A Brighter Idea

A Brighter Idea
Retrofitting Your Existing System Cuts Costs, Gives More Light-Level Control

Want to improve your church lighting? Have multiple light levels at your disposal? Reduce your overall lighting costs? Then we’ve got news for you!

In the past, fluorescent lamps have not been amenable to much control, but all that has changed with Ambience, an eight-lamp fixture that regulates light levels at 0, 25, 50, 75 and 100 percent (full-on). Technically, the control is not dimming because this system powers each lamp pair in a simple “onoff ” function when the operator selects a desired light level.

Jim Loughrey, president of Link Lighting and Controls, maker of Ambience, says the net effect is an apparent gradual increase or decrease of light output as each percentage level is addressed. The Link lighting system also is “smart,” he says, because an onboard chip rotates powered lamp pairs at low light levels. This feature keeps lamp life uniform across the eight-lamp fixture.

Individual fixtures may be electronically linked together so that one part of the church may be at a different light level than another.

For example, the chancel area could be at 75 percent or 100 percent while the nave might be set at 25 percent or 50 percent during a sermon or other presentation. These levels can be reversed when the congregation needs to read hymnals. “It’s like getting a theatrical effect with a very efficient and inexpensive system,” Loughrey explains.

Control is made possible with a simple wall-mounted multi-button switch. The operator selects the desired light level percentage and pushes the corresponding button. The controller delivers the command to however many fixtures are on the control circuit, and the light levels are set until another level is selected.

Does this mean churches must abandon their existing fixtures to get control? No. But it does mean they ought to consider retrofitting existing fixtures to be “smarter” setups. “We often find very elegant fixtures that simply need a better and more efficient lighting method,” Loughrey says. “To that end, we can either retrofit existing fixtures or supply new ones to complement church decor.”

How Much Can You Really Save?

Savings depend on a number of variables. As Loughrey explains, if you currently run tungsten lights at full-on with no dimming, your power savings will be significant. “Tungsten lights deliver about 90 percent of their output in heat,” he says. “That leaves only 10 percent for light. Fluorescent lights, by contrast, consume only 20 percent of the power required by tungsten bulbs for the same light output.”

In laymen’s terms, Loughrey says a church can expect to cut lighting power costs by 50 percent, comparing fluorescent to tungsten. Factor in the control capability of the Ambience system, and the savings increase. Illumination also is greater with fluorescents. Evidence suggests a church will get three times the light when comparing tungsten with fluorescents at the same power input.

Pastor Richard H. Strait of Chapel Heights Church in Eau Claire, Wisc., and the Rev. Pam Hiscock of Cedarcrest Church in Bloomington, Minn., say their new lighting systems were well worth the investment. And, they add, their congregations seem to agree. Now worshippers can see their hymnals and on-screen projections all at once. Plus, lighting can be set for dramatic effect, time of day or other parameters. Both Strait and Hiscock say the power savings will help repay the churches’ investments, and the overall appearance of each facility is much brighter than in the dark nights of tungsten lighting.

If all this sounds too easy, try replacing your tungsten lighting with compact fluorescent lamps. Chances are, you’ll see the light.

For more information, call Link Lighting and Controls at 800.522.1196 or log on to www.linkcorporation.com