The Importance of Quality Black Lights in Attractions
When it comes to your attractions, you want to provide your guests with the best possible experience. You want to make sure that your attraction is flawless, and that every detail of it is up to par. Better attention to detail on your attractions leads to better experiences for your guests, which leads to happier customers, more repeat play, etc.
An often overlooked detail for laser tag and mini golf is the lighting in the attraction. The quality of black lights can make or break the experience for players. Black lights, of course, illuminate the environment and the fluorescent paint used on the props, murals, and barriers in the space.
Not All Black Lights Are Created Equal
It’s very important to understand that not all black lights have the same effectiveness. There is a very noticeable difference in the quality of cheap black lights and high quality black lights. If you get cheap fixtures and bulbs, there will be a couple problems.
First, there won’t be enough ultraviolet light coming from the fixtures, and therefore the props and murals won’t illuminate as intended. Plus, these bulbs tend to burn out quickly. And because laser tag arenas (especially arenas with multiple levels) will have high ceilings of 18’ or more. This means it’s difficult to actually replace any dead bulbs unless you have a 1-man scissor lift. Too often, bulbs will burn out, operators will see they are hard to replace, and so they will just leave the dead bulbs up there. If this happens, your attraction will suffer and guests will notice.
Also important to note: Most general contractors don’t know the difference between good and bad black lights. Consequently, unless they are directed otherwise, they will likely choose the cheapest option in an effort to minimize costs. It’s important to have specific fixtures marked on the attraction plans, which is what we do for all of our attraction clients.
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Understanding the Options
When it comes to the black lights in your attraction, you have two main options: LED and fluorescent. We won’t go into the technical details of the differences between the two, but you can find more information here.
In our experience, LED black lights are the best option. Here’s why:
- More efficient: LED lights are typically 1.5x – 3.0x more efficient than fluorescent UV blacklights. This reduces electric consumption and your facility’s power bill.
- Longer lasting: LED lights last for 25,000 hours or more. Fluorescent blacklights typically last only 5,000 hours.
- No hazardous materials: LEDs do not have any mercury or other dangerous and hazardous materials that fluorescent lamps have. If an LED light breaks, you won’t have to worry about the risk of dangerous materials that you would have to do with fluorescent.
LED black lights typically are a bit more expensive, but, as pointed out above, the long-term payoff is worth it. The LED black lights will usually pay for themselves over time through the long-term energy savings.
If the price point of LED black lights are too high, you can still be very successful with fluorescent black lights, as long as you purchase the right kind. We give specific recommendations and links for LED and fluorescent fixtures at the end of this article.
An Example – The Good And Bad
Below, we show an example of what some of our laser tag maze panels look like under high quality LED black lights, and what they would look like under poor conditions of cheap black lights with diffuser panels. The differences are very noticeable. First, take a look at LED.
Then, take a look at how these same panels would look with cheap fluorescent pictures:
Dispelling a Common Myth
There’s something that’s extremely important to understand about black lights: brighter is NOT better. The point of black light is to illuminate black light paint and props, not to brighten the room. You want the props and paint to POP, as if they were lit and plugged into the wall.
You want as little visible light as possible. As seen in the picture above, lower-quality black lights will give off a blue-purple tint.
Where to Find Black Lights
Our Creative Prop Shop is your one stop shop for all of your entertainment attraction needs, including black lights. Check out a few options currently available in our store:
- LED Fixture – Wildfire Ultrablade Series, 4’ Two Lamp, Hard Wire
- Fluorescent Fixture – Wildfire Effects Master Energy Series, 4′ Two Lamp
- LED Replacement Lamps – Wildfire Lamp, LED, SableLed, T8, 365NM, 48” 15W
- Fluorescent Replacement Lamps – Wildfire Lamp, FL, Sablelux, T8, BLB, 48” 32W