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Lighting 101 // Types of Fixtures


Today we will review the three most common types of lights that are used in church lighting systems, which are conventional, LED, and Moving-Head fixtures.  While this initial post will give you a brief overview of each type, each of the subsequent posts will individually examine these types of fixtures in greater detail. Because each type of lighting fixture is vastly different, we will discuss any special considerations you should have prior to adding to or upgrading your lighting system in those detailed posts.


While conventional fixtures lack the glamour of LED or Moving-Head fixtures, and may seem boring in comparison, they are vitally important. In fact, conventional fixtures are the backbone of any lighting system. Conventional fixtures run off dimmable, DMX controlled power from one of many dimmer types (we will cover dimming options in a future post). Intensity level is the only setting controllable with conventional fixtures. Often called “spots,” “wash” or “stage” lights, the four most common types of conventional fixtures include: PAR, ellipsoidal, fresnel, & border/strip lights.


LED technology has advanced greatly in the last few years, and has become one of the most popular sources of light during a live performance. Traditionally, LED fixtures have been comprised of three RGB (red, green, and blue) diodes as opposed to a traditional lamp with gel inserts. However, as LED technology has continued to progress, LED fixtures now include white and amber diodes (Seen as RGBA and RGBAW) for more accurate color mixing and reproduction, as well as being able to produce more pastel colors. When people refer to LED fixtures, they are most often talking about LED PAR fixtures. Additionally, LED strips have recently become very popular in church set design.


Moving-Head fixtures, when used properly, can be very powerful. They easily add the “WOW!” factor that you see in concerts and TV performances. The flexibility available with moving-head fixtures is irreplaceable. A singular fixture is capable of a multitude of colors, gobos (feaux projection) and up to 360º rotation that can be programmed and utilized to create a dynamic lighting show.


There are a lot of options and types of fixtures from you to choose from.  Hopefully over the course of the next few posts, we can help address some of the questions and concerns you may have.  That way, you’ll be able to make informed decisions on what fixtures to add to your lighting system.  The most important thing is that you get the best solution for you and your church, rather than the lights that you see at the church down the street.  Focus on what God wants to do with your ministry and your church.

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