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Church Lighting

Ken Coker

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Dear All


You can all look up "Hubris".

Having been so rude about technologies for worship, He/She has decided to get His/Her own back and have my local church consult me about lighting.


Essentially, this is a no frills project. Currently ten linear halogens light the body of the church, with a number of PAR38s lighting various features - altar, pulpit.


My scheme would be to replace the linear halogens with:




and replace the PAR 38s with something like:




Visibility is the key here; mainly an elderly congregation who like to be able to read the hymn books.

I'd welcome any views on this, especially any info on suitable PAR38 lamps. As ever, it all has to cost nothing and there is no chance EVER that this church will host the more "charismatic evangelist" type services - so no moving lights, blah, blah, blah....


Simon: do I need to check that the PCC have run this past the Diocese?


Many thanks




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Having done various jobs for churches, and I am assuming from your post that this church is CofE, there is a fine line dividing those jobs which need to be run past the dioscesan office (and would end up needing a faculty) and those which don't. As far as I am aware, a staightforward maintenance type replacement of existing lighting does not require a faculty, but a revamping of the lighting, say to include some 'profile' type lanterns to highlight, for example, the communion table/altar (low church vs high church terminology :) ) would probably require a faculty.

Hope this helps, but a quick call to the dioscesan office is probably the best way to get a definitive answer.


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Those screwfix units are almost identical to ones we have in the theatre store for when we have Jehovah's Witness conventions. Visibility is their major request - they need to be able to read - so we have lots of those that can be suspended from the auditorium ceiling. The only downside is that they are quite stark - the effect is very hard - we'd always meant to try softening them a bit, but neer got around to it. I'd suggest that if the am is to increase levels, they will do the job quite nicely.
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I have seen a recent church install using par 64s actually fitted flush into the ceiling (fitted with 500watt bulbs) The guy who designed the install is called Andrew Dixon, His website is here www.adlight.co.uk If you look at his gallery you can see some of his work. I'd talk to him as someone who has a vast experience in these type of projects.



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MH is quite a cold light, might appear a bit stark. White SON is warmer in appearance:




Price comparable,low cost sodium fitting plus white son lamp:




Multi 5mm white LEDs have some issues with lumen maintenance, for preference high power LED based lamps will give you better real lifespan and some choice of beam as well. Most of these are retrofit for MR16 sized halogens though. Lumidrives, RS stocks them, amongst others:




It isnt going to be straight `just as bright` drop in for 38 though, cool white LED and MH floods probably mean have to turn up heating for coffin dodging congregation because of perceived cold atmosphere....

Warm white LED is available but efficiency is typically half that of cool white.

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Have you considered Ceramic Metal Halide (CDMT), which gives a rather warmer light than the standard metal halide?


We had 34 150W CDMT lamps fitted at St Mary's Scarborough (Norman Parish Church) just under 3 years ago as a direct replacement for 500W linear halogen floods. The lamp housing is a converted 1000W halogen flood while the control gear is in a separate box which in our case can be concealed out of sight. The fittings cost about £170 each including the lamp so budget may be an issue but we have been delighted with them and so far we haven't had to replace any.


We contacted the Diocesan Advisory Committee who confirmed that as the new fittings were similar in appearance to the old ones there was no need for a faculty.


We've also replaced our PAR38s with Megaman code BR0620T CFL PAR38 (or something very similar). The light output is slightly less 'warm' than the incandescent variety but nobody seems to have noticed yet so I haven't mentioned it!


I'm not sure that I can obtain any useful photographs but if you feel like a trip to sunny Scarborough then you can have a look at the results.


Having lurked for months and obtained all sorts of useful information from the BR I felt it was time to make a contribution - hope it's useful!




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With regards to a Faculty, it's worth checking with the Diocese, since (unfortunately) each one takes a slightly different approach.


Try contacting the DAC secretary, and she will put you in touch with the person who advises on lighting (really!).


It's worth emphasing to the DAC that the equipment will not change the visual impact, that existing cabling will be reused, that the installation will be more efficient, use less power and will work at a lower temperature (thus reducing the fire risk).


Overall, they are concerned with maintaining the aesthetics of the building. Once they are reassured about this, they may well allow the work to proceed without a faculty. However, there may be instances where they (or the church's insurers) ask for any electrical work to be carried out by a NICEIC or ECA accredited electrician.


With regards to the fixtures themselves, I'm sure that the church will appear more welcoming with a "warmer" light - but you know that anyway!



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