LED lighting has come a long way in a few short years and is steadily becoming more and more commonplace in theatres of all sizes. The benefits are quite significant. Theatres can see a potential energy savings of upwards of eighty percent due to LEDs drawing less power and giving off significantly less heat. With no lamps to change and minimal maintenance needed, labor and material costs are also inherently less too. LEDs on the market are packed with lots of features previously not found on legacy incandescent fixtures. Most notably, the ability to be able to change the color of the light coming out of the fixture by manipulating the LEDs and not having to rely on a mechanical process such as a color wheel or physical gel can allow users a near infinite amount of color choices out of only one fixture, allowing you to do more with less fixtures!
The main drawback to LEDs are typically their cost. High quality LEDs can cost between $1500.00-$2000.00 each; significantly higher than most non led fixtures on the market. If you try and buy lower end units, you run the risk of quality control and reliability issues. Another unexpected cost that a lot of people overlook is that LEDs work differently than incandescent fixtures and may require additional infrastructure upgrades to the theatre. These include converting power from dimmable to non-dim power and running DMX control cable throughout the space. A lot of times these upgrades can cost more than the physical costs of the LEDs themselves.
Like all upgrade projects it is imperative to do your research. It is highly recommended that you call a reputable theatrical lighting integrator to come in and complete a thorough survey of your space so that you can understand exactly what needs to be done before getting underway. Ask to demo fixtures so that you see what they can do, making sure that the light is exactly what you need to fit into your system of lighting. Finally, if budget is an issue, break packages down into manageable chucks so that you can add to the system later on down the road without having to redo work. If done right most spaces, see positive benefits right away and can usually break even on their outlay within three to five years; making LEDs a great overall investment for any space!