One Town Chamber’s Experience with Canto USA’s RETRO Series

The Town of Cary, a diverse and thriving community in the heart of North Carolina, had a dilemma. The ambient lighting in the Town Council Chambers was in dire need of renovation, but LED retrofit solutions were not lining up with their Mission Statement for cost-conscious growth with comprehensive planning for the future. LED retrofits were either too costly, or they offered inferior performance to the existing luminaires and could not be considered a long-term solution. Furthermore, the existing luminaire layout with wide spacing and mini-candelabra lamps was presenting a logistical challenge: any LED retrofit would need to have wide optics, high output, and either replace the entire luminaire or screw into a mini-candelabra base.

Cailen Waddell (Program Supervisor of Technical Operations for the Town of Cary) was charged with finding a solution for the chamber. Cailen’s extensive background in audio, visual, and lighting production made him keenly aware of the Town of Cary’s challenge to find a quality retrofit that would dim smoothly on camera, operate at precise low levels without flickering during council meetings, and integrate with the current lighting controls. Adding to the pressure, the town had recently identified lamp replacements in the Council Chambers as high-risk and potentially hazardous. Maintenance staff were having to change lamps over seating risers, and the slope of the riser system complicated maintenance. The town needed to act quickly, but it also needed to be the right long-term solution.

To explore fixture, control, and logistical options, Cailen called on Bandit Lites’ Andrew Fisher with the Charlotte office. Cailen and Andrew explored replacing luminaires with wireless, wired, and line-voltage dimming options; however, the labor to install new luminaires and costs to update the architectural control system were quickly adding up to put the project overbudget. The Town of Cary needed an LED screw-in retrofit that would outperform their current Halogen lamps while offering the same line-voltage dimming curve and light quality.

Luckily, the team at Canto USA had been steadily working in the background towards the exact solution Cary needed. The initial line of Canto RLED lamps had always offered mini-candelabra sockets, high CRI tungsten performance, wide optics, and smooth, reliable dimming performance, so when Cailen and Andrew reached out to Shawn Harmon of Canto USA, they were surprised to find out that their new RETRO line of fixtures had more than doubled in output. The newer, high output fixtures would allow Cailen to achieve the lighting levels needed for video production, and the wide optics ensured that the council would be evenly lit, even with the current luminaire spacing. Canto USA offered a solution that was as simple as screwing in a light bulb.

With the lamp replacement dilemma solved, the Town of Cary issued a procurement request for the RETRO-Classics. Once in-hand, the maintenance staff climbed their ladders for the last time and were able to complete the retrofit in-house in half a day. The labor costs were minimal, the energy savings were appealing, and the RETRO-Classic cost was exactly what was needed for the high output, high quality retrofit the town needed.

Ultimately, the Town of Cary utilized 20 RETRO-Classic’s, all at a tungsten-perfect 2700 Kelvin CCT. The RETRO series worked flawlessly with their current dimming system, installed in the existing mini-candelabra sockets, and offered a variety of lenses and lamp extensions to make sure that the beam spreads were spot-on and the lamp fit perfectly in the luminaire and minimized glare. “Not only did the lighting look perfect, Canto USA went above and beyond on this project,” said Andrew, “They worked with Cary to send out lamp and lens samples, they swapped out lensing as-needed, and they supported the project at every step of the process. I can’t say enough about the customer service at Canto USA.”

“It worked and was really easy to complete the project and get back to production right away,” said Cailen Waddell. “We’re extremely happy with the house lights and considering the RETRO-HPL for our stage lights.”

The RETRO Series Line of Products

RETRO-Classic™ – Flexibility & Customization

CantoUSA RETRO-Classic Series Product Photo

The RETRO-Classic our original 0-100% phase dimmable (forward and reverse) variable wattage LED 2700K-6500K 80-97 CRI engine retrofit house light and most customizable RETRO in the entire RETRO family. They are heavier than the Fusion, yet lighter than Passive.

RETRO-Passive® – Absolute Silence

CantoUSA RETRO-Passive Series Product Photo

Being fanless, the RETRO-Passive is perfect for sound-sensitive spaces like museums and concert halls. They also have heavier heat sinks to compensate for not having active cooling.

RETRO-Fusion™ – Lighter & Smaller

CantoUSA RETRO-Fusion Series Product Photo

With the RETRO-Fusion being lighter and lower profile, along with a beveled top edge, it is able to squeeze into more shallow fixtures without having the lens protrude from the front of the trim ring. That reduces any type of glare. This new design opens up more opportunities and applications.

RETRO-PAR – PAR Lamp Replacement

CantoUSA RETRO-Par Series Product Photo

The RETRO-PAR is easy to replace/install, modular, and customizable. Customizable features include active or passive cooling, different wattage outputs, and different optical beam spreads. It comes in PAR 38, 46, 56, and 64 styles, as well as custom.

RETRO-HPL Series Availability

CantoUSA RETRO-HPL Product Photo

The RETRO-HPL is a direct replacement for existing Source 4 PARs in the marketplace, especially those used for house lights.

About CantoUSA

Founded in 2013, Canto USA is a manufacturer of houselight retrofits and followspots. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to our mission: “Our customers come first. In order to do this, we continuously train our team on the latest trends and needs of the industry, while at the same time becoming a trendsetter in the development of new products and technology that no other company has available.” 

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Community Presbyterian Church Shines Even Brighter With Our RETRO-Fusion™ Series

Community Presbyterian Church in Celebration, Florida has over 800 members. With multiple worship services during the week and a busy line-up of events, the church found the existing incandescent halogen bulbs inadequate. Carter Wanzek, Technical Director and a former stagehand for 5 to 6 years, was kind enough to speak with us about how they came to choose the RETRO series.

“The halogen bulbs were getting so hot that they were melting into the sockets, even in the middle of service. We would occasionally hear a ‘pop,’ look over, and the light in that area was gone. The appeal of LED retrofits was a “no-brainer” and drew us to purchasing twenty-three of Canto USA’s RETRO-Fusion™ 500s.”

Updating of the auditorium was great because of the power savings of LED, longer lasting light, perfect fit into existing sockets, and better light coverage spread across the sanctuary floor. The pendants, pictured below, are 20-25 feet off the ground. Community Presbyterian members noticed how much brighter the lights were, and how much easier it is to see everyone in the room.

Community Presbyterian Church RETRO-Fusion™ Install

CantoUSA RETRO-Fusion Install Community Presbyterian Church
CantoUSA RETRO-Fusion Install Community Presbyterian Church
CantoUSA RETRO-Fusion Install Community Presbyterian Church

“The church staff and members are pleased with their new lights.”

RETRO-Fusion™ – Lighter & Smaller

CantoUSA RETRO-Fusion 500 Product Photo

With the RETRO-Fusion being lighter and lower profile, along with a beveled top edge, it is able to squeeze into more shallow fixtures without having the lens protrude from the front of the trim ring. That reduces any type of glare. This new design opens up more opportunities and applications.

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Customizing RETROs to Your Needs

The RETRO series was designed and patented around the idea that it’s a singular, modular LED engine that we can make a wide variety of attachments to best fit the lights into your specific can sizes. We frequently do custom orders for all the unique needs of the different venues we provide lighting for.

The bases we offer are Edison (E26), mini candelabra (E11), and bare wire. We have short, medium, and tall E11 and E26 base options. We can also do custom extensions for all bases, and we offer E39 screwbase adapters as well as BA15D Socket adapters so that our units can fit into those fixtures. The slopes of the reflectors allow for different depths. PAR rings that we offer are PAR 38, 46, 56, 64. Color temperatures range from 2700K, 3000K, 3500K, 4000K, to 5000K.

If you let us know the dimensions you require and aren’t sure whether the RETRO will be a good fit, our custom department can build a sample for you to try. Rance Brewster, our Special Projects Coordinator, builds the demo fixture according to specifications, creates a serial number for it, and tests its light output for 24 hours. Rance uses several computer programs in his work in the custom department, including 3D Drafting, a 3D printing program, and a simulation-style program that allows him to make a 3D replica of clients’ spaces. The 3D simulations we run help to show our clients how much more light output they will be getting in their space. Additionally, the simulation allows us to remotely advise on optical layouts, selecting which reflectors need to go into which fixture. The fixtures’ foot-candle output and overall power consumption information is included in the documentation sent to the customers.

We at CantoUSA really enjoy the challenges of working on custom orders, and expanding our available options for you. If you have a special need or just want to give us a unique challenge, please feel free to reach out to our sales staff, and they will be more than happy to assist.


CantoUSA RETRO-Classic Series Product Photo

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CantoUSA RETRO-Passive Series Product Photo

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