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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Changing House Lights (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Changing House Lights
Steve R Pike
Film Handler

Posts: 47
From: Tewkesbury
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 09-23-2017 04:37 AM      Profile for Steve R Pike   Email Steve R Pike   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi

I have recently started to look at replacing blown bulbs in our auditorium's house lighting.

Traditionally our house lights were changed with a plunger stick on a pole (yes, seriously!) but this tool was lost several years ago. So I've made one a replacement!

Our auditorium is a raked auditorium and so the house lights towards the rear were easy to change (just a couple of steps on a step ladder and the shorter 'plunger on a stick' pole did the trick).

The lights (nicknamed 'pots' because they look like little pots coming out of the ceiling) look like this, and they take a PAR38 bulb:

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So, my issue is as we go further down towards the stage/screen when the distance between floor and ceiling is largest.

Here is a pic of the distance:

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Some of the 'pots' have disappeared up into the suspended roof (with no access) - something about the design of them when they were installed back in the 1970's, the builders didn't fix them in place!

Does anyone have any tricks on how to successfully change these bulbs - I've been searching for a extra long light bulb changing pole, or a telescopic pole, but I've not had much success.

We are a charitable cinema and so this needs to be done very very cheaply, so preferably an solution that can be done 'in-house'

I would be grateful if anyone has a similar type of auditorium setup?

(Also, does anyone know what the name is of this style of light fitting ... pretty sure the official name is not 'pot')

Thanks [Smile]

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

Posts: 3680
From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
Registered: Aug 2009


 - posted 09-23-2017 07:19 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
First thing would be to replace them with good LED bulbs so you don't have to change them so often.

I did that about 18 months ago (when I finally found a type that would work with our dimmer), and since then, not a single bulb of our 44 failed.

No, you can't expect that from cheap surplus product.

When we need to reach our similar high ceiling for cleaning, we use a long telescope fishing rod. You can get them for very little money. Usually the first few segments are too weak for anything useful (except maybe for a feather duster), but you can simply take them out until you get to the more rigid parts, still leaving enough length. Our 12m rod cost us 20€ or so.

- Carsten

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

Posts: 2524
From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2012


 - posted 09-23-2017 10:14 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree with Carsten, you should replace all the lights with LEDs and make sure they play nice with your dimmer or replace the dimmer. Since you're going with all LEDs, you can most likely go for a low amperage version, those dimmers are usually relatively cheap.

As for the light bulb replacement: The last time I tried one of those wonky light bulb changers I gave up and used an old-school ladder. Make sure you find one that fits into your aisles and always have somebody hold the ladder.

The nice thing about swapping your bulbs with LEDs is that you should not have to worry about blown bulbs for a while.

If your auditorium is higher than the highest ladder, then I'm pretty sure any pole-contraption won't work either.

Ah, and yes, stay away from those cheap Chinese Ali-Express LEDs. I've tried a bunch of those and found multiple issues. They usually never match the specified color temperature, some of them run awfully hot on the transformer side and many of them die prematurely. Also, some of them might claim they're "dimmable", but in most cases their dimming curve is so awkward, you need a custom programmable, digital dimmer with high resolution to get a smooth dimming curve out of them. Also, if one of those suckers fails, you'll often have a hard time to find an exact replacement.

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Frank Cox
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1943
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 09-23-2017 11:26 AM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The lights in my auditorium very rarely quit. My theory is that it's because they are on a dimmer so they gently and slowly run up from zero to whatever, and they never run at 100% output.

Anyway, on the rare occasions that one of them does go out it was always a terrible ordeal to get them changed. In fact, I even hired someone to change them for me on a few occasions.

So a year or so back I decided that I'm tired of this and had an electrician move the lights from the ceiling to the side walls. Now I can change them by standing on a reasonable-length ladder instead of something that's so long and wobbly that I'm afraid that I'll fall off and break my neck. Safety first and all that, not to mention that I've always been terrified of heights.

It took a bit of getting used to after I had the lights moved -- it changed the configuration of the shadows in the auditorium when I was cleaning up.

And those lights that you have really are called "pot lights" or "recessed fixtures".

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6410
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 09-23-2017 04:13 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Soft starting is a good idea because it lessens thermal shock to the filament but you also need to make sure that the lamp gets hot enough for the Halogen Cycle inside the glass envelope to properly work.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7966
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 09-23-2017 05:46 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Can you rent or borrow a Genie lift? That is probably the easiest option if the ceiling fixtures are above the aisles and higher than you can reach with a ladder. If they are above seats, the Genie lift won't help, of course (unless you want to remove seats in order to change light bulbs).

If you don't like the look of LEDs or can't afford them, there are long-life incandesent lamps available that have stronger filaments. The downside is that they tend to look a bit yellower than regular bulbs when lit.

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Chris Markiewicz
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 203
From: Oakland, CA
Registered: Aug 2002


 - posted 09-23-2017 06:35 PM      Profile for Chris Markiewicz   Email Chris Markiewicz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If you do decide to go to LEDs, see if you can rent scaffolding to get at the fixtures properly. You can use the opportunity to repair the fixtures and clean the ventilation grilles in the ceiling at the same time. Perhaps you can work a deal with a rental outfit to give you a break on the cost in return for program credit. I worked in non-profit for many years and I know how hard it is to accomplish anything with limited resources!

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Buck Wilson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 855
From: St. Joseph MO, USA
Registered: Sep 2010


 - posted 09-24-2017 12:04 AM      Profile for Buck Wilson   Email Buck Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We use a very nice Unger brand telescoping pole with bulb changer at the end. It's got 3 sections. It's either 24' or 30' fully extended. Long enough to get the very front bulbs without even extending it fully. It's a pain in the neck(literally) standing with the pole and looking straight up and playing "thread the needle" from yards away, but it beats a scissor lift rental in cost and convenience. I enjoy doing it...... sometimes. Haha. I'd recommend it.

It's an older version of this:

https://www.amazon.com/Unger-OptiLoc-Section-Telescopic-ErgoTec/dp/B01LXSRVVN/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506229325&sr=8-2&keywords=unger+24%27

We have the problem of them collapsing into the ceiling too. No solution here on that. Bunch of garbage if you ask me. Cheap garbage.

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9442
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 09-25-2017 01:32 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
One problem with the pole is if the bulb breaks off and shorts the dimmer one blown triac
I have little use for the basic lighting being LED as no matter how done it doesn't dim nicely
I regulary use raw LED modules in coves and sconces that only require a slight amount of dimming driving them off a 12v TXMR

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Steve R Pike
Film Handler

Posts: 47
From: Tewkesbury
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 11-03-2017 01:09 PM      Profile for Steve R Pike   Email Steve R Pike   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi All

Apologies for the delay - it's been quite a busy few weeks!

Thanks to everyone for their replies, we managed to get quite a few of them back on. In the end for our mid-section we used the Genie lift used for focusing our stage ligts (it was just tall enough to reach the fittings pushed up).

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I also purchased a Mr Long Arm pole and floodlight changer fitting. Does the trick [Smile]

We managed to get over 75% of the houselights back on - the ones that are not on were due to either the fitting was actually not working anymore (they're 42 years old!), or the fitting had gone up into the ceiling and we couldn't find it! Some of them literally had gone.

Unfortunatly our dimmer system is pretty old (and the company is no longer around .... UK sites: does anyone have a Theskpak Major dimmer system?!) and I don't think LED bulbs will work quite as well - I used standard PAR38's just to get some illumination back but I may buy an LED PAR38 just to test it [Smile]

All the ushers and cleaners have given a massive thank you as they can now see the aisles to clean up!! [Smile]

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6410
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 11-03-2017 01:58 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Try replacing the house lights in this auditorium! [Eek!]

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The lamps under the balcony ceiling can be reached with an extension pole or by using a Little Giant stepladder or a Genie Lift.

Almost every other lamp can be changed from the catwalks by using a shepherd's crook to hook the fixture and pull it toward you until a helper can reach it to replace the lamp.

However, those two halogen fixtures at the very top and center of the picture don't have catwalks close enough to reach with a shepherd's crook. They are about six feet upstage of the balcony rail! In order to replace them you have to take an extension ladder up on the balcony, lean it over the balcony rail until it rests on those white cross-beams.

Those beams are not structural. They are strictly aesthetic/architectural, just to visually define the ceiling space. They are hollow, only made from formed sheet metal. They are pretty flimsy! There is no way a person could walk or crawl out onto them.

So... Here you are, balanced on an almost fully-elongated extension ladder, hanging six feet out, over the balcony, with nothing but fifty feet of air between you and the concrete deck, below.

You have to grab the light with one hand, hanging onto the ladder for dear life with the other. Then you use an unbent coat hanger to pull the fixture and hook it to the ladder so that you can use both hands to change the light.

The beams, above, are rickety and shake like crazy. If you aren't steady, the ladder can bounce like a trampoline and there is no place where you can attach a safety harness!

I tried it once. I got half way up the ladder and noped-out!
I was like "Fuck it! Let them burn out!" until my boss complained.

Luckily, one of the guys from Campus Maintenance is part Apache Indian. He scampered up the ladder like it was nothing! I couldn't even watch! I just went to my office and waited till he was done so I could help him carry the ladder back down to the storage room.

Changing those house lights was not my idea of fun! [Wink]

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Frank Cox
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1943
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 11-03-2017 03:25 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm now wondering about the fire hazard aspect of light fixtures that have vanished into the ceiling that way. I can't imagine how any fire or electrical inspector would pass an installation like that.

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Jesse Crooks
Film Handler

Posts: 12
From: Doylestown, PA, United States
Registered: Mar 2016


 - posted 11-04-2017 04:38 PM      Profile for Jesse Crooks     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We've haven't had much luck finding LEDs that agree with our Extron dimmers. What bulbs are you all using?

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Dave Macaulay
Film God

Posts: 2080
From: Toronto, Canada
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 11-04-2017 06:09 PM      Profile for Dave Macaulay   Email Dave Macaulay   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've used TCP (Technical Consumer Products) dimmable LED lamps a lot. These have the best dimming capability of any LED lamp I've tried. Not equal to tungsten, but extremely much better than any retail lamp I tried. Possibly there are lamps that dim OK at the home despot now, I stopped looking when I found TCP. Available through electrical supply shops, there's a dealer locator on their site.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6900
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 11-04-2017 07:40 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I used Feit Electric ones with a Kelmar dimmer. Out of 46 of them installed, one went flickery after a few months, but AFAIK the others are still all OK after close to four years.

Some tweaking to the low point of the dimmer was needed to ensure that they went totally out, but after that, no problems.

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