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The Green File / La filière verte > Comment "Green Lighting"

Green Lighting
by Ross Nichol, February 1, 2011

Be Your Own Green Lantern by Going Green in Your Lighting

We think of him as our Green Lantern. A superhero (in the lighting industry) who possesses the power and intellect to make the world a better place. Justin Lang, editor of, discusses the topic of green (energy efficient) light in the live entertainment industry this month. Learn how you can be your own Green Lantern by Going Green in Your Lighting.

Green Lighting

Energy efficiency, it has been a hot topic of discussion (and debate) with the entire lighting community lately. The need to conserve and reduce energy consumption has been fast-tracked by/for everyday consumers with the elimination of incandescent lamps. Not too long ago, the last plant in America to produce consumer incandescent lamps was closed for good.

But how does this impact the entertainment lighting industry? The average American household in the 90's had two, 60-watt incandescent lamps in each room with an average usage of about 1.2 kW of illumination. Compare that to a medium-sized theatrical lighting rig, and a nightly performance would use, at peak, 75 times as much as a single household. Talk about energy consumption! Yeah, we use a bit of energy, but will the entertainment incandescent go the way of the dodo? Not anytime soon.

It's not to say that we as an industry are not trying. In the past 10 years we have seen a few different types of illumination alternatives come into play. The first is fluorescent lighting, where in the film and television world they certainly have a huge role to play as they produce a clean, even field at short distances. This is not the case in the theatrical and live event world. What may work well as an A-lamp replacement at the consumer level just won't make it in most aspects of the entertainment lighting world.

Then there is the LED or Light Emitting Diode. What used to be an indicator light on devices or control panels is evolving and taking on a new life by illuminating rather than indicating. LEDs have seen a huge amount of growth in development, efficiency, and output. It seems that LED technology is taking giant steps each day. What was ho hum yesterday might knock your socks off tomorrow. That might be an overstatement, but that is how quickly LEDs are evolving. LEDs have come a long, long way in just a couple of short years and there are some products out there that are knock-down gorgeous and have great utility. But the question is can they replace a tungsten lamp source? Check back with me tomorrow.

Another product to hit the market in the past few years is the plasma light source. Talk about energy efficiency! A plasma light can produce at least 15 percent more lumen output than its counterpart in tungsten and still uses less than half the energy. Amazing, right? The downside is the cost of development and the added bulk of a power supply for this tic-tac size lamp. I am hugely excited about the possibilities of the plasma lamp source and some manufacturers have brought great products to market using plasma. These products will really give the tungsten lamp a run for its money in the years to come.

Another impressive lamp source recently introduced is the Philips MSD Platinum 5R. This light is based on the Philips MSD technology with a very short arc, reflector and compact design. The amazing part about the lamp is that it uses 150-189 watts of power and can produce over 7500 lumens of light. Again, a couple of manufacturers have already started to use the new Platinum 5R lamp in some lights.

It really is exciting to see manufacturers start to incorporate all of these new light source technologies into products that will help our industry get closer to being green and more energy efficient. But will we see our old workhorse, the tungsten lamp, go away? Personally, I don't think so, at least in the near future. While technology is making huge strides month after month, I feel there still is a bit of ways to go before the tungsten lamp goes the way of the consumer A-lamp. The quality of light from some of these new technologies, for example, doesn't compare to the tungsten lamp. In time, this will change (it has to change!), but when? Check back with me tomorrow.

About Justin Lang

Justin Lang is lead writer and editor of, a premier entertainment lighting and technology blog. Lang, who has over 15 years of experience in the industry working as a salesman for an international lighting company, is also a well-respected freelance designer and photographer in Washington, D.C.
    Re: Green Lighting
    by Robert Hamilton, February 3, 2012
    The last theatre we opened (Aug 2011, Ft. McMurray) had 2/3 of the stage lighting in LED. All of the cyc and backlighting was LED. Side and front lighting still incandescents as LED ellipsoidals are just not quite ready yet for primetime.

    I expect to do a theatre in the next year or two that has

    Radical, eh?

      Re: Green Lighting
      by James McKernan, February 26, 2012
      Nice article, thanks Ross.
      Good luck with that Theatre Rob!

      There are some good power points available to download from the 2012 LDI green day site on this.
      I highly recommend them.
      I am on my mobile otherwise I would send a link, sorry.

      I will be putting out a green agenda request out through Mo very soon, I hope you will both be able to help with CITTs new sustainability commission.

      Also I will try really hard to put the stuff I find on this forum from now on, I have been lax on that.

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