RGB 101: Pointers From Our Lighting Designer
(click on the diagram to see it at full size)
Here at LightArt, LED’s are a frequent topic of discussion. We know that in our digitally progressive world, more and more clients are interested in RGB lighting. Here are ten of our best RGB 101 pointers to remember for your next RGB project.
Choosing the right RGB solution for your project can be a challenging proposition. The components you choose are dependent upon a number of factors including budget, desired lighting effects, level of controllably, and most importantly the space or objects in need of lighting. The RGB LEDs are just one component of a much larger system that will need to be designed, and integrated into your building or interior.
Aside from the RGB LEDs themselves, the next essential component in your RGB system’s equation are the controls. By determining what you want your RGB system to do, you can develop an appropriate control system that can accomplish the desired effects. From a simple wall control panel for cycle-through colors to a fully programmable system with computer controlled scenes, you can develop the perfect solution for your needs.
We have a sweet little diagram for you above. Starting from left to right, we’ll discuss the basic components of an RGB system and their functions.
First, the power supply. The power supply’s function is to take AC voltage from the junction box and convert it to DC voltage for the LEDs and control modules. Most RGB lighting components operate at one of the following DC voltages: 5, 12, or 24.
Second is the three channel DMX interface, pictured as the red component in the diagram. The three channels, or outputs, are individually controllable via a DMX signal. This means that you can control the three separate Red, Green, and Blue LED emitters in a module or stripe independently. DC voltage from the power supply not only provides power to the RGB modules but also the DMX interface. The DMX interface can be thought of as a complex switch or valve, wired inline between the power supply and RGB LEDs. After receiving a DMX signal the interface will adjust the DC voltage to the RGB LEDs to create the desired effect.
Third, the RGB Controller. You will need some type of controller to send a signal to the DMX Interface to give the RGB LEDs their instructions. This can to the form of a wall mounted controller, remote control, or even a smart phone. On the right side of the diagram you can see an example of a wall mountable controller. This can be mounted anywhere in your space, in this example the controller is connected to the DMX interface via a CAT 5 cable.
Wiring your RGB system can be a challenge. You’ll want to ensure the accessibility of your ceilings and walls for running the additional CAT5 cables needed to control your system. You will need to run CAT5 control wires in separate conduit than the power for your fixtures.
Depending on the complexity of your controller, effects can be programed and uploaded as scenes (companies like ours can help with this). Some controllers can be connected directly to a computer, or network in the building to allow for remote access and control or your lighting system.
Lastly, the RGB LEDs. These come in many form factors (from pucks to strips) and will be dictated by your project specifics. For example, strings of RGB pucks (shown in the diagram) are a great option for lighting complex shapes.
More questions? We can help! Reach out to us here.