In my last article I talked about adding color washes to your stage or platform to enhance the mood and emotion of your services. An ideal way to achieve color washes is through LED fixtures.
LED fixtures have taken a major leap forward over the last few years, with many new manufacturers popping up, and prices ranging from tens of dollars to thousands of dollars. Let's take a look at LED fixtures and talk a little about what makes a good wash fixture.
When searching the web for LED fixtures, you'll find a lot of fixtures that can cost as little at $70 for doing color washes, and it's not uncommon for churches to invest in these because of the cost. However, in many cases this can be a poor idea. One local church I've done some work with bought probably 20 of this type of fixture, and within a year several were falling apart and no longer functioning. Now, about four years later, very few (if any) are working. At the time, they spent about $150 each for these fixtures, and now both that money and the fixtures are gone. As with many things, you tend to get what you pay for in LED lighting. Spend little, get little.
Another frequent issue is the brightness and coverage area of inexpensive LED fixtures. Low-cost fixtures, while appearing to be dazzling when you look directly into the fixture, actually aren't very bright, and you'd need quite a lot of them to cover a small area with any level of brightness, especially when trying to throw a lot of white light. Also, because of the lower brightness, the design the beams ot not spread out very much, so they cover a very small area in order to make the light seem brighter.
Inexpensive fixtures also don't dim well.
Frequently, they jump from 0 to about 20%, and then dim upwards from there. If you want your LED lighting to match how your traditional lighting dims, a cheap fixture isn't going to give you that. While it might not be as important in a worship service, especially if you're not taking them to black during the service, if you do any drama, it can be an issue.
Inexpensive LED fixtures tend to flicker on video cameras.
They look fine in person, but when you record or stream your services, they appear to be flickering.
All of this is to say, do some research before spending money in low-cost fixtures. At the time of this writing, if you're spending less than a few hundred dollars per fixture, there's a decent chance it's a poor stewardship decision. And color wash fixtures that have high brightness, excellent color, dim perfectly and look great on video are frequently around a thousand dollars per fixture. You might not need to spend that much to achieve your goals, but go into the purchase of LED fixtures with your eyes wide open and make sure you're buying something with the lifespan, brightness, and color quality to meet both your needs and your budget.