To the untrained eye, a pinball machine may look nothing more than a chaotic mechanical frenzy set in some well-drawn artwork. To pinball fans, however, these machines are marvels worthy of all kinds of mods and upgrades.
It is easy enough to tell when a pinball machine requires some enhancements or is in need of repairs. Depending on where damage is present or visible, you can straightforwardly diagnose a playfield or lighting issue that needs attention. Dimming bulbs, for instance, could use new pinball LED lights or your choice of replacement, while faded artwork and damaged playfield elements must be repaired or revamped to avoid further damage to your machine.
Regular upkeep is key to diagnosing these problems in your pinball playfield. Quick action to fix these minor issues can very well save you a great deal of expense from major repair in the long run.
And where lighting upkeep is the concern, it pays knowing when you should update your machine’s factory setup and why LED lighting enhancements are the best choice over other types of pinball lighting. Here are ways to know when it’s time to upgrade your lighting with pinball LED light mods:
1. On a new machine you see dark spots, shadows, and general all-around uneven lighting on the playfield (especially in the center where they are ALL dim/dark) then you definitely need to add additional LED lighting. Also older machines you find yourself having to replace bulbs too frequently. Pinball LED lights last far longer than standard incandescent bulbs. Upgrading to LED lights will therefore help you avoid frequent replacements.
2. Incandescent bulbs draw a lot of power and give off heat, which may cause playfield artwork to fade prematurely. Heat from pinball lights may likewise warp plastics and cause artwork on the backglass or backbox to flake. It may also cause inserts to sink or rise, which can mean more damage that will need repairs in the long run. Upgrading to pinball LED lights can virtually eliminate these problems as LEDs operate at low temperatures and will not heat up your playfield the way that traditional incandescent bulbs do.
3. You want to make your machine more energy efficient. LED lights draw much less power, which means less energy consumption and less strain your pinball machine boards. Switching to LEDs could also mean less problems resulting from prolonged use or operation like burnt connectors from drawing more heat and power.
4. Your machine needs a makeover. Another good reason to upgrade to pinball LED lights is when your machine is in dire need of an aesthetic upgrade(looking dull and lifeless). One of the main advantages of using LED lights in a pinball playfield is that they come in different colors, which add visual appeal to the machine. Even the newest of pinball machines that already have LED lights, still have multitudes of dark spots where the LED GI (General Illumination) lights cannot and will NEVER reach.
5. In summary it is rather simple, you’ll know it’s time to upgrade to LED lights or add lighting when your factory pinball bulbs are proving inefficient in illuminating your game. Take a look next time you play a game and you may see it in a whole new light.
Incandescent bulb vs led bulbs: A quick comparison
The table below compares incandescent and LED bulbs in terms of lifespan, to energy consumption, and a variety of choices.
|Lifespan||Short. Incandescent bulbs tend to burn out after only a few thousand hours. Expect to replace bulbs frequently if your pinball machine is used regularly for long periods of time.||Up to 10 times longer-lasting compared to incandescent bulbs. Consider the time you have to spend switching out bulbs and you will quickly realize that LEDs are much more efficient.|
|Energy consumption||Excessive. Incandescent lights are among the largest energy consumers in pinball machines. It’s well known in pinball circles that some places pay over $10,000 in utility bills for four-day events that showcase 500+ pins.||Reduced energy consumption. By their very design, LED bulbs use much less energy than incandescent bulbs. Some pinball machines that have been upgraded to LEDs show a 50% reduction in power consumption.|
|Choice||Limited bulbs available in most cases: 44/47, 906, 555, and 89, all with the same lens type and color.||More than a dozen different colors, brightnesses, lens types, special bulbs, and special effects. It’s possible to achieve modifications that weren’t possible back when the pinball machine was originally designed.|
How in LED lights can indirectly improve a playfields’ life
The biggest problem with the incandescent bulbs that originally came with pinball machines is that they produce a lot of heat. And overtime, that heat can warp, melt, and fog plastics. Even worse, they can cause sunken, lifted, or cupped playfield inserts, ultimately creating uneven playfield surfaces that become prone to damage from balls and affect the path of these balls in unexpected ways.
Incandescent bulbs are also notorious for their heavy current load, putting a lot of stress on pinball machines—particularly on the backbox components and connectors.
Switching to LED lights can reduce this load. It can extend the life of components and connectors in the backbox while reducing heat on inserts, backglasses, and plastics. It can also help you preserve the original artwork on the machine.
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