My Questions During Research
Booth lighting has been something I’ve wanted to do after my first indoor art fair show, but didn’t accomplish it until a few years later.
I quickly found out that there is more to booth lighting than simply a light bulb in a socket. During my “investigative” time, I looked at how others were lighting their booth displays.
How did the lighting appear on the product?
Were the fixtures noticeable?
Was the lighting effective?
Were the lights relatively easy to install?
Have the lights added heat to the booth?
Do the lights effect the color within the booth?
How many lights were being utilized?
Did the lights, and placement thereof, effect the displayed product?
With my primary concern for lighting directed to indoor shows, I added another caveat. The lights needed to be supported by the Pro Panels (the panels that I am now using) in an attractive manner. Over the winter a few years ago, after evaluating my research, I purchased the full booth lighting system from Pro Panels. This included the track bars, support bars, fixtures and LED lights.
Flexibility for Inside or Outside Shows
When I ordered the lights, my plan was to use the lights for indoor shows, though I also wanted the flexibility to use them for outside shows if desired. Consequently, I purchased the 9-light system. In reality, I’ve used the lights for only one outdoor show thus far, and otherwise exclusively for inside shows.
The translucent top of my Trimline canopy, even on overcast days, allows plenty of light into the booth illuminating the prints quite well. Also, at least how I had it set up on that one outdoor show, the arch of the light support bars rubbed against the underside of the canopy. In the interest of preventing damage to the canopy, I’ve simply opted to forgo lighting the booth outside. (This decision also saves set-up and tear-down time).
Indoor Shows - Very Beneficial
The lights have been absolutely beneficial for indoor shows. Even with high overhead lighting in some of the “convention hall” type venues, the lighting was just “dark”. Adding the booth lighting dramatically increased the viewing pleasure of the prints.
My inside booth configuration generally consists of two 10 foot sections with a 38″ side panel at each end and in the middle. To light this effectively, I use eight lights with two track bars (each supporting four LED lights).
The outside two LEDs are pointed at their respective 38″ side panel. The center two LED lights split the 10 foot back wall into thirds with their beam. Each side of the booth is similarly lit.
Part of the equation that attracted me to the Pro Panel lighting system was their discussion of employing a battery as an energy source for the lights. With the battery, inside or out, I could always have lights without paying for electricity.
My quest for the “perfect” battery system took a little longer. Without going into exhaustive detail, suffice it to say the first battery deep cycle battery I purchased didn’t last six hours with 8 lights. With the show still in progress, the auto-alert low voltage indicated started beeping from the inverter. I was now in the dark!
By my second indoor show, with a new marine battery, lighting improved dramatically.
That second show with the lights was an indoor, 3-day event. The lights worked perfectly the first full day. My mistake that evening was not fully recharging the battery and opting for a slow charge overnight. The lights went out the second day late in the afternoon. The battery hadn’t been fully charged.
That evening I placed the battery on a rapid charge, which held perfectly the third day. However, fearing that the battery may not have had a full charge, I reduced the number of lights to six, just to be safe!
It should be noted the lights are turned on at the start of the show, remaining in that state for the full duration of the show (or until the power runs out!).
In between shows, as well as monthly when not in use, I charge the battery with a very slow rate. I’ve been told the slow rate, even though it will take all day (and into the night sometimes) to fully charge the battery, it is better for it. (The charger I have allows for 2 amp slow charge, and 15 amp rapid charge, with a setting dedicated to deep cell batteries).
Overall - Very Pleased
Overall, I’m very pleased with this lighting system.
The LED lights are very efficient from an energy perspective, something that is of importance when operating off the battery. If they emit any heat, I sure don’t notice it. Pro Panel offered two different color temperatures – I chose the 5000K.
Although my LED lights are dimmable, I tried an in-line dimmer switch for each track without much success. They both worked great for probably 30 minutes, then I started noticing the lights flickering. I removed the dimmer switches, the LEDs went to full power, and all flickering disappeared. I no longer use the dimmer switch and just leave the LEDs at full power.
My Booth Lighting Equipment
And if you are curious, below is my current booth lighting equipment.
Light System (All obtainable from Pro Panel)
Nine LED, dimmable, 14W, 5000K lights
Nine black track light fixtures
Three four-foot black tracks (where the light fixtures fit into) with 15 foot cords
Three pair light bar (supports the tracks)
EverStart Deep-cell 29DC marine battery, 122 amp hours (Walmart)
Plastic battery case (Walmart)
Radio Shack 350W inverter with USB port (model #2200086 – Radio Shack)
Leviton Table-top dimmer switch (model # TBL03), for use with dimmable LED lights (Home Depot) - no longer used
Quick Notes :
The Radio Shack 350W inverter comes with strong battery clamps already installed, very useful connecting to the battery. The battery case cover attaches over the top with the clamps secured in place on the battery.
The inverter comes with two outlets and one USB charging port. Although not yet utilized, the USB port offers the option of charging my phone and ipad if needed. Each of the two track bars plugs into an outlet. Outdoor shows requiring three track bars, I use a short extension cord with built-in outlets at its end.
Indoor shows, my booth set-up is two 10 foot sections with the two 3 foot walls and middle divider. In this configuration, I use two tracks (one per 10 ft section) with 4 lights each. The couple of outdoor shows I tried lights, I used three tracks (one for each of the three walls), each equipped with 3 LED lights. I no longer use lights outdoors.
As mentioned, the first battery I tried (Marine/RV deep cell SRM-24) did not have the capacity needed. I found the need to go to the 29DC listed above. When using any battery, it is important to remember that there is a limited supply of electricity available. If I think the battery doesn’t have the capacity for a full day show, I’ll reduce the number of lights from eight to six (indoor show). In general, though I prefer eight lights and fully charged battery.