We had a call for using lasers to add holiday cheer to a home in Austin; the owner was trying to avoid going through the laborious process of hanging traditional lights all over his large home, and thought that lasers might provide the solution.
After some demos, tests, and trials, we settled on four laser projectors from Laserworld – two EL-200 LED projectors, and two EL-200S DMX projectors, a fog machine, and four custom weatherproof enclosures. Total cost: Approximately $2500
These laser projectors use green and red lasers with diffraction grating technology to produce their effects. The main effect is that of a lot of laser “dots” striking the home. The projectors come with hundreds of built in patterns; these can be selected and programmed with any standard DMX controller, or set to change by sound activation, or set to run automatically. In this case the client wanted them to run simply and inexpensively, and chose the automatic mode. They both have an additional LED ripply abstract light projection output next to the laser output. The EL-200S DMX has additionally a pair of scanners that move the entire effect and add additional pattern variation by projecting the light in tiny circles and squares and lines. There is quite a bit of laser movement and dancing in this show! The weatherproof enclosures are made of galvanized sheet metal, and can be delivered powder coated if desired.
Problems? Mainly, keeping in mind the parameters that you can run the laser on; in this case the specs in the manual say as low as 10° C or 50° F. Well it got quite cold one night, down to 20° F, and the green lasers failed to come on. Fortunately, they were replaced under warranty, but it’s best to keep in mind, in an installation like this, to try to keep the lasers warm. We have even installed tiny thermostatic heaters to maintain a minimum temperature inside the enclosure.
All in all, I think that this was a successful installation. It was better perceived from the yard of the home, but it was a large house, set back from the street, and surrounded by a 6′ tall stone wall. My conclusion is that in a dark neighborhood, this would be spectacular, especially as one approached the house, but to be seen from far away, it is better to stick to traditional string Christmas lights, or to do something with higher power lasers.