ETC and Echoflex take balloon museum to new heights

Date Posted: 12/19/2017

The Balloon Museum’s Great Hall

The Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque showcases the beauty, ingenuity and history of lighter-than-air flight in a building that has become a beloved landmark in its hometown. Thanks to new control products from ETC and their partner Echoflex Solutions they were able to modernize their lighting control, offering a dynamic lighting environment that was also more energy efficient. 

Dynamic Lighting

The Museum doesn’t just house balloons, it also is meant to look like one. Its striking facade is the silhouette of a hot air balloon, with the top of the building a dome—newly washed with color-changing LED fixtures. The museum wanted to take advantage of capabilities of the LED fixtures and reinforce the iconic nature of the building. The solution was an ETC Unison Paradigm system. Lighting looks were programmed into the system and now the museum staff can choose custom colors for different holidays or special events. 

“Because we are used a lot and we do a lot of activities all year round in the very early morning or late at night, it gives us a way to add an element of beauty to the building,” says Paul D. Garver, manager of the Museum. He has plans to let the lights react to weather conditions like temperature, wind speed and more, and when he’s ready to do that ETC’s system will be able to accommodate that as well. As it is, the lights are still a big hit. “They’re a living, breathing part of what’s going on and it’s a big benefit to us.” 

The Paradigm system is also a hit inside. The Museum’s event spaces are now easily changeable thanks to Paradigm control and the 7-inch Touchscreen station. Positioned near the ballrooms, the museum can easily shift preset looks in the ballrooms, showcasing the flexibility of the space. 

“We use the Touchscreen and its ease of use as a selling point to potential clients,” says Garver. “Everyone is really impressed.”

Echoflex Solutions technology also helps out in the gathering spaces. Echoflex TAP daylight sensors communicate wirelessly with their dimmers, automatically dimming lights to conserve energy and ensuring a space is always lit correctly. High-ceilinged event spaces are well-served by MOS high-ceiling occupancy sensors. The sensors charge via solar energy, so batteries never need replacing, and the excellent transmission range, along with tuned-sensor circuitry mean the lights quickly come on when needed. 

Echoflex technology controls lights around exhibits

The Great Hall

ETC and their partner made a big impact on the museum’s exhibit spaces as well. The museum’s Great Hall is enormous — it has to be in order to house balloon artifacts and models of gigantic zeppelins. While the lighting for these exhibits was simple, turning it on was anything but. 

“We were going around having to manually turn everything on in the morning and off in the evening,” says Garver. “It was a huge hassle and a big waste of time.” 

Fixing the problem was complicated by the fact the large exhibit halls and soaring ceilings necessary for the exhibits made re-wiring the museum cost prohibitive. The museum also wanted to upgrade the lighting controls in their event spaces. With the purchase of LEDs for the space, the Museum felt they could realize even more energy efficiency, but had no infrastructure to install remote sensors and controls. 

Paradigm controls lighting on the façade

The solution to both problems was wireless power control solutions from Echoflex Solutions. Self-powered, wireless wall switches from Echoflex gave the museum the flexibility to place control where they needed it and had the power to cover their large spaces. Other wireless control products only send signal 70 feet — hardly enough for the Museum. Echoflex Solutions products have a much longer communication range, and can send signals up to 300 feet. The Echoflex products integrate seamlessly with ETC’s Paradigm system, so scheduling the exhibits to automatically power on and off was a breeze. 

And the exhibits are, ultimately, what the museum is all about. “Museums are educational and engaging venues,” says Garver. “We’re always looking for creative ways to get people involved and connected to us, lighting is one way to do that.” Now, thanks to ETC and Echoflex Solutions, it’s easier than ever for the museum to take its patrons to new heights.