Atlantic Illumination Entertainment Lighting

Lighting Essays



The Push to Replace
Older Lighting Fixtures

by Richard Bonner

Are You Spending Money Unnecessarily?

All lighting fixtures possess at least one quality in common: they can project light onto a stage. Some do it more brightly than others; some do it more efficiently than others; some do it with more control than others; some do it by different methods. Because of marketing and the desire of companies to produce sales through replacement, more so than the lack of availability of lamps and parts, older fixtures are being rushed into obsolesce even though they are still completely useful.

This article is focused toward the usage of older fixtures for theatre purposes, but could also be applied to products other than stage lights. Only fixtures with incandescent lamps will be compared here, but there will be a final word regarding other light sources.

  Some Factors to Consider:

  Questions to Ask before Removing
   Existing Fixtures from your Inventory

  1. Do you really need replacements?  If your lights are still working and they adequately light the stage, why replace them? In many cases, existing lights don't perform well because they are dirty and/or out of alignment. See our Equipment Maintenance article for servicing procedures.)

  2. Will the replacement suit the purpose?  By all means replace a fixture if the replacement will fulfil a purpose not presently able to be had. Before paying out money though, see if the required task can be carried out by using another fixture from your current inventory. Or, will a change of placement or lamp wattage help? What about an accessory such as barndoors or a snoot; might that serve the requirement?

  3. Will there be unwanted side effects?  Consider:

  4. Does your present Fixture Still Serve a Purpose?  Can it be used for some task? If it's not suitable as a main light, might it be useful as a special? As a scenery or wall washer? As a lobby fixture to provide a theatrical atmosphere for waiting patrons?

  5. Does the Fixture Still Perform as When it was New?  If not, service it. Clean, align, and lubricate it. Replace missing hardware. If it is not in good shape, refurbish it. A fully overhauled fixture can be bought for around half the price of a similar, newer unit. If you do the work yourself, the cost will be far less.
    (Again, see Equipment Maintenance.)

It is not wise to fall prey to the "New! Improved! Shiny!" marketing of
manufacturers that simply want you to constantly replace your
lighting without considering if there is an advantage to do
so. Replacements may well be necessary and provide
wonderful advantages not currently had, but
replace under your terms, not theirs.

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For some Humourous Observations:
Murphy's Laws of Entertainment Lighting

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