Posted by John Arnaut on 3rd Sep 2017
Selecting a laser projector for your club or DJ gig can be tricky especially if your not sure what power rating you might need for your venue. Laser projectors, or laser scanners are available in a few different configurations - Usually aerial or graphic.
Aerial lasers are positioned for aerial laser beam effects that shoot lasers beams over the crowd and do effects like liquid sky and other “Star Wars” laser beam effects. Graphic lasers are postponed for laser graphics like animations, text and graphics usually designed for trade shows, special effects or promotions and project the laser effects on a wall, scrim or screen, however both laser configurations can do both aerial effects and graphics, each laser is set up to do one or the other (aerial or graphic) a little better than the other, however for the most part, higher end graphic lasers the best choice for both for larger venues or when you might need both effects from venue to venue because they can do both pretty good
The FDA has special guidelines for lasers used for entertainment - All lasers under 5mw (mw - is equal to one thousandth (10−3) of a watt) can be purchased and used in almost any way wanted and there is no need for a variance. The <5mw lasers are usually set up as DJ lasers. A variance is kinda like a license needed for all entertainment lasers over the power rating grater than 5wm and over. A variance application needs to be filled out and filed with the FDA to use all lasers over 5mw. Laser under 5mw are best used for mobile DJ's, homes, dorms, small parties and in smaller clubs.
Once you start looking for a laser projector designed for laser light shows for larger venues, you will need a laser with much more power and these usually start off in a pretty good jump from <5mw power to 300mw +(1000 mw = 1WATT) - and from there move up into X = WATTS of power. A 1 WATT RGB (Red Green & Blue - Full Color) laser is appropriate for a small club or venue with a target power rating of between 1 WATT to 5 WATTS, same with graphic type lasers. Concert laser light show projectors are better in the 10’s of WATTS + power range and outdoor lasers need to be in the 100’s of WATTS power range, however, special note: there are a lot of restrictions with using lasers outdoors and around airports ECT… so you will need to check with your local authorities and the FDA before you move forward on any events or projects using lasers outdoors
The word laser is a acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation". so you are basically seeing a beam of radiation as light - In the US, the FDA does not want any lasers beams to interact with people or the crowd or have the ability to scan the crowd or for the crowd to interact with the laser (however some crowd scanning technology is available and you need special licensing to use it, and yes we have it!) - but for the use of a DJ, or nightclub, lasers are set up to shoot laser beams over the crowd (minimum of 3 meters) or onto a structure that does not reflect back into the chord or a wall that the crowd can not come in contact with - in the addition of exposing the crowd to some extra radiation these lasers have the ability to cause eye damage if a laser beam comes in contact with the retina of a persons eye, your eye can not react fast enough to blink, close or for you to move your head away from the laser beam fast enough before the laser can cause damage to you eye, however this would be most likely the case with a static laser beam (straight beam no moving or scanning back and forth) and of the much higher power ratings.
All venues using these types of higher powered lasers will have a variance showing these lasers are set up and installed in a appropriate way so the laser beams will not contact the audience. All lasers sold in the US must be compliant to use and must acquire a variance from the FDA - Most of not all lasers sold from Asia, and a few from Europe are not compliant to use here in the US (a compliment laser all have special safety features designed into them for safe operation), so they can comply with the FDA guidelines for using a laser in a public venues) - Lasers that are not compliant with the FDA are illegal and have and have a lot of safety violations, so Buyer Beware! - Only purchase and use lasers that are compliant with the FDA or there could be huge fines levied from the FDA if you are caught using a non compliant laser or you don’t have a variance - also if you try to purchase these laser from Ebay or overseas, they will most likely be seized by customs and you will be out of your laser and your money
Also remember, you will need a fog or HAZE machine to see the laser beams in the mid air like you see in all of our videos, the higher power the laser the less fog or HAZE yow will need - for outdoor venues, the more power the better because the lasers use the moisture or particulates in the air to bloom and light up so you can see them, if you don’t have enough power for outdoor lasers shows you will not see the laser beams at all, so power is important. The rule of thumb for most venues is the more power you can budget for the better, you can in most cases lower the power output of the laser if it is pushing out too much for the venue, however you can’t increase the power over the power rating if the laser is under powered for the venue - for more information, please do not hesitate to give us a call - 406-270-3327
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