Nightclub and Bar Lighting Products
I thought it might be useful to offer a list all the kinds of lighting products and lighting related products you might consider for your bar or nightclub. So the following list covers everything from types of light controller or RGB controller to recessed lights. Despite my best efforts I am sure that I probably missed something here or there—be sure to tell me about it and I will do what I can to add it in.
Lights hanging from the ceiling:
- Pendant Lights: Lights that literally hang from the ceiling like chandeliers but that come in a variety of shapes or sizes are great for bars and lounges with high ceilings or for placing over tables for an intimate feel.
- Chandeliers: I give chandeliers a special place when it comes to nightclubs and bars because of they are a nightclub classic. They are basically just pendants but they can definitely add some extra class to a place if used properly. See our post on chandeliers here: The Nightclub Lighting Chandelier for Your Bar or Nightclub.
- Recessed Lighting: Ceiling lights that are inside the ceiling with only the glass cover showing along the roof are great for low ceilings.
Dance Floor and Stage Lighting Products:
Dance floor and stage lighting get their own category since there are so many choices involved in this kind of lighting equipment:
- Can Lights and Spot Lights: Can lights—including par lights—are the classic form of dance floor or stage lighting. They are inside of cans which help direct the light and some of them can get fairly hot. Also, like all these lights, they can be mounted on trusses and attached to an intelligent light controller for best effects. For more on can lights see our article:Can Lights for Your Bar or Nightclub. Spot lights are also useful lighting your live acts if you have a stage.
- Strobes: For the classic freeze frame effects, nothing beats strobes. But they are also a must for synchronizing flashes with the beat of the music. Again, an intelligent light controller or DMX is a must. For more on strobes see our post: Night Club Pro Guide to Strobe Lights for Your Club or Disco .
- Flood Lights: As with can lights and strobes, flood lights are also expected in dance clubs these days. All lights should be coordinated with an RGB controller and programmed for specific sets of effects. (Flood lights are also useful out in your parking lots to making sure they are safe for your clients when they leave your establishment.)
- Black Lights: One of the most popular forms of lighting for raves, these kinds of lights will make lighting colors glow—an often overlooked lighting effect.
- Lasers and Eliminator Lights: Ideally these beams of light are wired through a light controller so that they can create specific effects, but even if they are just oscillating or circling they can be quite effective. Eliminator lights are especially popular in combination with foggers (see below). Eliminator lights, also work particularly well from walls where they can add drama through shadow play and silhouettes.
- Moonflowers: Moonflower lights, which project patterns on the dance floor are also a must (especially if you do not have an LED light panel dance floor). Rigged through an RGB controller and either programmed through a DMX controller or set with an intelligent light controller, these can add an extra layer of effects to the dance club experience.
- LED Floor Panels: Just as the LED light panel can be used on the ceiling so too can it be used on the floor. Although one of the most popular of lighting products for dance floors, the cost is often prohibitive for club owners. See our article: LED Lighting for Your Bar or Nightclub .
- LED Matrix Walls: Similarly, a LED matrix wall, that can create various programmed effects on the walls of your dance club, is a cool feature. Everything from the stereo equalizer wall to the pong effect can be programmed with a bit of knowledge and the right computer software. (See below.)
- Light Panel/LED Ceiling Lighting: An LED ceiling lets you turn the overhead space into a light show as well. With each light panel being programmable, this is the perfect choice for those dance clubs that want to be on the cutting edge of the nightclub experience. Beware though! Light panel ceilings are expensive to buy, install and maintain.
- LED DJ Stand: You can also light up the DJ stand itself, to make it a more prominent feature of your dance floor. See our post about DJ lighting here:DJ Lighting.
Table Top Lights
- Candles: Candles in small glass containers can create a soft, flickering effect that makes tables and booths into intimate spaces for lovers and small groups of friends.
- Lamps: Though space requirement make pendant lighting or recessed lights preferable for lighting booths and tables, sometimes strategically placed lamps can create the kind of familiar comfort that you are looking for in a lounge or sitting room sort of a space.
Sitting Room Lighting
- Stands: Lights on stands are, generally speaking not the kind of lighting equipment that you usually want because of space and safety requirement; you generally want to avoid taking up any extra floor space and you also want to avoid having anything that can be knocked over. But if you have an unusual space, placing lights on stands may work for you.
- LED Tables: A recent fad in lighting equipment has been to have LED tables that react to the touch, changing pattern depending on how you come into contact with them. Because of the expense, I don’t see this becoming a must for club owner but perhaps as a special feature for a particular room, this might be a nice touch.
- LED Cubes: Similarly, LED light cubes—which can either double as drink stands or chairs, are an interesting way to arrange the décor of your establishment.
- Fire Place: Actual fireplaces don’t actually provide much light, but for decorative effects, placing candles in a fireplace or having a faux fireplace with electrical lighting can add interest or a lodge like feel to a space.
- Christmas Lights: Many clubs also find hitching twinkling Christmas style lights (the same you place on your tree or hang on your house) as an inexpensive way to decorate interiors. If your bar or lounge has a homey feel this can be a solution, but can also create an unintended tackiness in other kinds of establishments.
- Wall Sconces: Usually creating a soft pleasant glow, wall sconces are a great space saving way to light your establishment because they don’t take up any valuable floor real estate. In addition, they can help to highlight wall décor in a classy, eye-catching manner.
- Strip Lights: These tiny rows of lights are good for decorations but also have practical uses. For safety, make sure you place strip lights on stairs so the steps are clearly visible in the dark, and along hallways leading to exits and bathrooms.
- Recessed Lights: Recessed lights work equally well underneath steps for safety and decorative purposes as they do from ceilings.
Bar Counter Lighting Equipment
- Display Lighting: Placing recessed lights behind the bottles on the back wall of the bar well can create attractive displays of your liquor choices, the light playfully dancing against the pigmented tints of bottles. The combination of liquid reflections are quite effective at creating an attractive atmosphere for your customers.
- Underbar Lighting: Another pleasant effect is to have recessed lights light the leg space beneath the bar on the customer side. (In fact, one step further is to make the bar itself into a light display either with LEDs or neon. If you are going for a space-age feel, this is definitely a potential choice.
You need to display your signs for your customers through either shining a light on them or making them from lights. Here are some of the possibilities:
- Neon Safety Signs: It is important that Exit signs are clearly displayed so customers can find their way to out quickly and efficiently in case of an emergency.
- Neon Advertisements Sign: Neon signs in windows or hanging outside of your business attractively displaying the name of your neighborhood bar can be a good way of drawing the attention of passersby.
- Programmable LED Lighting Tablets: Of course, anything that can be done in neon can also be done with LED’s. The advantage of LED lighting products is that they are easily programmable, so that you can display your specials menu in lights and then change it the next day, or announce over the entrance which bands or DJ’s are scheduled. More expensive, but definitely the wave of the future as energy costs become more of a concern.
Lighting products are not just the shiny, twinkly stuff for the customers. Your backrooms will also need lights. This for the most part just means fluorescent lighting where the customers do not have access. Bathrooms should also be lit in a clear way to avoid the dingy feeling of hidden dirt and grime.
Outdoor Lighting Products
You also need lights on the outside of your bar or nightclub—such as over your parking lot or lighting your entrance. Having an outdoor eating area can help increase revenues by allowing some daytime business (lit by the cheapest of lighting products, the sun). If you have a German style Biergarten it is expected. For summer nights it is great feature that can be easily lit.
- Flood Lights: You should definitely have flood lights over your parking lots so that customers feel safe walking back to their cars late at night. Lights on dimmers can provide the right light levels to outdoor dining areas as well.
- Tivoli ambient light: Tivoli style lighting products are the way to go for soft ambient light, especially outside of your establishment. These kinds of niche and cove lights can be placed along trees or rails to subtly light a space without intruding into the environment. If you want to create a romantic outdoor atmosphere, this should be your choice in lighting design.
Lighting Related Equipment
There are also a whole host of lighting equipment that controls or effects light without actually producing it.
- DMX Controller: Of course, for controlling lighting effects like the pros you need to have the same equipment as they do. A top notch DMX Controller is a must. See our post: How to Use a DMX Lighting Controller in your Bar or Nightclub .
- DMX Controller Software: To use your computer to create light shows you will need the right software as well. For more information, see our post here:Lighting Software for Your Bar or Nightclub.
- RGB Controller: A sound sensitive RGB Controller can also make your lights react to the music on the dance floor. For those for whom programming is too much hassle, this can be a less techy way to create a dance club experience.
- Dimmers: All nightclub and bar lighting should be attached to dimmers so that you have control of the atmospherics of your establishment. Brightening lights for cleaning or for indicating closing time is a must, as is dimming lights to transition from early evening into a late night party atmosphere.
- Fogger: On dance floors, foggers (fog producing machines) are often combined with eliminator lights to create a jungle like atmosphere.
- Bubble: Similarly bubble machines can add playfulness to a dance club.
- Relays: All of these lighting effects will require relays to get controllers and power to your more remote lights.
- DMX Cables: If you have a DMX controller, it will require its own kind of cable. Not a huge expense but something to keep in mind.
- DMX Adapters: Occasionally slightly different kinds of equipment will require adapters to work together. If you can’t get your DMX to function properly, make sure you don’t need an adapter cable.
- Extension Cords: Power is also an issued, so make sure you have extension cords. Ideally you have your wiring out of sight—but, of course this is not always possible. In addition, you want to make sure that you are capable of generating the power you need in your building before making large purchases of lighting equipment. Always consult with an electrician about power issues before signing your name on the dotted lines of a contract.
- Power Strips: Power strips can help to distribute electricity from a single source, but make sure you don’t short your power line by trying to suck too much juice from it.
- DJ Foot DMX Foot Petals: If you have your deejay doing all the programming without help, you may need a foot petal to help him control effects. For more on deejay lighting equipment, see our article: DJ Lighting .
- Decorative Candle Holders and Wall Sconces: What your wrap your light source in will both effect the quality and intensity of the light and match your décor in different ways. If you look around, you will find literally hundreds of choices when it comes to these features.
- Trusses: These ceiling mounts are what you attach your dance lights to. They should be installed by professionals with an eye to both safety and versatility. Metal is preferred to wood.
- Truss Clamps: Whenever you buy can lights or moonflowers, you want to make sure that you have the right clamps with which to attach your lights to the trusses. Be careful about safety if you mix and match clamp brands and light brands.
- Light Rotation Motors and Oscillaters: Of course, your can lights will not move by themselves. Make sure you can get the motion you would like from your lights by getting the right motors. Ideally you want the motion to be programmable.
That is it for the list then. If I missed anything, be sure to leave a note in the comments and I will be sure to add whatever I missed to the list.
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