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A Creative Way to Light an Event Tent

The TYLERLIGHT team was privileged to be part of the lighting retrofit and upgrade at the TradeWinds Island Grand Pavilion.

The previous lighting installation was unfortunately giving the client several major issues, and in this post, we will dissect how we were able to upgrade an outdated system with a new, bright, and easy to run lighting system.

The first step was to seek out our client's needs by determine the lighting needs such as brightness, glare issues, as well as weatherproofing and solidifying the system from the elements as this pavilion tent happened to be close to the ocean air.

The existing system had some issues and the functional down lighting used to illuminate the entire floor was RGB LED light, which caused the client to experience extra complexity, as they only needed a bright white light to illuminate the pavilion floor. We decided to replace these "houselights" with our white LED, high efficiency downlights that are dimmable. They new fixtures don't offer a color changing option, but it proved to be a reliable option since they took the complexity away from the client and fulfilled their needs to just illuminate the pavilion. The minor issue was dealing with glare - a blinding effect caused by the wide angle throw of the light cast out from the fixture. This was solved in a pretty unique way by "hiding" the fixtures between the curtain and the actual pavilion ceiling (seen in the next photo). The curtain or ceiling fabric / drape was a thin, white material that diffused the light perfectly, and there was very little light gap between each fixture since the light was not only "hidden" from view once the drape was raised back into position, but was diffused.

tent lighting, LED lighting
Our new lighting fixtures before the fabric was raised

Getting ready to raise the fabric back into position after being cleaned

The timing of the project to install the functional house lighting couldn't have come at a better time since the fabric had to be pulled down to be cleaned, exposing all the roofing structure in which we secured the new house light fixtures to.

In the next photo you can see exactly how well the lighting is diffused with the ceiling fabric drape. In addition to the ceiling fabric being useful to diffuse the light, it also acts as a "cover" that hides the lighting fixtures, so the end look is a clean and well presentable ceiling.

House lighting diffused with the ceiling drapery
Diffused houselights between the ceiling drapes and the roof rafters

To accommodate the clients other request to have a color changing option, since they had this option with the previous system, we decided to separate the functional house white lighting from the color changing lighting system. We installed 12 of the Elation SixPar 300 outdoor rated RGBAUV LED pars down the center of the ceiling of the pavilion. Since these fixtures were exposed - below the ceiling fabric drape - we decided to use white color pars, with white yolks and pipes to hang the lights on. The decision to place these fixtures below the fabric ceiling drape was used so these color changing LED pars can be "aimed" or "directed" at certain areas within the pavilion, depending on the type of event that is taking place.

LED RGB Pars installed to add color to event space
Color LED Pars Used to Add Color for Events

House lights dimmed and the Elation SixPars on in a Lavender Color

The previous system used a computer controlled DMX system to control the colors of the ceiling lighting. This added complexity for the client, so we decided to take a very simple preset system. The product we used was called a Preset 10 from Doug Fleener Designs, which provides a very simple, 10 button panel that makes playing back pre programmed colors and scenes (only used for the Elation SixPar 300s) easy and stress free. The client requested several preset colors, which were then recorded into the Doug Fleenor Preset 10. For example, after programming, all the client needs to do is to touch button "1" for instance, and that will change all the Elation SixPar 300s to red, press button "2" for green, and so on. The unique feature that the Doug Fleenor Preset 10 has is combining settings. So if the client touches buttons "1+2", the red and green settings will come on, resulting in a yellow color. This is similar to a "latch on - latch off" concept.

Doug Fleenor Design Preset 10 Architectural Console
Doug Fleenor Preset 10

For the functional house lighting, we wanted to keep control of that separate on a 0-10volt dimming system. This will allow for added reliability on the important functional lighting in the pavilion. A 0-10volt dimming system are very reliable and have been so for many years, and their simplicity is what led us to control the house lighting or all white lighting - functional lighting - with this system.

Take a look at the following photo to see how well dispersed the functional white lighting is. The fabric draped ceiling certainly provided the needed diffusion (as there are no dark areas between each light fixture) as well as completely concealing the lighting fixture to leave a cleaner appearance.

Final look of the functional house lights on
Wide Angle View of Finished Product (with only the houselights on)

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