Lighting Product Of The Month: Elektralite PaintCan 2.0

The Elektralite PaintCan 2.0 is a recently upgraded color-mixing luminaire for those who only require color-changing capabilities. It also may be the right choice if you want a quality light different from what an LED unit offers. The unit uses a standard tungsten halogen lamp, so its color temperature fits right in with other theatrical lights, and users won't lose light output by having to put a CTO filter on a discharge lamp. It also incorporates an on-board dimmer and DMX control.

What It Does

PaintCan is a non-moving fixture with full CMY color-mixing, zoom, 0 to 100% electronic dimmer, and a separate color wheel with removable interchangeable colors. Norm Wright, vice president of Farmingdale, NY-based Elektralite, a division of Group One Limited, designed the PaintCan and has overseen it from its conception through the 2.0 upgrade. “It is a completely self-contained unit: no color scroller on the front, no dimming to be fed to the fixture, and no changing out of lenses to get different beam angles,” he says. “It is small and lightweight. You can fit six of them on a standard six-lamp bar.”

Version 2.0 of the PaintCan was launched in May 2008. Its highlights include a rotating, bidirectional wheel with removable and interchangeable color filters; intelligent, variable speed fans; more efficient power circuitry; and ETL certification. Its intelligent fan system operates in response to internal temperatures to reduce noise levels. The fan can also be manually overridden and set to high, low, or auto. “It's a small point, but pretty important, that the PaintCan runs very cool,” says Wright. “You can put your hands all over it, and you won't get burned. In fact, you won't even get warm hands, a great feature for schools. By running cool, we produced a plate for fiber-optic bundles. They won't become a fused mass.” By using the accessory fiber-optic adapter plate, the unit can be used as a fiber-optic illuminator. Another available accessory is a barndoor for controlling the light. Both accessories come with a safety cable.

The original PaintCan had full CMY color mixing. After receiving requests from designers and dealers for more color choices, the manufacturer added a fixed color wheel. The bidirectional wheel includes five colors plus open and comes with colors deep red (R26), blue (R80), yellow (R15), amber (R22), and CTB. All of the reference color matches are subjective.

The light source — a 575W halogen GLA or GLC lamp in the 3,200K color temperature range — is aimed at keeping the unit cost-effective and blending well with other lights. The GLC at 300 hours has a color temperature of 3,250K; the 1,500-hour GLA is 3,050K. The unit also can use a 230V GKV lamp, and the lamp base can be adapted to accept HPL lamps. To match discharge lamps used in automated fixtures, a CTB filter cools the color temperature.

Pan and tilt for the fixture are manually adjustable using a friction clutch tilt mechanism and lockable pan. It takes eight channels of DMX for control, and the electronic zoom range is from 20° to 40°, with five-pin male and female XLR connectors for DMX-In and DMX-Out/Through. A built-in shutter can open and close as well as provide strobe effects from slow to fast. Eight internal programs are on-board, or users can load up to 48 cues onto the internal Flash memory, which can work with or without a controller. The units also run in a master/slave configuration or via sound activation that can operate in standalone mode with either automatic programs or via an audio trigger.

The control display includes DMX address, individual DMX channel value, lamp hours, fixture hours, channel control and test, reset/home, fan speed control, color mixing adjustment, preheat adjustment for the lamp, display reverse, and display on/off. The redesigned power supply creates a power draw of 6.5A, so three PaintCans can fit on one 20A breaker. The PaintCan weighs 20lbs (9kg) and measures 13.5" (34.3cm) wide by 12.75" (32.4cm) deep by 9.75" (24.8cm) high. The unit is available in a black or white finish.

What End Users Have To Say

John Schertler is the lighting designer at the Washington, DC-based Newseum, a modern 250,000sq-ft. museum of news constructed of glass and steel, designed by architect James Polshek of Polshek Partnership Architects LLP. Schertler incorporated PaintCans into the fixture inventory of the venue for aesthetic and practical reasons. “Aesthetically, the form and scale of the PaintCan integrated well into the architectural design of the Newseum,” he says. “A fixture like the PaintCan with a nice visual profile is essential, because it is located in clear view of visitors inside the facility and those passing by on Pennsylvania Avenue. I value the PaintCan not simply for economic reasons, but because in the area of CMY color mixing, it performed extremely well in head-to-head comparisons with other products.” Schertler also finds benefits in the lower power consumption, a factor he says allows him to increase fixture inventory.

Mike Dorsett, owner of Mobile, AL-based Dorsett Productions Unlimited saw the PaintCan at LDI and chose the light for the combination of its affordability, color mixing, brightness, and two-year warranty. “A lot of the companies only do 90-days, six months, or a year at the most,” says Dorsett. “They were really strong that it was a two-year warranty covering parts and labor. I like the ease of use with eight channels of DMX, and I can light a pretty good-sized corporate stage with eight to 12 fixtures. Also, the on-board dimming makes it pretty simple. You can put three of them on a 20A circuit, run DMX cable, and you are pretty much up and running.” Dorsett did have one color issue, but that was easily remedied. “The cyan wasn't too deep, like a Rosco 80 blue, but they had the glass to replace that, and it was really inexpensive. Their customer service has been great.”

Paul Sweetman, lighting designer with Myrtle Beach, SC-based Carolina Opry has eight of the units. “I was in the midst of replacing color changers that were wearing out,” he says. “I looked at the cost of a new color changer, power supply, and cabling, as well as the fact that I was beginning to run short on dimming. Once I looked at all of that economically, it was just a smarter choice.” Sweetman was looking particularly for variable focus, 3,200K color temperature, and full color mixing. “It was easy enough to power them off non-dims in my dimmer rack,” he adds. “The output is equivalent to a 575W ETC Source Four PAR or Altman StarPAR. I am glad that they thought about focusing the lamp; you can go into the control pad right on the unit and kick on the lamp to optimize it using the three screws on the back.”

Sweetman also likes the unit's color palette, which he says is more pastel than a moving light palette but notes that you can get the darker colors with the additional fixed color wheel. “I also really like that they have preheat for the lamp — just a hair so you get a good reaction when you hit it with DMX; the lamp comes up quickly.” Sweetman would like to see a brighter 750W lamp used in the unit, but the manufacturer notes that the fixture isn't designed for that much heat. “I have talked with them about the fact that I would love if there were a PC lens version of it,” Sweetman adds. “They don't think that will change because they get better output with the Fresnel lens. I would love to have that kind of soft, feathered hard-edge that you get with a plano convex lens.”

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