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Dimmable Lighting for Movie Theaters

Jun 17, 2022

Movie Theater Lights

Every commercial space designed for public use has its fair share of challenges when it comes to lighting. Movie theaters in particular must meet all sorts of requirements in order to fulfill their lighting’s unique demands. 

Proper lighting design for a cinema venue must take into account guest comfort and safety. Even though most movie-goers don’t pay close attention to the space’s lighting, if the lights are too dim in the lobby, or too bright in the theater, they’ll definitely notice – and this could lead to a less-than-satisfactory experience.  

Careful attention to every small detail must be considered during the lighting’s initial planning phase. To ensure the best possible experience for patrons, and to meet code requirements, it’s important to choose the right light fixtures, along with the most reliable, energy-efficient LED bulbs. Warm-to-cool color temperature range, dimming capabilities, and color-changing options are vital features for today’s top-of-the-line movie theater lights.         

The Best Lighting for Movie Theaters

A modern movie theater complex typically has many areas within its vast space. There’s the lobby, concession counter, hallways, restrooms, and most importantly – the individual theater spaces. Every area has its own unique purpose and requires lighting that meets its functional needs.    

To create lighting that’s well-balanced throughout the entire space, here are some helpful guidelines to follow:

Use varying levels of luminosity

How bright or how dim the lights should be depends on the particular area. While the lobby requires a moderate level of brightness, concession areas should be illuminated much brighter so guests can see snack options, and employees can take orders correctly.

As movie-goers make their way to the theater space, hallways should be a bit dimmer so eyesight can properly adjust from the bright snack bar to the much dimmer theater. Restrooms obviously require the brightest luminosity to ensure everyone’s safety. 

Combine wall sconces with recessed lights

Wall sconces placed throughout the lobby, hallways, and theaters provide well-balanced, ambient lighting. They emit just the right amount of uplight and downlight, creating gentle illumination that’s not too bright or too dim. Wall sconce fixtures are appealing for aesthetic reasons, too. Their one-of-a-kind style can set the mood within the entire space. 

Recessed LED lights strategically placed overhead offer a more direct light source. This can be helpful for guests as they locate theater seats or move around the venue before or after the movie. Recessed LEDs are available in a variety of color temperatures, and feature dimming capabilities, a necessary feature for movie theater lights.             

LED Recessed Dimmable Lighting

When comparing recessed lighting choices, LEDs have significant advantages over fluorescent or metal halide options. Switching to commercial LED recessed lighting can positively impact a movie theater’s long-term operations. Let’s look at the potential benefits:  

Energy savings, budget savings

LEDs use less energy than traditional light sources, including incandescent, fluorescent, and metal halide. Lower energy usage means cheaper utility bills, and more long-term savings, especially if the lights are Energy Star® certified.

Longer lifespans, less maintenance

Recessed LED lights can last up to 50,000 hours, which is much longer than most other types of lighting. This means less time replacing burnt-out bulbs, and much lower maintenance costs. 

Dimming capabilities

With just the flick of a switch, LEDs easily go from super-bright to ultra-dim. This is essential in a theater setting. As the movie plays, lights need to be low. Beforehand and afterwards, theater lights should be turned up brighter so guests can see clearly while walking.     

Movie Theater Lighting Design

In addition to overhead lighting and wall fixtures, movie theaters should also include other kinds of lights within their overall plan. LED rope lighting or miniature LED accent lights provide extra safety when installed along steps, aisleways, and chair backs. During the movie when primary lighting is low, and the theater is dark, these unobtrusive lights allow guests to safely navigate down stairs and corridors if they need a drink refill, or have to use the restroom.     

Emergency lighting and properly placed exit lights are critically important in a movie theater. If there’s a fire, or other serious incident, these lights provide security as movie-goers safely exit the theater. 

Where To Install Dimmable Lighting

From the lobby, to the hallways, almost every area of a cinema complex can benefit from dimmable lighting. The individual theater spaces, however, are where dimmable lights matter the most. Recessed LEDs directly overhead, and LEDs subtly placed around the ceiling’s perimeter should all be controlled by adjustable dimmers. Wall sconces in the theater require dimming capabilities, too, so the space remains dark during the movie.

Many movie theaters host special events. For this reason, dimmable lighting in the lobby and hallways makes perfect sense. The theater can customize the lighting for the type of event, and set the ideal atmosphere for guests, simply by making the lights brighter or dimmer.  

TCP Lighting Experts

If you’re looking to replace or retrofit movie theater lights, TCP is here to help. They are an industry leader and innovator, specializing in the latest LED technology for commercial applications and residential use.

Movie theaters require recessed lights, wall sconce lighting, emergency lighting, pendant lights, and more. TCP’s commercial lighting experts will work with you to find the best lighting options. Ready to get started? Learn more about TCP’s commercial LED lighting solutions.

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