’ll need, and how to choose the right ones for your budget.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a creative look using LED fixtures. Determine your budget, what your space will allow you to use, and what type of fixtures you need to achieve your desired look. This will give you a good starting point.

The problem is, most churches don’t know exactly what they might need. When you start researching, it can seem a bit overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be if you break it down into a couple of key points.

First, figure out what look you want in the room. Are you looking to accent some back walls or build a focal point? Or are you wanting to cast color over the entire stage during worship? All of this can be accomplished with LED lighting, but it may take different types of lights to achieve your desired result.

There are three basic LED fixtures I want to talk about. Spots, floods, and washes.

Spots, Floods, and Wash LED Fixtures

Most LED light fixtures on the market today are considered spot fixtures. This means they have a very narrow beam. These would work great for highlighting a specific singer or prop, but would not be good for giving a nice glow across your stage.

A few wide flood LED Lights, on the other hand, would be great for putting an even color on your stage. They would not work well for drawing focus to a particular person or spot on stage.

Washes are just what they sound like. They wash a wall or area with light and are used more for accent lighting. These lights are more in line with the wide flood lights, but also come in what’s called a linear wash light. These lights are a long bar lights about 3-4ft wide and produce a long, thinner wash—specifically for lighting a back wall. There are other lights out there, including intelligent moving lights that move around or LED black lights. But we are going to focus on entry level LED lighting.

Now, when it comes to buying your lights, there are a lot of different options out there. Regardless of who you buy your lighting fixture from, they are all going to shine light. Your higher end lights will be made with higher quality and have more options. But cheaper lights can still work if you use them in the right environment and take care of them.

There are some things to consider when you are deciding where to purchase your lights. You need to consider how often are they are going to be moved, how far away the lights will be from the lighting board, and distance between the light and what it is shining on. Understanding these will help you select the best light.

Mobile churches, for instance, would probably want to steer away from getting the cheapest lights, because the lights would be moved in and out each week. It would pay to have some fixtures that are more rugged. A church that has lower ceilings and a smaller stage can get away with some lower end lights, because they aren’t needing as long of a throw (distance from light to stage) and the lights are probably going to be set and left alone without being moved on a regular basis.

The distance between the light board and the lights is a consideration for any LED lights, but especially for your lower end lights. The longer the distance, the more interference can affect your control signal from the board to the lights. Since, your lower end lights are usually made with cheaper parts, they are more likely to be affected by interference.

Remember, you often get what you pay for. But if you’re on a tight budget, you might consider these lighting sources that some of the CSDI readers have had success with:

  • PlanetDJ.com – Offer a large selection of lights and manufacturers.
  • StageLightingStore.com – Similar
  • StageLightCompany.com – LED Par Lights
  • Cheaplights.com – These are exactly how they sound. Cheap. But they work.
  • eBay – If you know what you’re looking for, some of the Chinese companies sell their products on eBay. (It’s important to look at seller rating if you’re planning on risking it.)

Upgrading your lighting doesn’t have to break the bank if you take the time to plan it out and choose the fixtures that will work best for your situation.

 

Bryon Akerman has run sound since he was ten. He now works for a production company and is planting a church in Oklahoma City.

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4 responses to How to Choose Inexpensive LED Fixtures

  1. Robert Walker June 11, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Your advice is spot on. We bought inexpensive chavet LED strips and the more we move them, the more “shorts” that seem to occur in the inputs/outputs. Also, we definitely had problems with them being so far from the light board. Some worked and some would blink intermittently, indicating some interference issues. Wish someone would comment on some inexpensive fixtures they’ve had great success with over long distances.

    • Make sure you have a terminator on the output of the last light in your chain. Also, and this is real important, make sure you use ONLY DMX cable. Also, some brands don’t play nice with one another, so if you have the ability to try another board, see if that fixes the issue

  2. We are building some lighted columns for our stage. Wondering what type of lights are best suited for being put inside them to give them a glow?

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