Layout room lighting

Anyone have experience with either halogen track lighting or dimmable
fluorescents for their layout room? I need some help.
I'm suffering analysis paralysis with this decision. I have an
approximately 14 x 20 foot room with a drop ceiling around 88" and
expect to build a layout around 50-55". The room is in the basement and
runs 65-75F without heating or cooling.
I found a pretty deal on track fixtures with 35W PAR20 wide flood bulbs
at a spacing of 24". This would require around 30 lamps and total about
$450. A lot of money to have good color rendering and day to night
effects.
I'm not sure if this is too much or not enough coverage or if 1000W of
halogens will turn the room into a sauna even with AC.
Dimmable fluorescents would solve the heat and spacing issues, but maybe
not be any cheaper. The little that I've found online indicates the
ballasts are pretty pricey - at least $40 apiece. Any more info on these?
I'd really like to be able go day to night. Is it worth it?
Suggestions? Alternatives?
Reply to
Todd Carter
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I plan to use Halogen track lighting for my layout currently under construction.
I have used dimmable fluorescents for a special project where I worked, the ballasts are expensive $$ and personally I would not use this method, because it would not give me the effect I want.
Using halogen track lighting with the wide array of fixtures and wattages available, offers the opportunity to create some dramatic lighting effects. After all, the latout is a stage and the trains are the show.
Larry Madson
Reply to
larry madson
I've been fine-tuning my planned lighting, now that some basement remodeling is moving closer to reality (but so slowly!!! :-(
Anyway, I've decided to go with 4-lamp T8 8' fluorescents around the entire layout, using T8 lamps. To get good color rendering, I want color temps (warmness or coolness) at 3500k and 4100k, and color rendering index (CRI) of at least 85. An incandescent is 100, an average T12 fluorsecent is about 40. The T8 fixtures have electronic ballasts (quieter, no flicker, instart start) and use lamps a bit smaller than normal T12s, so they tuck up behind the valance better.
To supplement that, I putting a few par20 recessed cans, and will probably either add 'gels' or use blue par20 lamps for night.
And finally, for towns and sunset effects, I want to add a number of par20 DJ or theatrical par fixtures, that can accept colored 'gels', so I can get low-angle orange for sunset, and a nice pale yellow/pale blue mix when I want it. Here's some links for all this stuff, and MUCH searching:
Home Depot carries the T8 fixtures, in both 2-lamp 4' units, and 4-lamp 8' units. Both fixtures use 4' lamps, which I find easier to handle than 8' lamps.
Home Depot also carries simple par20 recessed cans.
Good lamps are little harder to find. I finally found a commercial site that you can order from, if you purchase by the case (12 lamps or so) - goodmart.com. Bulbs.com is good also.
Here's one of several available T8 4' lamps, this w/85 CRI and 4100k color temp:
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One of several places selling par20 theatre fixtures:
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- Steven
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Reply to
Steven Haworth
Hi Todd,
Gerry Cornwell presented an excellent clinic at the Maple Leaf 2003 NMRA National convention in Toronto this past summer. Gerry does lighting design as a profession. His clinic revolved around an approach which used both task/spot lights as well as fluorescents with an emphasis on using proper color temperature and color rendering index. With this dual approach good effect can be achieved by using the fluorescents for overall lighting with the spots used to highlight/feature key scenes on the layout and at the same time keep the temperatures of the room and operating costs reasonable. I will send you a PDF file of the handout you will find useful. Good luck Lynn
Reply to
Lynn Caron
Wow! What great data in this thread on color temperatures and rendering.
Let me throw in viewpoints on two or three other aspects.
Operation cost -- IIRC "regular" florescents are going to be cheaper to operate in terms of power cost. Certainly halogens are cheaper than "regular" spot light / flood light / incandescent bulbs, but regular florescents wills still be the cheapest to power. Power costs are only going to go up, up, up, in the long term.
Wiring costs -- I looked into the "dimmable florescents" application about two years ago in connection with a house remodel. I found then that I needed at least three wire, and in some cases 4 wire from each dimmer to each controlled dimmable florescent. Because this was a remodel to old construction, and I did not want (well, she who must be obeyed did not want) quite that much wall board rip off and replacement on several walls and ceilings, we did not go that route.
But look carefully at the total cost on dimmable florescents -- you have to figure in higher wiring costs, plus the fixture costs, plus the dimmer costs. As I understand it you have a "drop ceiling" which to me means the metal grid things into which 2 x 4 tile panels are dropped. If that is the case at least the ceiling part of your wiring is relatively simple. If you can bring everything down one wall and mount all you dimmer controllers there, then even if you have wallboard up on that wall, the pull off and re cover of a small area makes the control installation mechanically easy.
How many separate controllable light circuits will you need? Not "power really" but how many areas that you need to control and dim separately?
Supply Power --
What about power supply? Separate sub panel in the room, with four or six 20 amp circuits in it. One for railroad power, one or two depending upon local code and room size for wall plug power for tools, etc.; two for ceiling lighting; one for through the wall room air conditioner for cooling to supplement whole house AC if the lamp heat is too high?
Just ideas to think about.
Reply to
Jim McLaughlin
One little secret that isn't mentioned often enough is that it isn't how bright the layout room is but how evenly it is lit. The eye can adapt a long ways in both brightness and in color temp. Incadescent lights are best for taking pictures with as you can adapt the photo to the color temp without problems while flourscent lamps do provide more light per watt of input power but have the problem of being a bunch of individual colors of light rather than a continous sprecturm of light and this tends to mess up the color balance of film and imager. As to brightness, the other rooms in the house are definitely illuminated at night by lights that can't even begin to compare to the light from the sun in the daytime yet the room looks fine at night. You also notice a change of color when moving between rooms lit by different lighting systems but in a few moments, the light color seems right to you. -- Bob May Losing weight is easy! If you ever want to lose weight, eat and drink less. Works evevery time it is tried!
Reply to
Bob May
You're going to have problems with colour changes! I have a similar dilemma with my own layout room (15'x12')- my present thoughts are for a mix of white fluorescents and incandescents and to dim/switch off the fluorescents first and then dim the incandescents.
I just hope there's an expert reading as I'm unhappy with the present single 100watt bulb at the center of the room!
Regards, Greg.P.
Reply to
Gregory Procter
Hi Todd,
Among other useful advices consider my humble one :). Speaking of dimmable fluorescents, I would go for three separate colours: red, blue and green (available from the same mfgs that produce white colours). Then using just three dimmers you can achieve almost 'true color' effect, easily making orange for sunset, dark blue for night or yellowish bright white for daytime. I did this kind of installation for my living room 2 years ago and my family now even calls it 'mood generator' for its versatility :) Maybe you will also want some halogen spots to simulate direct sunlight, I think a couple of dimmable 300 W floodlights will do the job (these models are pretty cheap, unlike low-voltage track systems). In terms of wiring, prepare to use 4 wires for each dimmable fluorescent channel and maybe you will also need a manufacturer-specific dimming device (for 1-10V dimming input you can use simple 100 k potentiometer though).
Best regards, SunCheek (Lighting Designer & also Train Hobbyist, Moscow, Russia)
You wrote on Tue, 18 Nov 2003 23:56:53 -0600:
TC> I'm suffering analysis paralysis with this decision. I have an TC> approximately 14 x 20 foot room with a drop ceiling around 88" and TC> expect to build a layout around 50-55". The room is in the basement TC> and runs 65-75F without heating or cooling. TC> I found a pretty deal on track fixtures with 35W PAR20 wide flood bulbs TC> at a spacing of 24". This would require around 30 lamps and total TC> about $450. A lot of money to have good color rendering and day to TC> night effects.
TC> I'm not sure if this is too much or not enough coverage or if 1000W of TC> halogens will turn the room into a sauna even with AC.
TC> Dimmable fluorescents would solve the heat and spacing issues, but TC> maybe not be any cheaper. The little that I've found online indicates TC> the ballasts are pretty pricey - at least $40 apiece. Any more info on TC> these?
With best regards, Sun Cheek. E-mail: snipped-for-privacy@No.spam.suncheek.tk
Reply to
Sun Cheek
Hi Todd,
Among other useful advices consider my humble one :). Speaking of dimmable fluorescents, I would go for three separate colours: red, blue and green (available from the same mfgs that produce white colours). Then using just three dimmers you can achieve almost 'true color' effect, easily making orange for sunset, dark blue for night or yellowish bright white for daytime. I did this kind of installation for my living room 2 years ago and my family now even calls it 'mood generator' for its versatility :) Maybe you will also want some halogen spots to simulate direct sunlight, I think a couple of dimmable 300 W floodlights will do the job (these models are pretty cheap, unlike low-voltage track systems). In terms of wiring, prepare to use 4 wires for each dimmable fluorescent channel and maybe you will also need a manufacturer-specific dimming device (for 1-10V dimming input you can use simple 100 k potentiometer though). And yes one more thing. Instead of standard 18W fluo bulbs think of 36W ones. They will require a bit more job to fit into the ceiling, but they are about 20% more efficient and provide more uniform illumination.
Best regards, SunCheek (Lighting Designer & also Train Hobbyist, Moscow, Russia)
You wrote on Tue, 18 Nov 2003 23:56:53 -0600:
TC> I'm suffering analysis paralysis with this decision. I have an TC> approximately 14 x 20 foot room with a drop ceiling around 88" and TC> expect to build a layout around 50-55". The room is in the basement TC> and runs 65-75F without heating or cooling. TC> I found a pretty deal on track fixtures with 35W PAR20 wide flood bulbs TC> at a spacing of 24". This would require around 30 lamps and total TC> about $450. A lot of money to have good color rendering and day to TC> night effects.
TC> I'm not sure if this is too much or not enough coverage or if 1000W of TC> halogens will turn the room into a sauna even with AC.
TC> Dimmable fluorescents would solve the heat and spacing issues, but TC> maybe not be any cheaper. The little that I've found online indicates TC> the ballasts are pretty pricey - at least $40 apiece. Any more info on TC> these?
With best regards, Sun Cheek. E-mail: snipped-for-privacy@No.spam.suncheek.tk
Reply to
Sun Cheek
Hi Todd,
Among other useful advices consider my humble one :). Speaking of dimmable fluorescents, I would go for three separate colours: red, blue and green (available from the same mfgs that produce white colours). Then using just three dimmers you can achieve almost 'true color' effect, easily making orange for sunset, dark blue for night or yellowish bright white for daytime. I did this kind of installation for my living room 2 years ago and my family now even calls it 'mood generator' for its versatility :) Maybe you will also want some halogen spots to simulate direct sunlight, I think a couple of dimmable 300 W floodlights will do the job (these models are pretty cheap, unlike low-voltage track systems). In terms of wiring, prepare to use 4 wires for each dimmable fluorescent channel and maybe you will also need a manufacturer-specific dimming device (for 1-10V dimming input you can use simple 100 k potentiometer though). And yes one more thing. Instead of standard 18W fluo bulbs think of 36W ones. They will require a bit more job to fit into the ceiling, but they are about 20% more efficient and provide more uniform illumination.
Best regards, SunCheek (Lighting Designer & also Train Hobbyist, Moscow, Russia)
P.S. To All: sorry if posting these possibly several times, I simply didn't see any previous posts appear in the NG.
Reply to
Sun Cheek
Are these coloured fluorescents simply white ones with coloured glass tubes or is the gas inside different which makes them glow a different colour? BTW what do you design lighting for in your business? theatre? retail store displays?
Lynn
sunlight, I
fluorescent
though).
Reply to
Lynn Caron
The difference in the flourscents is the phosphors that are used to generate the light. All of them use mercury gas to generate an UV light which excites the phosphors.
-- Bob May Losing weight is easy! If you ever want to lose weight, eat and drink less. Works evevery time it is tried!
Reply to
Bob May
I do believe that they have stopped using mercury due to pollution factors
-Hudson
Reply to
Hudson Leighton
Usually coloured versions use only one 'band' phosphor from the white versions. So when switched off they look white, but when lit they are coloured. Although there are also coloured-bulb versions on the market, I would recommend to use white looking lamps, as they produce enough light to intermix and create True Color effect. On your second question I can say I work for Lighting company which does lighting designs of almost any kind (except stage). That can be stores, offices, private interiors and extreriors. Formerly I worked for Philips Lighting Eastern Europe, doing exactly the same kind of things.
With best regards, Sun Cheek. E-mail: snipped-for-privacy@No.spam.suncheek.tk
"Lynn Caron" ÓÏÏÂÝÉÌ/ÓÏÏÂÝÉÌÁ × ÎÏ×ÏÓÔÑÈ ÓÌÅÄÕÀÝÅÅ: news:yQqvb.83553$ snipped-for-privacy@news04.bloor.is.net.cable.rogers.com...
Reply to
Sun Cheek
You can often meet on the market red and yellow fluorescents which are in fact white versions covered with tight coloured film. They tend to produce significantly less light though (e.g. 60 lumen for red lamp iso 3000-3200 lumen of white version, same power).
With best regards, Sun Cheek. E-mail: snipped-for-privacy@No.spam.suncheek.tk
"Bob May" ÓÏÏÂÝÉÌ/ÓÏÏÂÝÉÌÁ × ÎÏ×ÏÓÔÑÈ ÓÌÅÄÕÀÝÅÅ: news: snipped-for-privacy@news-1.nethere.net...
Reply to
Sun Cheek
On Tue, 18 Nov 2003 23:56:53 -0600, Todd Carter shared this with the world:
I am installing several track light strips and mounting MR-16 Halogen heads on them. I plan on using 20W WFL (wide flood) bulbs in most of the fixtures, with MFL (medium flood) in a few. If my ceiling height was greater, the spot bulbs might be useful, but at only 8 feet spot bulbs would create too small a "hot spot" on the layout.
The pattern (beam angle) for the different MR-16 bulbs is available here:
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Kent
Reply to
Kent Ashton
Think about work lighting. When you are working on the layout, and drop something on the floor, you want good bright lighting that reaches everywhere. Once you get the place running, and want to set the lighting on the layout, think about having a fascia above the track with incandecents hidden behind the fascia. This will create bright, eye attracting lighting of your track, trains and scenery, while the over all room lighting of the aisles is a bit dimmer. Think about replacement bulb availability into the future. A lot of the newer fluorescent designs are limited production runs by a single manufacturer. I can remember having to replace the entire kitchen ceiling fixture a few years ago 'cause the special fluorescent tube it used was no longer available. You have a drop ceiling. Was it me, I'd put plenty of ordinary 4 tube fluorescent fixtures in the drop ceiling and flick them all on for working on the layout. Then for operating sessions, I'd turn off most of the ceiling fluorescents, and turn on incandescents hidden behind the fascia. Fluorescents give a harsh, bluish light that is unflattering to skin tones, and weak in red, so that red objects (e.g. boxcars) don't look well. There are various phosphor mixes, some of which are claimed to look better than others. I've never seen any fluorescent give good color rendition, either by eye or by color film. The "bed and bath" tubes are a little less ugly that the "Cool White" ones, but the improvement isn't all that much.
David Starr
Reply to
David J. Starr
Todd, 30 lamps seems like a lot for a 380 sqft room. I have used track lighting in the past and found that it produced way too much heat for me to be comfortable. In my present layout room I have one halogen set up to highlight a city scene. For the rest of the lighting I am using regular four bulb fluorescent fixtures in a drop ceiling. I used the inexpensive fixtures, and if I could go back and change my decision I would buy the new electronic ballast fixtures to reduce the buzz sound.
I recommend you set up a couple of halogen lights and see if the heat is distracting to you before you go forward with 30 of them. Different bulbs have different light diffusion patterns. If you use a wide spread "flood" bulb instead of a spot type bulb you can probably space them about 42 inches apart. That is assuming the lights are near ceiling height and you want even illumination at your 50" layout height.
If you are determined to avoid fluorescents a better choice might be just plain old incandescent bulbs. The simplest of fixtures could be hidden behind a valence and then you would have dimming ability, less heat than halogens and much lower cost. Light quality of course would be a compromise.
Paul McGraw
Reply to
Paul McGraw
Take a look at this site for low wattage incandescents behind a dropped valance:
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It's also one of the great layout sites in general.
Reply to
Steve Caple
Indeed, it is - thanks for posting the link, Steve.
All the best,
Mark.
Reply to
Mark Newton

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