How to Design an LED Dance-Floor Lighting System for a Small Bar, Pub or Restaurant

Most independent bars and pubs now feature DJs at the weekend and though DJs receive most of the accolades, no dance floor is complete without a quality lighting system. For this overview our senior lighting installation engineer Craig West will discuss a selection of some of the permanent lighting fixtures that we most commonly install into small bars and pubs.

Lighting installations for pubs and bars have come a long way since the strobe and revolving disco ball. The mass majority of our installed lighting systems feature intelligent LED lighting fixtures, which deliver a wide array of colour, movement, shapes and luminosity and can be set to run automatically or controlled through a central control desk.

An LED is an electronic component (Light Emitting Diode) which produces light when electric current passes through it. The LED installation lights are usually based on three main colours, red, blue and green (RBG), these colours can also be seamlessly mixed together to create a limitless number of colour variations. 

If you are considering a new lighting installations in your pub and bar, LED lights are perfect for a number of reasons;

  • LED lights come in many formats and provide multiple application options.
  • LED lights are relatively cheap.
  • LED lights consume less electrical power in comparison to traditional disco lights.
  • LED lighting does not get hot.
  • LED lights are easy to install and are cost effective to run and maintain.
  • LED lighting provides a multitude of colour illumination options.
  • LED lights can run individually or linked together to create stunning lighting displays.
  • LED lighting fixtures are light in weight, making it easy to install them at any location.


Types of LED Installation Lighting:

LED Parcans

LED Parcans are a very popular and versatile permanent, LED lighting installation fixture and are perfect for small bars that offer DJs and live music events. When installed the LED Parcan provides a wide distribution of even light making them great for colour washing dance-floors, DJs, bands or walls. 

The LED Parcan delivers thousands of potential colour variations and often comes with built in features, such as strobes and dimmers, that would ordinarily be absent from traditional studio Parcans. LED Parcans can also be installed against a wall on ground or ceiling level and used for up or down lighting.

Most Parcans have sound to light functionality, enabling them to automatically colour pulse to a beat while music is being played. They can be run as individual lights or daisy chained (linked with other Parcans) and programmed to produce pre-set lighting sequences through a DMX lighting controller. 


Moving Heads LED Lighting

Moving head lights are a multifunctional LED and are a must for any permanent dance-floor lighting installation. They are known for their fascinating color effects. The Moving LED head rotates 540 degrees on pan and 270 degrees of on tilt, producing a variety of single or multiple beams of lights and patterns in a wide variety of colours.

Moving Heads are generally ceiling mounted directly above dance-floors, they are relatively easy to install and make a great addition to any new bar or night club lighting installation. Moving heads have sound to light functionality, they can be run as individual lights or daisy chained and pre-programmed through a DMX lighting controller.

Note: During a pan tilt un-programmed rotation, the head light will often be directed at the ceilings and in effect lose the ability to beam onto the room and dance-floor. To counteract against this moving heads should always be programmed by a lighting engineer to ensure that during rotation the lights never point directly upwards.

LED Effect Lighting

LED effects lighting fixtures come in a wide array of formats and are quite simply the dance-floor show stealers. They are capable of a wide range of expressive options, including moonflowers, strobes, and laser style effect, they projected onto walls, ceilings, floors and backdrops and fill dance-floors with needles of rotating multicolored lights and mid-air effects. Effects light are designed to create the exciting atmosphere we have all come to associate with night clubs.

Due to the complexity of the effects produced most LED Effects lights utilise 6 colours format (6 Hex Color Red, Green, Blue, Cyan, Amber& White) rather than 3 used in many of the other LED fixtures.

Effects lighting is a must for any new bar lighting installation, but due to the variation, application and quality, it is important to consult a qualified lighting engineer prior to purchasing.

LED Battens

LED Battens are similar is structure to a fluorescent light, but rather than one bulb, they feature a row of circular LED lights. LED Battens are best utilised when positioned together in rows on walls or ceilings. For the best results LED Battens should be professionally programmed through a control panel to create the desired hypnotic chasing, pulsing and strobing sequential effects.

If your bar has a spare blank wall close to your dance-floor LED battens may be a great addition to your lighting installation.


Additional Dance Floor Effects


Lasers take can any light show to the next level. Combining laser light systems with melodies emotionalizes people through a multitude of audio-visual impacts.

Modern multi-color laser systems feature bold color-mixing options that create cyan, yellow and magenta beams. Laser systems are sometimes combined with accessories such as mirrors, projection screens, remote projector heads, and other devices, to display different kinds of beam effects. New compact lasers units have come down dramatically in price, which makes them a great addition to any bar or pub lighting installation.

Black Lights

A blacklight, also referred to as a UV-A light, is a lamp that emits long-wave ultraviolet light and very little visible light. Black lights are employed for decorative and artistic lighting effects and create an eerie glow. Fluorescent black light tubes are typically made in the same fashion as normal fluorescent tubes and can be positioned around the venue to create a very cool, highly cost effective nightclub effect.

Smoke and Haze Machines

Smoke Machines: Smoke machines also called fog machines, use special fluid which is heated in the machine to produce a thick white visual effect smoke. The heated smoke produced by smoke machines rises and dissipates around the room. Use when you want the whole room to be smoky.

Haze Machines

Haze machines: Also known as ‘hazers,’ can be oil-based or water-based and are used to complement lighting effects. Haze machines create a fine haze that stays in the air for a long time prior to dissipating. This makes them ideal for to enhance the effects of lighting, highlighting the colour, rays and patterns that you would not usually see in normal light.

DMX Controllers and Programming

Any LED lighting installation can play on an automatic mode, but to get a truly stunning visual experience the entire LED lighting installation should be managed by a DMX Controller. A DMX controller can be either a dedicated hardware product or software installed on a laptop. The controller allows a user remote access control for every light fixture that is connected to the system and also enables lighting engineers to design pre-programmed sequences, which can be implemented over the course of the night.

DMX controllers work via channels, an RGB moving head light that that has three main colours will require 3 channels, a 6 Hex Color effects light would require six channels. A controller has 512 channels whichisknown as the DMX universe.

Lighting Designers

Lighting designers are the nerve centre of the lighting setup and have much in common with the DJs who generally overshadow them. Lighting design is a much specialised and highly complex field of study and most professional lighting designers will typically consistently upgrade their training to keep up with the ever changing lighting technology. For any new bar or pub lighting installation, a lighting designer or lighting engineer should be engaged at the earliest possible time frame, to ensure that you primarily select the correct fixtures and ultimately get the maximum return from your investment.