Lighting you layout!

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by kf4jqd, Jan 6, 2007.

  1. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    I am posting a thread about lighting your layout. I am not talking about the lights on it. I am talking about the lights above it! I listen to Coast to Coast with George Nooray when I work nights. There is a commercial from C.Crane. One of the items they sell is LED bulbs to replave your incondecent bulbs. Cost for one of these is $45! But it uses 2.5w watts of power and is equal to a 40 watt bulb. They also sell LED spot lights. Every type of bulbe in your house can be replace by one of these LED lights. By the way, the life of these is about 80,000!!! The more money you save on your electric bill, the more money you wiill have for your trains!:thumb: Here's the site: There is NO www.


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  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    this is an interesting topic. Keep in mind the law of conservation of energy, and the extra 37.5 watts used by the incandescent bulb is heat generated. If you are air conditioning your house, that extra hear needs to be removed as well, and that means even more money.

    White LEDs are a great invention that has a potential to greatly reduce energy consumption. The problem is the quality of light produced is irritating to some people (like myself) An incandescent bulb produces a wide spectrum of light, much like the sun. LEDs produce a single wavelength. In the case of the white LEDs I think it is a matter of combining just a few wavelengths to give the appearance of white, rather than a full spectrum. Fluorescents are also irritiating to some (like me) but I have found a compromise - I use half fluorescents, and half incandescents to light a room.

  3. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I've got all florescent over my layout also, but am considering installing some incandescent "track lights" around the room to supplement the florescents.

    They do make florescent "screw-in" bulbs to replace the regular incandescent bulbs, less current draw and longer life than incandescent. Of course, the frequencies emitted are different than the incandescents.

    The LED bulbs mentioned are new to me. Not sure about how those would make things appear on the layout.

    If someone tries some, please let us know how they look.
  4. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I think that the savings in electricity would be substantial, but with such localised light sources, it would take a lot of fixtures to replace the almost 2000 watts of fluorescent tubes that light my layout. I'm not overly fond of the quality of light from fluorescents, although there are colour-balanced tubes available (at a sustantially higher cost and with a reduced light output). However, the tubes do offer more light over a wider area than incandescents, and generate a lot less heat.

  5. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Another method to light a room is to use halogen spotlights. IMO, in a model RR room they have their place and even can be great to highlight interesting spots on a layout - but they are expensive, need a heavy transformer, and they become extremely hot.

    Now you can also buy LED replacements for these spot lamps. You get them in white (and also in color: red, green, blue, yellow). In the housing of a halogen spot bulb there is an array of 15 hi-intensity LEDs. They also use 2.5 Watts at 12 Volt - so you can take a normal model RR transformer to power them! :thumb: The cost (here in Europe) is about $15 for one "bulb".

    However - there are disadvantages, too: The light is beamed away in a relatively narrow light cone, so it still works as a spotlight. I think, with these lamps it would be difficult to get an even lighting of a room, even with quite a bunch of these "bulbs". The first two pics show the difference in brightness when looked from the side or straight-on.

    Still worse is the problem of the color. Like others have said before - incandescent lamps give a warm light, while these LEDs shed a cold bluish light which (at least for me) doesn't look good at all on a layout. (BTW - it's the same problem with white LEDs for loco headlights!)
    In my third pic you see the cone of this cold light (almost violet) compared to normal daylight coming in through the window. Oh well, it's a matter of taste, I think.

    But I hope, that these bulbs will be available soon in the 'golden white' version of LEDs. But for the moment this type of LED is still way too expensive! :(


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  6. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Yes, there would be a "substantial" savings, but it would only be relative. Just some really quick math, but if you ran the light for 5 hours each day, every day and you were paying for electricity at a rate of ten cents per kwh that calculates out to:

    $7.30 per year for the 40 W incandescent bulb
    $0.46 per year for the 2.5 W LED bulb

    Now that's a big difference until you factor in the initial cost of around fifty cents each for the incandescent (3000 hour life) and $45 for the LED (80,000 hour life). We are talking around seven years before you reach the break even point even if you have to replace the incandescent once or twice in that seven years. Use it less than the 5 hours each and every day and the break even point takes even longer.

    I'm not saying don't do it, I'm just saying that don't do if strictly for economic reasons.
  7. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    I am switching layout locations and a new lighting system is in the works. My old system was a three-parter, with rope lights as a background "fill" light, a row of 22" mini fluorescents as a main light source, and a series of halogen spotlights to highlight scenes. After moving and greatly expanding my layout space, I discovered that the home improvement store nearby no longer offers the same fluorescent fixtures, which makes expanding this scheme problematic. I am looking at using an LED-based lighting system from IKEA, called "Trettioen," which look like this:


    Each stick contains a row of LED lights. The plus side is that it's very small and easy to mount. The down side is that they're not too cheap: $50 for four one-foot light sticks, which is about the same as the fluorescents in terms of cost per inch of lighting, but I don't think they are as bright.
  8. jefelectric

    jefelectric Member

    I think the combo of fluorescents for working on the layout and track lighting with dimmer controlled halogen lamps for lighting for train running is hard to beat.

    I also agree with ezdays that it would be hard to justify the LEDs on cost savings. I doubt that many of us use the layout lights more than 2 hours a day on average. You have to take in to account the many days that they are not used at all.
  9. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    For me, part of the savings is in heat: it hits 100+ here very often in the summer and avoiding halogens would make life more comfortable in the layout room (and it would be nice to be in the layout room, rather than outside in the open-air incinerator we call the Central Valley in July!)
  10. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Mmmm. July. :thumb: Mmmmm 100+. :thumb: :thumb: Halogens? Sorry, I don't like the light quality of halogens. Of course, many people have the same opinion of fluorescents, and even i'm not that nuts about them, but they offer more even light (too even, sometimes :rolleyes: ) over a wider area, with less heat and a manageable cost. A spot light for sun effects in photos is a useful addition.

  11. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    I find that Incandescent lights look best on the layout. right now i have a single Flourescent light, that is supposed to be "full spectrum" or something, but i think it just makes the layout look like its cloudy and over cast. The incandescants on the other hand make it look sunny. Anyone who suggests LEDs has never actually tried to read or do anything with them for a long time. I have an LED light and it really does hurt your eyes.

    Some people seem to have a mix so that they can create various lighting conditions, which probably isn't a bad idea.
  12. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    my mom got me 250 killowatt halogen lights for my birthday. my dad and grandpa saw it and then shook their heads, saying the things would burn me and melt my models. it got returned.

    I didn't think halogen lights were a good source for layout lighting anyway.
  13. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    There's kind of a difference between 250 watt halogen floodlights and the little 20 watt halogen bulbs I have. They generate some heat but not a ton, and they're good for spotlighting (literally) scenic areas.

    My latest idea is to go back and add another row of rope lights to the back of the fascia, in order to better illuminate the backdrop. I currently have a row of rope lights as a fill light, and I like their warm glow, but it just kind of bounces off the backdrop. While rope lights might not make things bright enough, they are sufficient for early morning/evening light. I want to set things up to simulate 24 hour operations (evenings and night shift) so having two settings (super-bright daytime and subdued evening/morning) is important to me. The halogens add some heat, and even 20 watt bulbs every three feet mean around 300-360 watts total, but I wouldn't need to use them all the time. Besides, the more I read about LED lighting the less I like it.

    Part of why I want bright sunlight effects is because I am modeling a city that gets very hot in summer, and my layout is set in the late summer/early fall (right now all of my industries are agriculture/food processing related.) I use compact fluorescents for room lighting when doing things in the room other than running trains.
  14. jefelectric

    jefelectric Member

    That 250 KILOwatt lamp most have been a whopper! :D

    Seriously I use 50 watt halagens and they do create some heat, but most of the time they are operated at about half brightness.
  15. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    lol yeah, they could have been scaled up to 1000 kilowatts! However, upon reading about these weaker halogen lights, they sound like a good idea.

    I had been using a plant light until it burned a hole through its insulation and shorted out.

    It was fairly ironic, because i was talking to my mother while trying to get it to work, before i realized the melted chord. I said to her "this thing is going to explode on me or something" and then she asked if i knew something was that wrong with it, of which of course i did not:rolleyes:. I turn it on, and sparks shoot out the back of it like a fire cracker.

    I have had no luck with lighting! right now i steel lamps and things that people aren't using when i want to take pictures of stuff.

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