Tungsten halogen lamps have been used in the theatrical, TV and film lighting industries for more to 50 years, and to some, they still remain the preferred lamp source. With the much-discussed LED revolution, advances in technologies have led to lighting alternatives that are just as bright but lower in wattage and energy consumption and cool and quiet in operation. And while there have been downsides, including a much-higher upfront cost, the benefits have been compelling enough to create a strong shift in demand toward LEDs. These include the costs associated with lamp replacement (including labor) and HVAC cooling along with more expensive power bills. Not Exactly a “Panel”
As its name might suggest, Litepanels first made its mark in the TV and film lighting industry with LED light sources arranged on flat panels.
Litepanels’ Sola 12 LED Fresnel, with a daylight-balanced 5600K LED light source, joins the company’s expanding line of LED fixtures that don’t look like panels at all.
Instead, the Sola 12, and its 3200K LED twin, the Inca 12, both have a size and shape comparable to a traditional 2K tungsten Fresnel, complete with a junior pin for rigging off of the yoke and a four-way, eight-leaf barn door design.
That, however, is where the similarities end. Made from aluminum, composites and with fixed 12-inch clear plastic lenses, the Sola 12 weighs in at about 35 pounds.
And then there’s the custom LED light source, which offers comparable output to a 2K Fresnel, while using less than 346 watts.
With its low power draw, the Sola 12 operates with a simple ICE power cable, the same type used to power most computers. Its efficiency also means that up to six Sola 12s can share a single 20 amp circuit.
The Sola 12 uses the DMX512 protocol and connects via low-cost RJ45 (Ethernet) cables, and the fixture also has localized dimming and focus controls via rotary knobs on the fixture itself.
Beam and Output
Litepanels states that the Sola 12 is comparable in output to a 2K tungsten Fresnel. When put to the test, those expectations are met — and exceeded.
The Sola 12 has a beam angle that ranges from 15 to 54 degrees. When tested against a 2K tungsten, the Sola 12 reveals a tighter, narrow focus with an intense center spot slightly larger than the 2K. When flooded, the Sola 12 again had a larger beam, and considerably more even spread, than the 2K tungsten. To the naked eye, both fixtures seemed to be comparable in total brightness, at either spot or flood.
When locally dimming, the Sola 12 performed as expected. At the low end of the dimming transition — 0 to 10 percent — there seemed to be a slight “bump on,” common among LED fixtures — although it’s also possible that, with a steadier hand on the localized controls or perhaps a programmed DMX fade, that could be minimized.
In terms of personal preferences, I’d also like to see a 0-to-100-percent indication on the localized dimming knob and focus knob. Another inhibiting factor for some might be the Sola 12’s $4,795 list price — although Litepanels makes a pretty good case for a three-year return on investment, which might be even shorter, depending on use.
Litepanels Sola 12
Light in weight, simple controls, even beam spread, comparable output to 2K daylight-balanced Fresnels
Single RJ45 connection for DMX control, no indicator for localized dimming and focus, no pass-through for power.
Weight: 35 lbs.
Size: 10.1” x 11.1” x 15.1”
Power Draw: 346 Watts
Beam Angle: 15-54 degrees
Learn more at litepanels.com
April 2013 IssueRoad Tests