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TOPIC: Lobby Lighting

Lobby Lighting 08 Aug 2003 09:35 #28362

  • take2
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I have a question regarding two alcoves I have on each side of my lobby. They are currently lighted by wall scons but the light that they shed is very minimal. Since kids like to congregate in those areas I'm thinking of boosting the lighting. Any suggestions?
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Re: Lobby Lighting 08 Aug 2003 12:52 #28363

  • jimor
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Fluorescents are your most economical at this time, and are available in a variety of types (tubes: straight, U-shaped, circular) and colors as well as the compact fluorescents and those made with electronic ballasts that screw right into a standard medium base socket, usually in a warm white color. Cool white standard tubes might be too bright and 'cold' in color, unless you use them behind plastic panels of a suitable color, or perhaps wind them with colored PLASTIC theatre "gels" in a candy cane effect while mounting them diagonally from the wall outward toward the ceiling; this would make them look less 'institutional.'

Incandescents will give more spot light in a smaller package, and while they initially cost less, they cost a lot more in the long run to get the amount of light desired since they are only 6% efficient.

If your fixtures are uplights (they point upward to reflect off of a light color ceiling) you might increase the number of lamps by means of adapters. If your fixtures feature only ornamental bulbs, you might switch to standard bulbs if the glare factor is not too great. If there is 'nearly' enough light, perhaps using rope lights would add enough or at least define the area so kids might not find its darkness as enticing. Such 'ropes' (clear plastic tubes with incandescent bulbs inside) will not last more than 20,000 hours (about 2 years continuous use) and will get warm to the touch and will outgass their plasticizers for a while resulting in a strange smell in their immediate vicinity. I'm not sure if similar strings of LEDs would give enough light, though they are much more efficient and have a life span measured in decades. At least one company sells strings of LEDs in all colors that plug right into the wall without transformers: www.foreverbright.com LED wall/ceiling panels are available from a company I listed in another post on this forum.

If you REALLY need lots more light, consider using a suspended ceiling there with fluorescent tubes above a grid of metal or plastic fins which will cause you to have only downlight and no glare of light scattered to the rest of the lobby. Such grilles or grids are available from some home remodeler stores, as well as commercial lighting distributors. See your business-to-business yellow pages. You can also make such 'grids' by means of wires strung across the ciling with panels of fabric suspended from them, the fabric being in any color/pattern you like and they will block the horizontal scattering of the light thus reducing glare. Translucent fabrics will look like stained glass when the lights above them are on. The only problem here is fireproffing; there are recipes for such "fireproofing dips" in various theatre crafts books at your library, or you could look in the pages of TCI magazine for commercial fireproofers, though any local theatre supply will probably be able to do it for you. Be sure to furnish them an intended fabric sample first to see what the chemicals do to the fabric. You must also determine local building code enforcement standards in this regard. A letter to the Chief Building Inspector might do the trick.

Another possibility is to use a small wattage HID lamp and fixture, most likely as an uplight. These do cost more, but have a long life span at greater efficiency. You should probably try to find an electrician who has removed them from some other service and can install one on a loan basis while you evaluate if it will work for you, since they are VERY bright and only the Metal Halide form produce a truly white light. Sodium versions last even longer, but the orangeish-pink light as seen on expressways may not be to your taste. They also produce noticible heat -- more than fluorescents or LEDs, but much less than incandescents.

If you have access behind the back wall of the alcove and want a "retro chick" effect that will sillouhette anyone in there, consider replacing all or part of the wall with glass blocks (now again popular and again available in curved forms as well) and you would put whatever kind of naked light bulb you wanted back there shining on the blocks. Put some large plastic plants between the lights and the blocks and you will have very interesting patterns. Likewise you can get "gobos" (metal spotlight screens in hundreds of punched-out shapes) to cast light patterns upon the block -- you could even have your own custom ones made with your theatre's logo or any other design you come up with. Your imagination is the only limit with this approach. With a slow sequential timer (from a sign maker or a theatre supplier) you could cause the lights to fade from one to another with different gobos and thus slowly change from one pattern to another for variety or thematic look. You might even put an aquarium behind a glass or plastic 'window' in such a wall and let the aquarium/terrarium lights spill into the alcove for another classy effect.

A last possibility is neon tubing, and it is available in not only some 30 colors, but also in a high light output form called COLD CATHODE. Neon is relatively inexpnesive to operae so is often just left 'on' ontinuously since it has a very long lifespan if made carefully. Of course, neon IS expensive! And it must be mounted in such a way that the kids cannot touch it since it not only breaks easily, but it runs on VERY HIGH VOLTAGE which can easily kill. There is a great opportunity for artistry with neon, but how much money do you have, and how big a risk are you willing to take? (Some places have just asked for numerous neon beer signs which together do give a goodly amount of light, but is that the decor you want? Rent the movie "The Neon Ceiling" to get an idea.)

[This message has been edited by jimor (edited August 08, 2003).]
Jim R. (new E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) member: www.HistoricTheatres.org
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