How do I Convert My Existing Dimmable House Lights To LEDs For Auditoriums, Churches, Meeting Rooms, Schools, And Theatres?

How do I Convert My Existing Dimmable House Lights To LEDs For Auditoriums, Churches, Meeting Rooms, Schools, And Theatres?

Posted by Mark A. Knight on 25th Oct 2018

First of all, what are House Lights?  

House lights are lighting fixtures over the main seating, standing, and/or gathering areas in auditoriums, churches, meeting rooms, schools, and theatres. The house lights are typically of a higher wattage range (between 100 and 1000 watts per lighting fixture), generally utilizing incandescent (quartz and so forth) lamps.

Secondly, what does dimmable mean?  

In this case, “dimmable” means that the house lighting fixtures are capable of being dimmed from 0% through 100% (and any percentage in between) for the control of the lighting fixtures output in the space – as opposed to just “on” or “off.” This is typically done with a commercial grade dimming and control system.

So, what is the problem with just taking a lamp that says “dimmable” and installing it in the house lighting fixtures?  

In many instances, it is very difficult to find a replacement LED that will work in House Lighting Fixtures that is capable of the needed light output for lamps that were generating between 100 and 1000 watts of light output. In other words, you may not easily be able to find an LED that is bright enough.

Can’t we just install any dimmable LED into a house lighting fixture?  

Next, we have the issues that ALL dimmable LEDs are NOT created equal. In this blog, we discuss the difference between forward phase (leading) and reverse phase (trailing) dimmers and how that can affect dimmable LEDs. Needless to say, MOST LEDs are reverse phase dimming capable and MOST commercial dimming systems are forward phase dimming capable. This is not a problem when you use incandescent lamps, because they are forward phase dimming capable.

When you are trying to choose a replacement LED lamp (dimmable) for an existing House Lighting Fixture, you MUST make sure that it is a forward phase dimming capable LED (if you have a brand new dimming system, some of them can do reverse phase dimming, as well, however, existing dimmer systems are almost always forward phase dimming capable). If you choose the wrong replacement LED lamp, it will not work properly and will either not dim at all OR it will have flickering. Please see this blog for more information on this topic.

The Solution Is To Use Forward Phase Dimmable LED lamps

Simple solution, make sure that you purchase forward phase dimmable replacement LED lamps for your existing commercial dimming systems. If you are not sure if your dimming system is forward phase or reverse phase dimming capable, please feel free to contact us at Knight Sound & Lighting Inc. through our general e-mail at info@goknight.com or by calling our office at 866-457-5937. The easiest rule is if your system is more than 5 years old (2013 or earlier), it is almost certainly forward phase dimming. If the system is less than 5 years old (2013 or later), then you have about a 25 percent chance of reverse phase dimming capability. This does NOT mean that it is reverse phase dimming, just that it may have it part of the system or be converted into reverse phase dimming with additional parts and/or programming of the system.

We have worked with numerous facilities around the world in finding forward phase dimmable replacement LED lamps that will work with their existing commercial dimmers and control systems. These replacement LED lamps are NOT cheap, because they are using better LED drivers that are capable of processing the forward phase dimming capability of the system. In addition, these lamps are NOT mass produced like common LED lamps for your house -- but they do work well.

  • Replacement-dimmable LED for PAR30, PAR38, and A19 lamps

We have found that the US Version of the Renesola LED replacement lamps work very well with forward phase dimmers. These LED replacement lamps come in a variety of shapes, sizes, wattages, and beam spreads.  Click the image to learn more about the Renesola PAR38:

Renesola PAR38

We can also provide additional types of these lamps. Please contact our office at info@goknight.com or through our toll free line at 866-457-5937.

We recommend that you purchase enough “test lamps” for one (1) complete lighting load. Any incandescent lamp on the load can fool you into thinking that a dimmer will work successfully with an LED replacement lamp. Once you have tested one (1) complete lighting load with the Renesola LED replacement lamp and it works well, then purchase the remaining lamps. Please note that we do offer discounts if you contact us directly for volume purchases.

  • Replacement-dimmable LED lamps for 250 through 1000 watt lamps

We have found that the Canto US Retro (Classic and Passive) works very well with forward phase dimming systems. The advantage of the Canto US Retro is that it is typically a direct replacement for the existing incandescent lamp and you do not have to replace the entire lighting fixture (there are some limitations, because of the LED driver, but in most cases, this will work fine). The Canto US Retro replacement LED lamp can be used with a multitude of different sockets (candelabra, mini-candelabra, bare leads, mogul, and the list goes on and on). In addition, the Canto US Retro comes in a variety of different wattage outputs and beam spreads, which allows for different heights of house lighting fixtures and beam spread of each lighting fixture. More information can be found at Canto US Retro (Classic and Passive).  Here is an example of a popular Canto US Retro:

Canto US Retro 500

  • Replacement-PAR56 and PAR64 dimmable LED lamps

This is probably the most difficult category for direct replacement dimmable LED lamps with forward phase dimming capability. However, we have found some solutions for this category as well. This includes the Canto US Retro LED, listed above in this blog. The Canto US Retro (Classic or Passive) can be retrofitted with a frame that will allow it to be used in a PAR56 or PAR64 lighting fixture. Please click the image above for more info about Canto US.

Another solution is the OnSite LED, which is currently available in the PAR64 and will soon be available in the PAR56 size as well. The OnSite LED is a forward phase dimming capable LED and will fit into almost all PAR64 (and soon PAR56) lighting fixtures. This lighting fixture has a lot of punch and works very well with a warm white color. More information can be found here OnSite PAR64 LED or by clicking the image, below:

OnSite PAR64 LED

  • Replacement-lamp using the LED ArcLamp System

The Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC) ArcLamp LED based lamp system is an LED based replacement lamp system that is capable of using the facilities’ existing lighting fixtures and load wiring for the new LED lamps. The beauty of this system is that it provides for the “architectural” lamps that are seen by the public and need to be pleasing to the eye. They come in many different shapes and sizes and are commonly used on wall sconces, chandeliers, and other high profile lighting fixtures in a venue. This product reduces the overall power consumption of the lighting fixtures that they replace (the incandescent lamps) by up to 90 percent (a large energy savings!). More information about the ETC ArcLamp can be found by clicking the image, below:

ETC Arc LEDs

This system does require the addition of an ETC ArcMesh Transmitter, which wirelessly transmits the dimming instructions to the ArcLamps. The ArcMesh Transmitters are placed around your facility and connect to a DMX control system. Note: This may require the addition of DMX control to your system. DMX is typically found in theatre systems. More information about the ETC ArcMesh Transmitter can be found by clicking the image, below:

ETC ArcMesh Transmitter

Another solution is to replace the entire lighting fixture

Some people will tell you to just replace the entire House Lighting Fixture with a new house lighting fixture and then run DMX or 0-10v control wires to all of the lighting fixtures. This is a plausible solution, but it involves a lot of time and material to have an electrician and/or staff member remove the existing house lighting fixtures, install the new house lighting fixtures, and then possibly add control wires to the entire system. However, there are some advantages to this option, such as the ability to control color (RGBAW) and color temperature (think yellow in color to blue white in color). 

  • New House Lighting Fixtures-Chauvet Pro Ovation House Lighting Fixtures

An example would be the Chauvet Pro Ovation H265WW-this is a warm white LED lighting output (in white or black housing), which can be found at the following website link: 

Chauvet PRO Ovation H-265WW

Another replacement LED based lighting fixture would be the Chauvet Pro Ovation H-605FC, which provides the same amazing LED output, but has Red, Green, Blue, and Amber LED emitters for a spectrum of different colors. More information about the Chauvet H-605FC can be found by clicking the image, below (Note: available in a color housing of white or black and DMX controllable): 

Chauvet PRO Ovation H-605FC

  • New House Lighting Fixtures-Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC) ArcSystem-3 models

Finally, we have the Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC) ArcSystem replacement LED lighting fixtures, which include the Four Cell PendantPro Multi-Cell and other options in various configurations. Each one of these lighting fixtures serves a different purpose and provide warm white LED based output.

More information about the popular ETC Four Cell Pendant LED Lighting Fixture can be clicking the image below:

ETC Pro Four-Cell Pendant

More information about the ETC Pro Multi-Cell LED Lighting Fixture can be found by clicking the image below:

ETC Arc Pro Multi-Cell 8

These ETC Arc units REQUIRE the addition of an ETC ArcMesh Transmitter, which wirelessly transmits the dimming instructions to the ArcLamps. The ArcMesh Transmitters are placed around your facility and connect to a DMX control system. Note: This may require the addition of DMX control to your system. DMX is typically found in theatre systems. More information about the ETC ArcMesh Transmitter can be found by clicking the image below:

ETC ArcMesh Transmitter

Thank you for reading this blog about the replacement LED lamps and/or LED based house lighting fixtures for your facility. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at info@goknight.com or call us at 866-457-5937.