Art Show Battery Powered Lighting

Does anyone use a booth lighting system that uses a battery?. I
will be in several shows this year where I have to be open after
dark, and no electricity is supplied. Thanks very much. Allyson

Bob & Allyson Gernandt
240 N. Panther Branch Road
Bryson City NC 28713

I use a deep cell boat battery and a 12 volt lighting system for
outdoor shows. A friend did the wiring for me so I can’t tell you
much about that. You need to keep your lights to a minimum to keep
from using up the power in your battery too quickly. Good luck

Contact <> these folks used to make a complete
set up for battery operation. I do not know if they still do or not. Bill

Allyson, I have some small focus-able halogen spots that work very
well, but the batteries only last 3-4 hours. I got them at Radio
Shack for around $8 each. They’re great to beef up lighting in
jewelery cases, but pretty pricey from the standpoint of battery
costs. I’d be interested in hearing more from others, too.


Hi Allyson, You might want to look at,
click on the ‘battery integrated’ products button. We bought the
littlest battery pack (xpower 300) for our camper from them. It works
great for us, though I have to note the only demand we’ve put on it
is the camper’s built in 15v lights. I’ve been thinking that combined
with some of the new low-watt flourescents coming out with more
natural light it might be just the thing for ‘into evening’ shows.

It might be cheaper to buy a deep cycle battery and inverter and
charger, but it’s just so durned convenient to have it all there.
They come ready to go, you can plug in a regular household plug or a
cigarette lighter style plug. It can also be charged both ways, plug
it in in the house or motel room, or charge it in the car via the
cigarette lighter. And being all self contained they at least look
safer than jumper cables and a battery.

You can see similar ones at places like Checker Auto, or even
Wal-Mart. But our neighbor has one and ours seems to have more
staying power. Has to do with the battery type they put in them I

Hope this is helpful!

This should be fairly easy to assemble yourself. There’s two things
to consider to make up a useful design, the lamps and the size of the
battery you’ll need.

For the lamps, check with a good lighting store, a discount auto
parts catalog (perhaps JC Whitney), and with a recreation vehicle
dealer to find lampholder designs that would work for your situation.
Keep a record of voltage and wattage needs of each lamp. Once you
determine how many you’ll need, you can add up the total wattage.

Now for the battery selection - the total current to run the lights
is found by dividing the total wattage by the voltage. For
instance, if you need nine lights at 32 watts each, that’s 288 watts
of power required. If it’s a 12 volt system, you will be drawing
288/12 = 24 amps of current to keep the lights at full brilliance.

Batteries are rated by voltage and by ampere-hours of capacity. To
run the above lights, you need a 12 volt battery. These are very
common. If you go with a 24 volt lighting system, you can use two of
these batteries in series.

The capacity number (ampere-hours) will tell you how long you’ll be
able to run your lights on a fully charged battery. Basically, if
the example system of 9 lights requires 24 amps of current and you
want to run the lights for 5 hours, you will require a battery with
at least 24 x 5 = 120 ampere-hours of capacity.

New batteries will be able to deliver their rated capacity, but as
they age, they won’t last as long. This same principle applies to
many things. So you might want to look for a battery with extra
capacity. However, more capacity means a heavier battery to carry
around and a more expensive piece to buy.

One other note, batteries come in two basic types - floaters and deep
cycle. Floaters are used in cars and trucks. They will not perform
well for your lighting application. Deep cycle batteries are used in
golf carts and fork lifts. They’re made to provide heavy and steady
power until they’re exhausted. You can try a car battery, but a deep
cycle will be much better. And yes, they are more expensive.

Finally, batteries don’t last long if they’re left uncharged. You
can ruin a floater car battery if you discharge it all the way and
leave it for a day without recharging it. Plug your batteries in as
soon as you get to a source of power.

Brad Smith
Los Angeles

Hello. I remember, years ago, seeing a product at Jay’s (a hunting/
sports store in northern MI).

It was a “carrying case” for car/ marine batteries. It even had a
indicator of the amount of charge left in the battery. It was about
the best way I’ve seen to carry these large, heavy batteries safely

Although they are large and heavy they would be the way I would go
because they will hold lots of power. They could be recharged from a
car or a AC charger overnight back at the motel room (with a trickle
charger or higher powered charger).

Used with an inverter they would power higher voltage (110-120)
lights. Anymore, I carry an inverter in my car with me at al times -
and it gets used occasionally.


    Allyson, I have some small focus-able halogen spots that work
very well, but the batteries only last 3-4 hours.  

G’day; although I do not show jewellery I had the urge to jump in
here with a suggestion. In the case of there being little or no
electricity available, nobody seems to have suggested propane gas
lighting in a proper unit with an incandescent mantle. These lamps
can be very bright and the gas is cheap and portable, but of course
can’t be used in a showcase. Perhaps one solution would be to light
one’s booth or stall generally with gas lighting and to use a very
few halogen lamps in the showcases with a truck battery for power.

I am of an age where I remember the High Street stalls all lit in
early winter evenings with naked naphtha FLARES!! – Cheers for now,

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ

Hi Folks My husband, who happens to be a master electrician, figured
out a way to convert an upright dolly, plastic milk crate, and an
old barstool into a portable powerstation for me to use at the
various outdoor markets I attend. As I am under a tent, I sometimes
have lighting problems in order to make my jewellery and crystals
look good. An added benefit is that there is a bonus use as a high
stool so I sit at eye level with my customers.

The criteria I had were as follows:

a… it had to be portable

b… I had to have lights that were the right color for jewellery.
After all a customer doesn’t like to see green skin :), and amethyst
fades under fluorescents.

c… It had to be easy to set up, move, use, and recharge as I am not
an electrician.

d… And it had to be relatively cheap to put together. I sent the
instructions directly to Bob and Allyson as they are quite
lengthily. If anyone else is interested please email me direct and I
will send these instructions out to you. Feel free to modify to suit
your own specifics.

Karen Seidel-Bahr
the ‘ROCKLADY’ @Rocklady
K.I.S. Creations
May your gems always “Sparkle”

   It was a "carrying case" for car/ marine batteries.  It even
had a indicator of the amount of charge left in the battery.  It
was about the best way I've seen to carry these large, heavy
batteries safely around.  

my husband sells these in his business. I have thot they would be
an excellent way to power lites. they run about 90 dollars apiece,
I believe. Check automotive stores for these- anne/jewelrywoman

 nobody seems to have suggested propane gas lighting in a proper
unit with an incandescent mantle. 

'ello John Burgess! In the overly litigious society that has evolved
here in the states, I believe show promoters would pounce on any
artist who was using combustible fuels in his booth. They’d probably
be nervous about battery acid, too, if they took the time to think
about it. Many show applications state that tents and table skirts
must have a manufacturer’s tags intact stating the materials are
flame retardant, and some shows are now requiring exhibitors to
carry liability insurance! This might work for an impromptu or
grass-roots show, but probably not for an organized and managed

On the subject of DC-to-AC inverters… I’ve had two of them, and
they both seem to have burned out after one or two uses! Is there
some secret I’m missing? The first might have overheated as I had it
enclosed in a housing, but the second was out in the open. The things
only come with a 90 day warranty… which, in my mind, isn’t very
long for something of that nature! The first time I use it might be
more than 90 days after purchase!

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

and some shows are now requiring *exhibitors* to carry liability

I would say, MOST SHOWS, are now requiring liability insurance.
And, I hate to say, that most do not allow any “flames” whether
enclosed or open (at least in this part of the country -Midwest.)
So, any fuel powered lighting would be out of the question. Some
even frown on using “electrical outlets” provided by the cities in
which the show is held.