When it comes to outdoor installations, projection enclosures are typically a must-have. But why are they so important? What makes projector and lighting protection so important? Commercial Integrator Europe spoke to Tim Burnham, president of projector and lighting protection specialist, Tempest, to find out.

Why is projector and lighting protection so important?

This is kind of chicken and egg – obviously if you plan to use sophisticated lighting or projection equipment outdoors, some form of protection is vital – an awning might be ok for a weekend festival, but for permanent or semi-permanent installations in most parts of the world, this kind of equipment needs far more sophisticated protection if it is going to last outdoors for as long as it would inside a conventional building. That was the chicken – the egg is that many people simply assume that such protection is unavailable, and so they fail to take the next step – designing a stunning outdoor experience with automated lights or video projection mapping. So a lot of what we do is education – when designers understand that they can place sophisticated (not to mention expensive) equipment outside in any climate, the creative juices start to flow, with sometimes quite amazing results.

Is this something that is often overlooked? If so, why?

As above – many designers are unaware that they can safely do what Tempest outdoor enclosures make possible – when they do, they can do amazing things…

(Campeche) – Six Tempest Blizzard enclosures provided protection for the six high output Christie S+14K-M projectors that powered the show.

(Expo Yeosu) – 78 Tempest Tornado enclosures protecting Martin MAC3 and MAC2000XB lights, in a constant deluge of salt water fountain effects.

(Royal Opera House) – 10 Tempest Typhoon enclosures protected 10 Panasonic PT-DZ21K projectors. The Royal Opera House in London’s historic Covent Garden district was transformed into a giant canvas for a spectacular piece of visual art, as part of the Deloitte Ignite Festival.

Which types of customers and installs can benefit from this?

Many of our most exciting installations are in theme parks around the world – unfortunately their owners don’t allow us to talk about them, but the first names that come to mind are our biggest customers. After that, it’s casinos, hotels, cruise ships, historic buildings – any outdoor attraction that can benefit from lighting (what used to be called son et lumière) to excite an audience or draw in traffic. Such treatments have been proven to increase foot traffic in locations as divergent as casinos, shopping malls and more.

What would you say to convince anyone as to why they should invest in this type of protection?

Do it at the concept stage! Adding enclosures to the budget on day one has negligible impact – leaving it as an afterthought is expensive, and no-one ever has the budget after the fact…

Do you have any examples of times when projectors / lighting has not had protection, and the equipment has suffered? 

Yes, but I’m not allowed to say who… We enclosed some projectors whose ballasts were rotting through salt air in a beach location, and they had only been out there six weeks or so! Luckily we were able to come to the rescue – this was about five years ago, and once the ballasts were replaced the projectors are still performing every hour, every night of the year.

What are applications that can benefit from this kind of solution?

This technology is applicable to every environment type – we have installations in climates as different as Northern Canada (very cold in winter), the Gulf (hot and surprisingly humid in summer), Singapore (always hot and humid), Las Vegas (hot and dry), and the UK (mostly miserable!). Obviously we have to work harder on a summer evening in Dubai than in Berlin, but every climate will have days that are challenging – and every climate carries the risk of condensation – the real killer for outdoor equipment metal parts, optics and electronics.

Do you have any customer feedback on why these products are important for them? Any ‘horror’ stories from customers saying they are glad they invested in your products?

Atlantic City Boardwalk Casino – high humidity and 100% condensing salt fog most mornings. We enclosed twelve Christie Roadster projectors to protect from weather and salt air – the installation was completed a week before Hurricane Sandy devastated the Jersey shore. Thousands lost their homes that day, but the projectors came through completely unscathed.