I’ve recently taken the dive into some stage lighting – investing in a low cost controller, some light stands, and some inexpensive ($30 / per) PAR cans.
Once upon a time, such stage lighting was out of reach for many reasons. Cost, of course, but also infrastructure – with a typical PAR can running 300-500W, each lighting pole would require a full 15-20A circuit. And dimmer technology (often phase-controlled SCR’s or triacs) was notorious for inserting hum and noise into audio feeds – requiring careful measures to separate lighting power and cables from audio equipment.
Modern LED technology, although not as aesthetically or artistically pleasing, has brought such lighting into the hands of mere mortals. At 20W a can, the entire lighting package here draws about the same power as 2 x 60 W incandescent bulbs. Not much to worry about in terms of interference (although I ran a separate power feed because I had the extension cord, and you never know)
Add to that reliability – incandescent bulbs might be good for 1000-2000 hours, the MTBF for these units is upwards of 50,000 hours. And at $30 a can, replacing a light is not much more expensive than replacing an incandescent bulb.
It was far from a “rock show” in terms of lighting effects (I was single-handedly setting up and running both sound and lights) but it really set the mood / tone for the evening. And because LED’s are RGB controlled (each fixture can run Red, Green, and Blue colors, from 0-100%, as compared to incandescent lamps which require fixed gels to control color) I was free to monkey around with lighting when I got the time or the mood of the evening dictated.
So for about $300 – I have a nice little lighting package at my disposal for music, meetings, productions, and fun.
It’s a different world from when I was young, to be sure!