Easy Instant Portable Lighting for Craft Shows





Introduction: Easy Instant Portable Lighting for Craft Shows

About: Find my creations at: http://www.oddartist.com You can find my wearable creations at: http://www.oddartist-tees.spreadshirt.com Techno-twit, wild woman, exceedingly odd...yup, that's me!

Here in Sacramento we have an art-walk event each month called Second Saturday. Unfortunately a couple of the larger venues for an artist to set up and sell their goods have gone by the wayside (***If anyone in Sac has room for a vendor I'd love to hear about it!!!***) but when I was vending at the Midtown Bazaar I was in need of booth lighting. I took a look at what some of the other vendors were using (Power-Packs) but really did NOT want to spend $200+ on one that didn't 'scream' when they were under a load. I've been next to vendors who were using the cheaper ones and they had to unplug just to hear their customers. I think the noise actually drove shoppers away. Besides, I prefer to make my own! And I've noticed my homemade lighting lasts longer as well.

I found a couple tutorials but they were confusing or sounded like way too much work. So I made my own.

You will need:
            * 1 Deep-Cycle Marine Battery - these are meant to be run down and recharged repeatedly. Auto batteries will work but not as well and not as long so you're wasting your time and money. WallyWorld has these for less than $100 if you can turn in another battery (any type) and avoid the core charge.
            * 1 Pair small auto headlights. It doesn't matter what type car they fit. I paid about $18 for a set of 2 new ones. You may find them cheaper or free.
             * Wire. Take a look at the wiring coming off the headlights and use the same gauge. I used one package each of black and white because my booth is decorated in those colors. I needed enough wire to run them from the battery to each side of my 10x10 canopy I use for shows so I used 20 feet of each color for each light.
             * Wire cutter/crimper
             * Wire connectors that will fit the connectors on the headlights.
             * Small battery clamps
I spent a grand total of $120 and I bought everything new except the wire tool. (If we hadn't moved 5 times in the past 8 years I could have spent far less - I know I have a boat battery SOMEwhere!)

Step 1:

The battery will be your biggest expense so if you have a boat battery or know someone who does, just borrow it. You won't be doing anything to it but hooking it up. Make sure the battery is fully charged before using. And I'm not sure why, but my sweet hubby told me to NEVER set a battery directly on concrete. I guess it ruins it. I'd love an explanation but I have other things to do than sit around googling the answers to all my questions. Besides I'm certain one of you folks already knows and would love to share what you know!
Remember - DEEP-CYCLE Marine Battery - not an auto battery. I started looking into wheelchair/scooter batteries because they are smaller (and lighter) but went with what I knew would work.

Step 2:

I cut the wire so I had equal lengths of each color for both lights. To keep things neat I tied both sets of wire together near the battery end and coil them separately. Using the female connector that mated with the male connectors on the lights, I stripped the ends of the wire and crimped the connectors on. I used these connectors to I could disconnect them easily. I could have hardwired them but want to keep things portable and easily stored.

Use one strand of each color to connect each headlight - black to black and white to white.

Step 3:

Connect the battery clamps by twisting both black wires together and crimping them on the black (negative) clamp and both white wires on the red (positive) clamp.
As with all wiring, be certain there is no bare metal showing at any of your connections. You want to light up your booth - NOT your booth frame! And you certainly don't want to electrocute anyone.

Step 4:

I hook up the lights and zip-tie them to my booth frame then I run the wires along the frame and zip-tie them as needed to make them tidy. I set the battery on a piece of scrap wood, attach the red clamp to the positive side of the battery and the black clamp to the negative side. I always arrange to have the battery hidden under a display table so the drapery covers everything. I usually connect the clamps only when it's dark enough to be necessary, no need to run the battery down if you don't need to.
I used these lights for shows for about a year and did not notice much if any dimming after 5 hours of use. I recharge the battery with a trickle charger the day before a show.
Understand that these will light up your booth enough that you may need to attach shades to prevent your neighboring vendors from complaining. I sell Naughty Bits jewelry (and other things) which are made using just the *best* parts of recycled romance novels so my shoppers need to be able to read book-sized print and these lights make all the Sterling silver findings on that jewelry really sparkle too. The light also brings out the depth and color of the recycled record bowls I paint. (You can find my work at oddartist.com)

The battery weights about 40 or 50 pounds which I don't have an issue with so long as I can drive up to my booth to unload my display. If you can't carry that weight or if you have to hike a bit with it (think camping/BBQ) you may want a hand-truck or something to tote it with.



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    There's definitely and easier way to set-up battery powered booth lighting! We make an ultra-bright battery operated LED exhibit light
    that runs over 14 hours on a single charge. Our lights are very portable and can be attached to virtually any
    surface. Detailed information about our lighting systems can be found on our
    website: http://siliconlightworks.com/

    As far as getting the most (time) out of a full charge on the battery LED lighting would be the best. Low draw coupled with a deep cycle that you already have would mean maybe charging the battery once a month depending on how often you use them, Here's a link to some on Ebay.


    Basically some LED Driving lights would be the best bet, you can get them there on Ebay very cheap or you can find them at most automotive supply stores.

    The fact about the setting a battery on concrete is that a lead acid battery will "gas" during temperature changes even when there is no charger or draw (load) on it. In doing so it creates a liquid acid film on top of the battery, with this and dust and dirt that has settled on top of the battery it creates a natural load (a resistor if you were to put it into terms) between the terminals thus creating a draw on the battery. After enough time it will discharge the battery, So yes the Myth that leaving a battery on concrete will discharge a battery is just that 'A Myth". As far as using a lead acid battery at a show it's a safer method to get a plastic battery box (the type they use in boats) with it's cover and then you don't have to worry about acid ever leaking out onto the concrete during use or charging.

    Just to help try replacing the bulbs in the lights with led’s or use day time running lights and the battery will give light for days instead of hours. I have one in my garage that gets charged one a month and this is used every evening when working on the car as garage light and lead light

    3 replies

    I just needed something to light things up when night fell but I did a show in an old foundry last year where there were no windows and the lighting sucked so I had these little lights burning for about 8 hours one day. A week later I did an evening show outdoors and lit up my booth for about another 5 hours and never noticed any dimming. And I had forgotten to recharge between shows!

    sounds like you could do nicely with a smaller lighter battery.

    Walley-World only had one deep-cycle battery and I needed lights the next day for the foundry show. Do deep-cycles batteries come smaller?

    You could use a sealed lead acid battery to make things safer, then a battery that is releasing gases!

    This would work wonderfully as a independent lighting system if paired with one of those "car battery" solar chargers!

    Great ible.

    Here's some more info about the "car-battery and concrete" issue form the folks at Car Talk ~

    Insofar as the concrete and battery thing go, I figure it never hurts to go that extra inch and put something under it. I even put tape over the ends of smaller batteries if I store spares in a zip-lock bag. And yes, I store them in the fridge even though they don't need to be there. You see, I misplace things all the time (usually when I put them in a 'safe place') but at least I always know where to find a fresh battery!

    great idea and nicely done "ible" We were just discussing doing somethink like this with red lights for this years haunt. I don't know why setting a battery on concrete kills the battery but it does, from experince

    1 reply

    From the Wind & Sun Deep Cycle Battery FAQ (http://www.windsun.com/Batteries/Battery_FAQ.htm):

    "The old myth about not storing batteries on concrete floors is just that - a myth. This story has been around for 100 years, and originated back when battery cases were made up of wood and asphalt. The acid would leak from them, and form a slow-discharging circuit through the now acid-soaked and conductive floor."