LED lights are becoming a more frequent solution in households and offices, due to their extremely high rate of energy-saving. This characteristic is one of the main reasons why using them for stage applications made these tiny lights so popular in stage lighting too. Energy saving is especially a crucial issue for smaller stages, where budget is tight, and every penny matters.
Energy-saving is not the only useful characteristic of LED lights, but there are several reasons why any small theatre including school stages should consider using these lights. LED lighting is generally cheap, due to the large amount of imported lights to the UK from East. There are plenty of small, compact solutions which are available and affordable for any stage decoration at schools or for a band or DJ like LED strip lights. This is actually a further advantage: these compact solutions are easily portable, and can be create a variety of effects used thoughtfully.
Unlike other lighting solutions, LED lights are lightweight and emit little heat as well as no UV radiation. These qualities are very practical, because the lights mean less hazard of fire and are healthier for those on stage. It also reduces the number of accidents in the backstage. The main reason behind the low heat emission is the excellent conversion rate of LEDs, turning 90% of energy into light instead of heat. This way these sets of small lights can reach a really high brightness at an extremely low cost.
The characteristic, however, that makes LEDs really popular in stage lighting is the wide range of colours you can create with the so-called RGB technology. By combining the brightness of red, green and blue lights, you can mix them into any colours on a wide spectrum.
With this single tool you can create all sorts of moods and atmospheres on stage; especially if you need soft light. RGB LEDs are perfect for artistic purposes with the many effects you can achieve with them.
White LED lights seem to be less useful for stage purposes at the moment. In this matter technology will have to develop a bit further before a very bright and focused light can be used on stage. Quality solutions already exist, but their price is too high at the moment for smaller theatres. Besides brightness, the colour rendering index (CRI) is not the best for the majority of LEDs. This actually means that white LED lights do not have a full spectrum of colours, and objects may appear very different in their light than in natural light or in tungsten light. This quality also gets better both with the development of the technology and the price you are willing to pay for your LED lights.
Another main advantage of LEDs is the dimmability. These lights can be dimmed even better than an incandescent, and definitely much better than a fluorescent light. Since the technology is PWM (pulse-width-modulation), the lights are switched on and off very quickly. To avoid flickering completely, you need both good quality dimming and good quality lights too. This at the moment is mostly available with LEDs of higher price categories.
Dimming, a wide range of colours, low heat emission, brightness and extremely low consumption of power these characteristics are the winning combination if you want to operate your stage lighting at low cost. One important thing about LED lighting is that its technology develops extremely fast and it is still in its infancy, so functions and quality we lack today might be available tomorrow.