Should You Buy Spot, Wash, or Beam Lights?

Should You Buy Spot, Wash, or Beam Lights? (and does it even matter...?)

When you begin shopping for new light fixtures you generally have the main categories of a spot, wash, beam, and even some hybrid lights. How do you approach and decide which type of fixtures are best for your lighting set up?

In this post, we’re going to walk through what to consider and the best uses for each type of fixture.

Since the beginning of stage lighting, the spot, beam, and wash lights have been the typical categories of types of fixtures. Even now, with new lights constantly being introduced these types of fixtures have kept their main attribute. These are also still generally the core of a stage light setup.

Wash Fixtures

If your stage is needing a lot of light that is evenly distributed across the stage, then wash fixtures may be a good fit for your setup. Wash fixtures are great to use when you’re wanting to evenly wash a space on the stage. Most standard wash units are able to change colors and more complex wash lights come with a zoom and pan/tilt options.

Should You Buy Spot, Wash, or Beam Lights?

Points to Consider

As I mentioned earlier, wash fixtures are a fantastic way to distribute a lot of light on your stage as long as there is nothing behind your stage that you are trying to keep the lights off of.

Wash fixtures don’t always have the capability to contain a beam very well as that is not what they are designed to do. These types of fixtures have generally one purpose and lack complexity.

Spot Fixtures

Spot fixtures are often known as a light that has a hard edge to them, but what does that mean exactly? Basically, spot fixtures are great to use when you need a circle of light on your stage.

Should You Buy Spot, Wash, or Beam Lights?

Points to Consider

Having spot fixtures allows you the ability to had a circle of to your stage or even up in the air if you wanted. These fixtures are great when you want to emphasize a certain point on your stage. With a very sharp edge, you’re not going to have a lot of light outside of that circle.

When it comes to spot fixtures, these are great to use when highlighting parts of your stage and not having the lights reveal areas that you want to keep out of view.

One of my favorite features of spot fixtures is that some of these fixtures have the ability to add patterns and gobos. With those abilities you can add texture to your stage or the space above the stage if you wanted to. Because of those types of features, it really expands what you’re able to do with spot fixtures.

Beam Fixtures

Beam fixtures are more of a newer type of fixture that comes with a little more options. Basically, beam fixtures send out a beam of light that can change colors and be a very sharp light to use on your stage.

Should You Buy Spot, Wash, or Beam Lights?

Points to Consider

Beam lights have one specific duty and that is to send a very direct light to where it’s pointed. Some beam fixtures aside from color have the option to add gobos or patterns to it. The downside is that since it’s a beam it can be hard to decipher what the pattern is on the stage.

Personally, if you are building and designing a new rig, I would suggest considering beam lights last. If you have an established rig and you’re wanting to make an impact on your stage then beam fixtures would be a good option to consider.

Hybrid Fixtures

Hybrid fixtures are becoming more common in the lighting industry. Some of them are great but some of them not so much. Generally, a hybrid fixture is a mix of two different types of lights such as spot + beam or wash + spot.

These are good lights to consider if you are constantly setting up and tearing down. Perhaps, you need a beam and spot fixture combo, that could prove to be very helpful in that type of circumstance.

Personally, if a hybrid is a wash + beam or spot, I don’t find those to be a very good mix. A spot and beam hybrid can be very effective but a wash typically has one function and it’s best to leave it as is.

About the author