Big Display Planning Guide
First things first...
Lets talk about budget, perhaps the most important factor in starting to plan any large commercial lighting display.
Inevitably the overall visual impact of your display will be heavily influenced by the budget available - but if your budget is limited, that needn't stop you thinking creatively to maximise its effect.
There are always options and alternatives: our outdoor curtain lights are amazing for dramatic impact, and might well be your first choice for lighting up a length of wall or a hedge, but perhaps our lovely icicle lights might help your budget equations! Look at your budget and figure out how to spend it in the most efficient way to create the biggest wow factor. Whether you have been asked to light up a shopping centre, hotel gardens, monument or high street, by following our simple tips and guidelines the minefield that is commercial lighting should hopefully become a lot clearer.
The vast majority of our lights are interconnectable, and can be forked in different directions:
This means you can run many hundreds, even thousands of LED bulbs from a single power source and extend your capacity bit by bit - ideal for parish councils or similar who have a limited budget, but fundraise each year.
Planning: to LED or not to LED?
You will need to give some thought to the type of bulbs you wish to use, normally either LED or filament bulbs are chosen.
LED’s or light emitting diodes as they are more formally known are small lights illuminated by the movement of electrons within a semi-conductor material. In simple terms, little chips of light surrounded normally in silicon which are extremely robust and hardwearing as well as being supremely energy efficient. Compared to their incandescent filamented brothers, LED’s lead the pack in terms of flexibility, lifespan and cost effectiveness.
For some jobs however there will be a requirement for glass filament style bulbs. Old school classic fairy lights will sometimes be specifically requested and are always an option although prove slightly less flexible in design. Obvious draw backs are that they are made of glass which is far more delicate than LED’s, they also cost more to run and have a much shorter lifespan. One advantage of filament lighting is that more light is actually thrown to the surrounding area than with LEDs which have a more limited (approx 120 degrees) arc of light.
Strings, Curtains, Nets, Icicles… which to choose?
There are many styles of indoor and outdoor LED and traditional filament fairy lights available to help light your commercial display in the easiest and most efficient way.
String lights are long lengths of lights, perhaps most reminiscent of the lights you put on your Christmas tree at home. Many LED varieties are connectable sometimes up to 750m powered from one socket which can prove invaluable when your power source is limited or hard to get to. String lights are a great option for decorating large trees either being draped around their foliage or wrapped tightly around the trunk and branches. Available in many colours, functions and in either mains or low voltage.
We have blank cable in 5 and 10 metre increments which are extremely useful when your power source is some distance from where you wish the lighting to start from. These blanks can also be used between strings of lights - great when running from one tree, bush or even building to another.
Curtain Lights are another option. Styled like a curtain, hence the name they usually have a 2m or 3m wide top cable with a number of vertical drops. Various colours and functions are available. This style of light is ideal for covering large areas, perhaps you are looking to cover the frontage of a building, a marquee ceiling or hotel atrium.
Many displays can be created my manipulating the top cable and vertical strings into different positions. Curtain lights are also an excellent way to decorate deciduous trees - with the top cable curled in the crown of the tree, the strings can be led up different branches.
A speedy and sometimes budget friendly solution is to use Net Lights. Available in 2m x 3m sections, this style can simply be draped over bushes and garden foliage to create an eye catching display.
These can also be used to turn a dull wall or hedge into an atmosphere creating backdrop to an event or special occasion.
Icicle Lights, a Christmas best seller. The name says it all, lights that look like dripping icicles. Normally available in 4-6m wide sections with vertical drops of varying lengths to represent icicles these are hugely popular at Christmas time but of course can be used all year round.
LED styles tend to be connectable and hung from guttering outside or stairwells indoors they can produce fantastic results in a very short space of time.
Many of the LED systems you can find will be fully connectable allowing for greater flexibility in installation. Extension cables, splitters, timers, RCD's and flashing units can be used in numerous ways to achieve your desired outcome.
Eye Catching Effects
Create life and movement with melting icicles and sparkling crystals!
I have set my budget, I’ve bought my lights, now how do I install them? This is perhaps a consideration you should make before the purchase of the lights. How you will install your lights may even come into play when setting your budget depending on whether you require any specialist machinery. For many larger displays a cherry picker or scaffolding could be necessary. Many local hire centres around the country have this equipment available. Bear in mind that the equipment will have to be hired twice - once for installation and then again when Christmas is over and the lights come down.
Another consideration will be where your power is coming from. Are you using mains power, generators, wiring into lampposts or council supply. Many forms of commercial lighting comes supplied with a standard UK socket, you may require the services of an electrician depending on the installation. Along with such requirements come the inevitable health and safety constraints. It’s always worth checking in advance whether there are any restrictions or limitations in place in the area of your installation or put in place by the venue, local or parish council. All of our team are knowledgeable about the technical spec of all of our lights, as well as having a good depth of experience in dealing with the requirements of electricians and councils.
The internet is jam packed full of handy guides, tips and tricks on the actual securing of your lights to the structure they are decorating. In our experience the ever faithful cable tie takes a lot of beating. Strong and resilient they are extendable and flexible, easily removable and a key plus point, cheap. S hooks and gutter hooks are invaluable for using to decorating guttering.
It should be kept in mind that LED’s produce no heat so are ideal for use indoors when used with material and voile, filament bulbs can get very warm when left on for a long time.
Storage and Maintenance
Now comes the boring bit, once your lights and decorations have been taken down it's worth taking the time to inspect them for any damage or wear and tear. Doing this now will save alot of time next year.
Any damaged sets should either be repaired or disposed of to save them getting mixed up with any working sets next year.
Once the lights have been checked and carefully coiled they should be kept in a cool dry, dark area that is rodent free.