Stage Lighting

LED Lighting Tips

So you’re going to be using LED par cans, let me give you some helpful tips and notes. These are a few things that I’ve learned through trial and error.

  1. Don’t light primary faces. LED provides a rather unnatural light. The only time I use LED to light faces is during a worship set when I want to take notice away from the band…but even then I put a regular par can on the worship leader’s face so they can connect properly.
  2. Be aware that people with epilepsy will have a problem with these lights. One of our drummers had to start wearing sunglasses while he played to avoid getting headaches and we’ve had one or two problems with someone feeling dizzy during the worship set. This could be a result of the video backgrounds we use too…but just be aware it may cause some problems for you. The solution: either have a place that isn’t overwhelming with LED lights or just limit the LED lighting in the room…perhaps don’t have the lights off.
  3. LED par cans don’t work that well through fog. They are usually a little less bright than traditional par cans and they are less focussed–since their light comes from multiple bulbs.
  4. You’ll potentially have problems with your camera equipment and LED lighting because some sort of cycles happen. I’ve seen this when we record at 60i frames…when we get to 30p or 25p we don’t have the same issues. Check out an example of the problems we have here:
    It seems to be the use of red that causes the camera to do this…it doesn’t do it for green and blue as badly.
  5. Don’t point the lights toward the audience. Since the LED cans mix red, green, and blue, it won’t have the desired color appearance to the audience. They will just see a bunch of little lights pointed at them. Plus they can be pretty annoying to look at.
Origins of Stages Sunny Side Up

49 responses to “LED Lighting Tips”

  1. Colle Brown says:

    I have started workingwith a church that has an extremely low budget. As a theatre director who has had a large budget at previous jobs I have found your sight very helpful.

  2. Colle Brown says:

    Your site has been ery helpful. I recently started working with a church that has a tremendous vision, leadership but limited budget. Thank you for your suggestions

  3. Steveo says:

    If you're having issues with people feeling dizzy or tv and video not looking right try stepping up to some flicker free LED's. It'll be more expensive. Elation makes a lot of different LED fixtures that are flicker free. As well as Martin and other high end pro fixtures. The lower end LED's like most ADJ and Chauvet fixtures are not flicker free, meaning the LEDs are actually flickering very fast when on.

    • Neville says:

      I think that all LED manufacturers make a cheaper range that work OK but the old rule of you'll get what you pay for applies. We use Chauvet Colorado 2 fixtures here. No problems at all as descibed. These are the pro end of Chauvet and are very good. We generally keep away from Par Can LEDs. They are cheap but also bulky and just dont perform quite well enough. In saying that some of the new Chauvet Par cans coming out with Tri-LED's are quite good. All colours are produced through the one LED and this solves problems of seeing multiple colours when you look up at the head when running. LED's are developing very fast so its well worth keeping up with these development. We might soon find all out old type light fittings gathering dust.

      • Good point. I wrote the article originally with small churches in mind…meaning they were more likely to pick up the cheaper lot. But that's definitely true…you get what you pay for. :)

    • Duane Dodge says:

      the Chauvet colorado1 tri tour’s are flicker free and are very bright. they also use optics to eliminate the 3 color shadows. We just purchased 8 of them for our church and they are awesome.

  4. jimmy hudson says:

    We have just a few LED splash lights from Chauvet. Our youth room has a huge black wall behind it and really the LED lights disappear. What kinds of materials work best to reflect those lights?

  5. I work a theater, and we recently bought a bunch of PAR Cans that are run with LEDs It is always fun to play with new technology, so play we have.

  6. Craig Marcum says:

    I want to wash about a 20ft wall and thought about LED but concerned what to buy that will be bright enough. Any suggestions? Will be on light fabric.

    • dukedejong says:

      Craig, there are so many options out there it will probably be hard to narrow it down through a site like this. The general guidelines I can give are:

      1) If you're trying to shoot a long distance (20 ft is long enough), a wide flood fixture will likely wash out before reaching the top. Look for fixtures with a medium to small degree of beam (15-25 degrees).
      2) The longer your throw, the brighter you'll want your LED's to be. For a 20 foot throw I would make sure you use a fixture with at least 1 watt LED's.
      3) The more ambient light you have in your room, the brighter you'll want your LED's to be. If you have windows or general washing white light, you'll want brighter lights. If you're shooting 20 ft in a room with lot's of light, you'll want a fixture that can punch through that, all the way to the top.

      Hope that helps some. If you want to talk more, please feel free to call or email me.
      Cell – 319.721.5729
      Email –


  7. michael nelson says:

    ADJ Propar 56 CWWW with white and amber LEDs for 3000k-6000k will allow your stage to connect with the audience. 3300k is similar to daylight or traditional lighting. Also, the ADJ Flat Par Tri 7 or Flat par Tri 18 offer flicker free Tri LEDs with a wide 25 degree wash starting at $200 a can. Every room is different good luck finding your perfect solution

  8. Dwayne Smail says:

    Like a post above, I serve in a church in South Africa that has a great vision and leadership but very low budget. I’m in charge of media, sound and the whole stage.

    We are in the process of renovating the building and I have 6 months to transform the stage. It’s fairly large (about 100ft wall to wall and 30 ft front to back. It’s my first time here and am hoping to get ideas and assistance as to how to get the most out of a modest budget. I have no stage design experience whatsoever. Where do I start? What do I need?

    Can anybody help me?

  9. In regard to the flicker on video, I had the same problem, but noticed that if I run each color at 100% it doesn’t do it, which really limits color options. Seems to have something to do with them being dimmed. I have Chauvet ColorStrips and Pars.

  10. Galanthias says:

    The reason your LED lights were causing your drummer headaches was because they were a low grade LED fixture. Elation OPTI Tri Par 64 is probably the cheapest LED fixture that I would be willing to go with.

  11. Galanthias says:

    Same thing with flicker on video, it is because they are a low grade LED. Again, is the cheapest LED I would go with.

  12. Steve C says:

    I personally havent had problems with led par cans through fog or haze, however i do have to agree that the light output isnt as natural as standard parcans can be. however, as with all lighting states, used at correct levels problems like this can be overted with a simple bit of bare foh, not as to flood that stage but to just fill the gaps and give that natural feel.

  13. I have noticed that on some of the cheaper fixtures, if you keep the intensity channel at full and only dim the color channels sometimes you get less flicker.

  14. I have noticed that on some of the cheaper fixtures, using only the color channels to dim and leaving the intensity at full stops a lot of the flickering

  15. Sorry for the double post:)

  16. Jared King says:

    I am hoping someone here can help us at our church. We are looking for stage lighting for our aditorium and there is so much out there I have no idea what to get. We are operating on a $10,000 budget. Our church seats about 300 and we have a large stage. We have 12 standard par cans right now and are wanting to go with LEDs. Are building is dual purpose right now, by that I mean is that we have a full blown youth service at mid week there but also a contempory service every Sunday in the same area. That being said we are wanting dual purpose lights. Something exciting for the youth but also able to use it on sunday for a service. We think the LEDs will give us more flexibility with colors and being able to change them more quickly, also being able to give some cool effects for youth night. Is there anything out there that is good quality for that kind of money? Board lights and all?

    • Sharp says:

      Jared- I wish I had seen your post earlier. Our church has 7 different venues with lighting and sound and video in everyone.Each one has dual purpose design and is flexible enough to change as needed. Our lighting systems have cost us from $500 to $150,000. If you or anyone else needs help pleases email me. I’m always working on new designs and equipment, especially on LED lighting systems.

      • JayR says:


        Is this offer still open? I need help. My church lighting is a mixture of house lights, 4 standard par cans on dmx and some stand alone led’s for color. Yes, Frankenstein. We live-stream, so lighting the stage for that is paramount. Secondary is, color accent for worship service and lastly is more dynamic control for youth services. I’m working with about a 3k or 4k budget to start. Any advice? I can send a picture of the stage.

        • Robert White says:


          We are remodeling a small youth room with a tiny stage. The room is approx. 25×35. The stage is only 8×20. I was planning on trying to light the stage with 5x chauvet colorstrips, 2x led par 64 chauvet rgba and one wash panel. I was thinking I would have three strips as back lighting and all the rest in front of the stage… But I know nothing about lighting. The ceiling is about 9/10 feet tall. What would you suggest? Can I pull off decent lighting with those lights in a room like that? What color would be best on the stage for the walls(I was originally thinking of having a black curtain covering the entire back wall, but now I’m wondering if that would be a horrible idea… please help! :)

      • Ralph Smith says:

        Please let me know if you are available to talk briefly. Where is your church located as I would like to see what you have done, if possible.
        Ralph 714-206-1040

      • randall says:

        I need help selecting lighting for a stage that will be in a gymnasium with really high ceiling (prob. 35′ at the highest point). The room size is a little longer and wider than a official basketball court.

        not sure what do get, but need to make a decision by next week.

  17. Wow, I’m surprised no one’s mentioned frost gels or barndoors! :-) I use the gels constantly in all of our LED fixtures at our church (Bethel Church of San Jose, CA), and the doors in our stage alcoves.

    Rosco #119 (R119) frost gel sheets are your best friend when using LED fixtures in any room or environment, especially if those fixtures come with gel frames. Allows for a softer wash/spread and limits the audience/stage crew from seeing the individual LED’s themselves.

    Also, if your LED fixtures do indeed have gel frame slots and you want to limit where the light spreads, barndoors are a great compliment.

    The Rosco gel sheets are inexpensive and can be bought at your local lighting or theatrical supplier. Barndoors can be found at the same place and are also inexpensive. :-)

  18. ayanfe( D'srs ) says:

    great contributions all the way.

  19. Ed Callahan says:

    Needing some help with stage & lighting design. We are completely mobile, and are moving from a gym w/a stage to a larger gym with just an open floor. Therefore, can anyone help with a plot for a stage design and lighting design? Also, because we are in a school, we have to go with all LED fixtures…very little electrical power to work with. We load in and out in 26′ trailers. Help:) All staging, trussing, lighting, etc. will have to load in and out each Sunday. You can reach me at 636-692-8680 or Thanks!

  20. Ryan says:

    I have a technical question. Our church was able to acquire some inexpensive DMX controllable LED spot lights and we are so excited to start using them. However, we can’t turn them up to full intensity without them flickering like a strobe light. I’m still pretty new at this… Any thoughts…?

  21. Steve G says:

    Anyone tried the LED flood lights? They come in warm or cool white such as at

    Figure out some barn doors as some have done, and these look like they would be great!

  22. Josh Clevenger says:

    I’m looking to replace our old par 64 can lights to light our stage with LED lights. I don’t have a budget at all. I can’t seem to find LED par 64 lighting anywhere. Can someone help?

  23. Eric says:

    So you guys seem to really know what your talking about, we just installed some newer LEDs at our church on the advice/suggestion of a local distributor. We got ADJ Ligh bars for the floors and walls and were supposed to get ADJ PARs to replace our old incadesant pars for the ceiling lighting. Problem i he ran into issues with his distributor for the ceiling PAR’s and suggested a replacement (from China, can’t even recall the name). So we figured we would give it a shot, now that they are up, we’ve had nothing but issues, problem we have is half way through the service they go into a sort of “demo” mode where they just pretty much do what they want, change color, strobe, whatever. They do it in sync, so we have that going for us. But out of all the curious things is the ADJ light bars don’t follow suit. When the lights freak out we have to go and hit the breaker, as they don’t respond vis the computer (running XPress512). We’v had the guy in a few times, and of course can’t duplicate it while hes onyl stadning around ofr an hour or so, it seems to happen when the lights have been on for 2-3 hours, so he thinks its heat related.

    Any ideas? You think this is heat related? I’ve been to several other churches, much larger, with mayn more lights (we have 22) without an issue..any suggestions would be most welcome!!! HELP!!!

    BTW we are trying to get the distributor to swap these out for the ADJ PAR we were supposed to get originally, but honestly I think we are hosed!

  24. Landon says:

    What would you recommend to get shadows out of the speakers eyes? I’m thinking about getting some lighting strips that go on the bottom front of the stage? Your thoughts? Also, are there any led par cans you do recommend to help light up a speaker?

    • Jay says:


      If this is a church application, I’m not sure how you’ll get away with adding any lighting to the bottom front of the platform seeing as this is (I’m assuming) your altar/prayer area. That’s how they do it on regular stages though. My recommendation is to bring some lighting in from the flanks at a 45 degree horizontally and about 35 degree vertically if possible. This will not knock out the shadows without blinding your speaker as well as give him dimension. (Don’t forget back lighting. Even a small amount will make a difference.) For LED white light applications make sure you go with RGBW to get an actual white. RGB will give you a blue white (bleh).

      Hope that helps.

  25. duke says:


  26. Mary Parker says:

    Has anyone tried installing these candelabra bulbs in their church? Does the light look appropriate?

  27. Edward says:


    I want design our church with better lighting, We going to buy Par Led (12pcs) and Controller.

    Would you give any guidance to choose suitable Par Led and Controller ?

    Thank you

  28. Edward says:

    and what is the different between Dimmer and Controller ?

    • Jay says:

      There are quite a few things to consider when moving to LED lighting. Too many to list here. It’s a great move but plan it out well and do your research before spending money or you’ll waste too much money on trial and error.

      I suggest, have a vision of the finished product. What you want ultimately want to have. Break it up into phases by cost, need or logistics. This way you won’t be rebuilding the infrastructure each time you have a new idea or obtain more funding.

      I’m writing from personal experience.

      Dimmer- dims lights. Usually reserved for dumb lighting (regular white lights).

      Controller- Typically runs on DMX protocol and has a means to control all aspects of led or smart lights; such as color changing, fading, programmed effects and even pan/tilt on moving heads.

      I strongly suggest you explore DMX computer software as an eventual way of controlling your lights.

      I hope that helps.


  29. There is now technology that helps eliminate these issues. 5 in 1 fixtures that are flicker free work really well and also give the natural light of a standard par can. Chauvet makes a great light called the ovation that is just like a leko but is LED. It’s a little pricey but it is ideal for using less energy and less maintenance. Would love to help anyone who needs it!

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