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Designing a lighting system does not to be complicated, and often in the world of stage lighting less is more. Less is more is even more true when in addition to being of the best quality, you need your stage lighting system to be mobile. This article will aim at providing advice on how to assemble a reliable, easy to use, and mobile lighting system. Before you can decide much, you have to decide what your lighting will hang from. In order to decide whether you need a tripod stand or a truss system you will need to figure out how many and what size PAR cans, ellipsoidals, pin spots, lighting effects, etc. you require for your venue. Tripod stands typically come in 9-ft or 10-ft spans with a 30lbs and 100lbs maximum weight load respectively. If your lighting needs exceed the limitations of these stands, then a truss system is most likely for you. In addition to being to bear more weight, trusses come with the added benefit of being able to fly lightweight speakers. Truss systems come in non-crank or crank-up versions. They typically have 10-ft spans with maximum loads of 200lbs to 300lbs. The truss systems themselves weigh around 85lbs.

Once you decide whether you need a stand or a truss, you’ll need to decide what kind of PAR cans or other types of fixtures you want and need. The heart of your lighting system will be a combination of PAR cans and/or ellipsoidal lights. For your par cans you will need to select a par can size and bulb and choose an appropriate beam type and wattage for your specific space. LED par cans should be seriously considered for your mobile lighting set up. Their energy efficiency will reduce the amount you need. Furthermore, LED par cans have on board dimmers, lighting effects, and color changing abilities which will cut down on the number of dimmer packs, gels and other hardware you would otherwise need. Don’t forget about LED and traditional lighting effects, they are extremely useful if you are using your system in order to supplement a DJ setup.

The next question is how you’ll dim and control your system. Portable dimmer packs, like those made by Optima, feature an easy to use LCD display and will enable you to control your lighting. You will also need a controller. Controllers can be extremely complex and deserve an article unto themselves, luckily we have one on our blog (see “Taking Control of Your Lighting System”). You’ll want to choose a controller that has controls that will be intuitive and easy to use by the light operator, whether that means selecting a controller that uses primarily sliders or a more computer-like interface. Also, don’t forget that LED PAR cans don’t require dimmer packs.

Lastly, don’t forget about replacement bulbs and gels if you’re PARs or other fixtures are not LED. It’s better to have extra supplies on hand incase of premature bulb or gel failure. Make sure that your incandescent, halogen, or metal halide PAR bulbs are the correct wattage, color temperature, and beam angle for your needs.

Hopefully this article was informative and has got your gears turning on how to put together a simple, effective, and portable lighting system. In addition to our stage lighting products, make sure you check our automotive lighting, medical & scientific, MR16, and CFL products. Check out our website now and start saving!

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