Power Play - Watt's the Big Deal? An 80V Case Study


In 2005 the Civic Precinct Technical Services Team at the Civic Theatre in Newcastle, NSW, Australia entered the Newcastle City Council Employees Energy Smart-Water Wise Innovation Awards; an internal initiative instigated by the Green Energy & Water Team who were looking for ways to minimise the use of town water and energy within the Newcastle City Council environment.

The Technical Services Team's electrical energy-saving submission detailed the environmental and financial benefits that replacing 26 aging, maintenance-intensive 2.5kW front of house stage lighting instruments with new energy-efficient luminaires would bring to the Theatre. They argued that this potential replacement of half of their total FOH lighting rig would result in increased illumination with 48% less power consumption and because of the reduced heat output shutters and gel would be less like to burn out and the cost of replacement lamps were less expensive than those for the Strand Alto Zoomspots.

This entry proved to be a winner and resulted in the installation of 26 Selecon Pacific Zoomspots fitted with the 80V Power System and 1200W lamp supplied by Herkes Pro Lighting.

Two years on in October 2007, backed by proven and documented energy-saving results the Civic Theatre team were rewarded with a second allocation of 24 units making the entire FOH lighting rig 1200W 80V Pacifics.

Since then the City of Newcastle has compiled and released an  Electricity Consumption Graphs report (PDF download - dated February 2008) which shows electricity usages for the Civic Theatre over the past five years and the two full years that the 1200W 80V units have been in use at the Theatre (2006/07 and 2007/08) make for interesting reading, based on similar event / days of usage:

Total events / days of usage per year (split into Professional and Community Events).



Professional Events


Community Events




Events / Days


Events / Days



















Approx same days as previous year

2008 YTD





With 3 months to go days are at ‘07 level

The Meter 1 Consumption graph is for the air-conditioning system only and we can see from the graphs of total KWh consumption that years before the 80v system was installed were between 540,000 - 620,000 kWh and in the first year (2006-2007) when half the FOH rig was 80v the consumption reduced to 450,000 kWh.

Year 2007-2008 YTD with approximately the same amount of shows and the balance of the FOH upgraded to 80v system, the consumption has dropped to 300,000 kWhs.


The Meter 2 Consumption graph covers the balance of power to the theatre including cool rooms, fridges etc which all of this power consumption is consistent 24/7 and for the balance of the year.

The largest consumer of power on this meter is the stage lighting.

The years before the 80V system was installed total consumption was between 350,000 - 425,000 kWhs and in the 2006/2007 year (first 80V upgrade) consumption dropped to 240,000 kWhs and in the current year (2nd 80V upgrade) the consumption has dropped to 165,000 kWhs.


Prior to the 80V upgrade annual power consumption for the Theatre had reached 1,021,038 kWhs at an annual cost of $94,058.00. In 2006/07, following the first full year of the upgrade power consumption was 698,990 kWh's at a total cost of $75,675.00 - total savings over one year: $18,383.00.

The initial 80v upgrade was then extended to the complete FOH lighting system which for the current period YTD (2007/2008) and has resulted in a total power consumption of 455117 kWhs at a total cost of $51,097.00 year to date, with the same amount of shows completed as compared with previous years. This would mean a total saving of nearly $43,000.00 over the year against the original lighting system.

Australia's electricity generation produces one third of its greenhouse gas emissions, of which almost 100% is the result of carbon dioxide produced through coal combustion at 24 coal-fired power stations. A report by the WWF-Australia in 2003 showed that the Australian public was unaware of the significant role of coal fired power in contributing to global warming or even that Australia is one of the world's most coal dependent nations when it comes to generating electricity. Public surveys revealed that only 33% of those surveyed knew that coal was the main fuel for producing electricity in Australia. The most nominated source was hydro.

Through the forward-thinking of the Technical Services Team at the Civic Theatre it is quite clear that they are doing their part to help with Australia's contribution to global warming as greenhouse gas emissions have dropped from a 932 tonnes high in 2005/06 to a 431 tonnes recording for 2007/08!

"Newcastle's Civic Theatre may be 75 years old but it is light years ahead in energy efficient illumination thanks to Selecon",
Dave Grinstead, Operations Director.

Up until now Selecon's 80V Power System has used the dimmer output to drive an electronic variable power supply. This solution is now complemented by a direct mains supply, DMX controlled power supply, which uses the same mains power and control network required for moving lights, doing away with the need for a separate dimmer and delivering further cost savings.

The Newcastle Civic plans to further lighten their energy load with the replacement of their current 2000W Fresnels with Selecon Rama 80V units in the new year.