PAR 64 LED retrofit review

Yep, it's a thing! Ever since PAR64 and PAR56 bulbs have been discontinued there's been a whole bunch of discussions over what to do next. The obvious choice would be to simply get rid of the old cans and dimmers and simply buy LED pars. Easy to say when all of your lighting fixtures are accessible and power and DMX lines are readily available. This however is not the case for many older theaters and other buildings like Churches, schools and even some commercial buildings for which re-thinking the whole electrical installation and running DMX would be a costly nightmare.

So why not just invent an LED retrofit that pops right into the PAR can and is fed by the existing connector? That's just what the guys at ONSIDE LED in California did. They have engineered an LED fixture that simply replaces existing bulbs without requiring any modifications whatsoever. This fixture is a real no-brainer. Pop out the existing bulb and pop in the new LED retrofit. Plug it back in and you're done! I have had a chance to try it out and it really is as simple as changing a bulb. The result is outstanding! This video shows the process:

The Onsite LED engineers are featured on this episode of the Backstage Cowboys Podcast. You can also check out the podcast on your favorite podcast app (Itunes, Google, Soundcloud, Stitcher etc).

This PAR64, PAR56 LED retrofit is available in different color temperatures (2700K to 6500K) and beam angles (22deg to 64deg). Here is a spec sheet for both units:

RP64 Specifications1
Download PDF • 764KB

RP56 Specifications1
Download PDF • 728KB

And what is to be said of energy savings? You will find data on this also in the following savings charts:

RP64 Savings Chart1
Download PDF • 685KB

RP56 Savings Chart1
Download PDF • 725KB

So what are the differences in quality and performance of the LED retrofit as opposed to the good old PAR bulb? Here is what I have been able to observe:

Output: In theory, the LED retrofit has slightly less output than the original bulb. However in real life I have found the LED to be brighter then the old bulbs that were in place at the time of testing.

Color: Well needless to say that correcting the color temperature is something we have always had to do with color filters. Now at least we have a choice of source color before correcting anything. And when we do decide to add color filters, we now get way more life out of them due to the fact that LEDs produce much less heat.

Beam angle: Back in the day we needed to use different bulbs to get different beam angles from PAR cans and the choice was quite limited; very narrow, narrow, medium, wide. Now we can choose between 22-29-39-46-51-64 degrees and this is done simply by swapping out the cone in front of the LED engine. The main difference is that the oval orientable beam we used to get mainly out of the medium bulbs is now gone. The beam produced by these reflectors is perfectly round. This video shows how to swap out the beam cone:

Noise: The LED power supply is mounted with a cooling fan so one would expect to have to put up with some noise right? Not really. The noise produced by the fan is very negligible. Even inaudible at as little as 2 feet distance. In fact, the ventilation in most buildings produces way more noise than any amount of these fixtures put together.

Dimming: Since the dimming on the LED retrofit is controlled by dimmer intensity, the curve remains the same as with the bulb. No stepping as you would otherwise have to put up with if you had DMX controlled LEDs. The LED does not need pre-warming but I have noticed a slight jerk in intensity when you go from completely black to about 2%. Once again this is very unnoticeable but might bother certain designers who enjoy tweaking their intensities under the 2% mark (blink blink).

To learn more about this product you can visit the official Onsite LED website at:

For information about pricing and availability in Canada or to request a demo please fill out the contact form below and we will get back to you shortly.

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