Design Elements – Trade Show Lighting

Product Quality translates into fit, finish, stability and durability you’ll appreciate in your trade show display. We’re a hands on company, so we’re constantly on the show floor evaluating the product quality and durability. We invite you to read more about the Design Elements that make up the core of our exhibit design library.

Trade Show Lighting

Experts say light and motion attract attention. Proper lighting of your trade show display and booth space may be the easiest way to attract attendees. Brilliant lighting can make a bad booth design inviting as easily as lack of good lighting can make a beautiful booth uninviting. Today there are exciting LED lighting options that burn bright and run cool.

Here’s three basic ways to light your booth:

  • High power lights mounted along the top of your display (Arm Lights).
  • High power lights mounted to the ceiling structure in the show hall (Ceiling Lights).
  • High power lights mounted to truss suspected from the ceiling structure (Theater Lights).

Common Lighting Solutions

You can add accent lighting in many placed in your booth. Accent lighting is considered somewhat of a luxury since there are power and electrician costs associated. However, often the difference accent lighting adds is tremendous. Until recently low voltage Halogen lights were the best solution, but they burn hot to there were limitations. Today with bright new LED lighting options, you now can add light easily to places that previously you weren’t able to, or it was too costly.

Arm Lights – Mounting arm lights along the top of your display is the easiest and best solution for smaller booths, especially 10×10 booths and 10×20 booths. Once you move up to a larger island space, other options may be better. Today, there are three common types of arm lights that mount to the display: two types of halogen lighting and LED lighting.

Halogen Lighting – As mentioned above, there are two types of Halogen lighting commonly used in the industry today. These are the typical 100 watt Halogen bulbs and a smaller version that uses fewer watts and is sealed in a protective casing. The typical 100 watt fixtures emit lots of light, but these bulbs operate at a very high temperature, which some view as potentially dangerous. Therefore, a few convention halls have banned the use of them. There are also PAR16 halogen lights, a smaller, 50 watt version. Like typical halogen bulbs, they operate at a high temperature. However, they are sold in a protective casing, making them safer to the Fire Marshall’s.

Ceiling Lights – Most convention centers will have ceiling lights installed. Ceiling Lights are high power halogen spot lights designed to wash light over a larger area. There are two types of ceiling lights: par can 1000 watt spot lights with a 30 degree wash and gobo theatrical halogen lights with a 50 degree wash, the main difference between the two being that the gobo lighting has fins that can limit the boundaries of the light, while the par cans cannot. Most facilities have one or the other. We find that both work well. You can order as many of these ceiling lights as you like. There cost is usually $300-$400 at advance pricing. Many island booths need only 2-4 of these lights. By the time you add up the cost of the arm lights and the labor to install them and hide the wiring, the difference is minimal. A booth lit up with ceiling lights looks more custom and arm lights simply look out of place in many island designs.

LED Lighting – As an alternative, there is now LED display lighting, which is quickly overtaking Halogen display lighting. LED lights are bright, operate at cool temperatures, and generally draw less power. Currently, there is only one style of LED arm light, but display lighting manufacturers are in the process developing sleeker arm light fixtures.

Theatrical Lights – Theatrical lights mounted to truss represent a third lighting option. This option makes more sense for very large trade show display booths. Typically these larger booths also utilize the truss to hang tension fabric structures, fabric banners or other signage. The lights used are the gobo theatrical lights with the directional fins. These lights are often used in conjunction with colored gels to wash colors onto the booth space, similar to a concert stage.

Wiring Considerations

Consider that each light must have a power source. Therefore there must be a wire from the light fixture to the power source. Additionally there are certain grounding requirements that show venues have, so not just any wiring will work. Generally there’s always a good solution, whether it involves modifying the structure to hide the wires, or switching to longer after market cords to cover the distance required to run the power. Have your trade show person prepare a Electrical Layout to insure the power requirements and cord management was addressed before finalizing your project.

Make sure your electrical layout is readable. Consider that your layout may be printed and copied so a point where small words and numbers are hard to read.

Accent Lighting

Accent Lighting: Accent lighting is intended to add a splash of light here and there, emphasizing certain aspects of your trade show display. One common example of accent lighting is the use of puck lights in the ceiling panels. However, LED light strips are the newest rage. These light strips can be easily concealed, while still giving off a bright glow of light. You often see these in use around custom counter tops and custom counter bases. These are just a few of the widely used accent lighting options; there are many styles in puck, arm strip accent lighting.

Backlit Displays: Back lit displays are another lighting option commonly used in trade show displays. With the advancements in cool running LED lighting and back lit fabrics, back lit display can be bigger and brighter than ever before. Gone are the bulky reflecting boxes and rows of florescent tubes that use to dominate the show floor; as new technology has advanced, it has made back lit displays easy and affordable, even when renting trade show booths.

Tip: 1 amp equals 1000 watts. This is helpful when adding up your power requirements.

Tip: Stage your materials and fixtures before the electrician arrives. Helping him can speed his work up and save you money on labor costs.

Tip: It was the Fire Marshall over the Las Vegas Convention Center that imposed the rule to restrict halogen fixtures where the bulb could be removed and replaced. Touching the bulb is the issue; it can burst and start a fire.

Talk With Us – If you see lighting effects you like while browsing our Best in Show library, talk with a rental consultant. It may be very easy to give your product that same accent lighting effect. Click to view photos of lighting ideas and talk with a rental consultant to learn more.

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