By Frank Schabell > Lead Lighting Design at Pro Church Lights
The use of haze in churches is often a hotly debated topic. It’s right up there with “should we turn the house lights off during worship” and “let’s paint the sanctuary black and block out all of the windows”.
All kidding aside…Haze, (not to be confused with fog or smoke) is simply another tool that you can implement into your worship service to enhance the worship environment at your church.
Haze may or may not work in every church environment – but should you consider it? Absolutely. And for all of you haze haters reading this – if various tools, creative elements, lighting, etc create an environment that draws people in so that they can hear the greatest message on Earth – then why wouldn’t you consider various elements that help accomplish that? We’re not here to judge – and neither should you. Ok, let’s get to it – let’s talk Haze!
Haze, is an atmospheric effect produced by a water or oil based fluid that is heated and outputted by a hazer. This atmospheric effect is most commonly used to make lighting and lighting effects visible, and to create a specific sense of mood or atmosphere.
When done right, haze is very subtle and will make a HUGE impact to the atmosphere and visual look of the room. Adjust the slider below to see what a church auditorium looks like before and after haze.
If you’ve been looking to create a worship environment that is intimate, comfortable and current – haze may be the answer. Once again, haze is not for every church, but if your church is already dimming the house lights during worship, does not have any windows in the auditorium, is wanting to have a more visually appealing and engaging worship environment and live stream – then haze is most likely a great fit for your church.
Haze can be powerful when utilized properly. Haze greatly impacts stage lighting for the better by helping beams of light become visible and defined. This adds to the overall scenery, style, and creative appearance of the stage.
So – maybe you’re already sold on haze and are ready for implementation. If That’s You… then use the form on the left <—–. We’ll email you our Top 3 Hazer Recommendations For Churches… PLUS we’ll send you our haze guide “Quick Start Guide to Amazing Haze”.
If you’re still unsure about using haze at your church, before saying “no”, let’s first discuss some of the misconceptions of haze and talk about the advantages it affords towards your stage lighting.
“It’s making our church look like a rock concert vs a worship service!”
In my years of designing and programming lighting for churches, a concern that I have heard from pastors is the fear that worship would become a “show”. True, haze is commonly used in concerts, but the programmers are using haze to amplify their lighting for maximum impact.
Haze when used properly helps the lights have more definition and texture, thus creating impactful looks. These looks are not meant to distract from the performer, but instead they help emphasize what is being sung from stage. This is the reason why haze is used so frequently in professional productions. Even though the application of haze may seem to be a tool used for pop concerts, we as the church can utilize it to help create more engaging worship environments. Apply the concept for your context!
Since most concerts take place in large venues, you must use appropriate levels of haze for your space. In church consider using haze to help lights to become more defined vs covering the room in thick haze.
A common mistake made… is to haze so much that it spills out into the lobby space. Try using only enough haze to cover your worship space in a thin layer of haze and be sure to periodically stop and start the haze output to maintain proper levels. With some discretion, haze can help bring lighting for worship to another level.
“Smoke machines will set off the fire alarms!”
Unfortunately, there are some environments that will be more sensitive to haze than others. A large church in Chicago, that I have contracted at as a lighting designer, for years strictly only used haze once or twice a year. The reasoning for this is that at some point in their 40 years as a church, fire alarms were triggered by overusing the amount of haze needed to enhance the lighting.
The policy from that point on was to strictly only haze for Christmas or Easter services. This church has been a shining example of what church production can look like, amazingly with very little to no haze in their lighting. It’s important to restate this: Great Lighting can be achieved without haze. Haze is simply a tool in a lighting designer’s tool belt.
Now, within the past few years this same church’s policy on haze has shifted to using haze regularly in their worship space. What happened you may ask? After years of trust built between the lighting director and leadership, as well as many tests, it was determined that haze could be utilized without triggering fire alarms. This is where trust being made between you and leadership comes into place.
If there was a bad past experience with haze, it does not mean that that experience is still a current reality. With some careful settings made to your haze machine, thorough testing, and research of your space, accurate data can be presented to leadership and an informed decision can be made. A dangerous rut that many secular organizations and churches get stuck in is “this is how we have always done it”, be open to new ideas as well as submit humbly to leadership.
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“It’ll cause an asthma attack!”
Another misconception that we have heard in our collective years in production is a concern that haze will cause asthma attacks. In my experience in hazing in large venues to small venues, I have yet to cause an asthma attack by using haze.
Oftentimes, this fear is brought up with genuine concern for those with asthma, rest assured haze fluid is made with materials that are nontoxic. Again, with proper equipment, some proper testing and intentionality on the amount used, haze can be a very light mist that helps lighting “pop” for worship.
There are both oil and water based options for haze fluid. Pro Church Lights highly recommends water based haze for quick dissipation. Oil based haze does tend to have a longer hang time; however, depending on the haze machine haze fluid residue may build up inside of lights. When using an oil based haze it is important to be cautious about the amount of haze used next to lights.
IMPORTANT! Don’t go out and buy the cheapest haze machine you can find!
The BIGGEST mistake we see when it comes to churches purchasing a haze machine is they simply go out and buy the cheapest hazer they can find. BIG MISTAKE. Another mistake we see is a church will buy a fog machine. Yeah – don’t do that.
If you buy a cheap haze machine – be ready for a ton of comment card complaints. Cheap hazers are loud, produce thick particle haze, output unevenly and have long warm up times.
Inside of a hazer there are liquid pumps, a heater, fans, valves and control boards. These parts need to be maintained frequently to extend the life of your haze investment. Buy a solid machine to maximize your budget long term.
Here are the average costs when it comes to adding haze to your worship environment. The costs outlined here is for a setup that is specific to churches. Churches need a haze machine that is quiet, produces small haze particles and has quick warm up times.
Haze Machine Cost = $650 – $1500 (anything cheaper will be a waste of your valuable budget). Want 3 haze machine recommendations for your church? Fill out the form to the left on this page and we’ll email you our recommendations of the 3 Best Hazers for Churches.
Haze Fluid Cost = $180/year (you’ll most likely go through 1 gallon of fluid every 2 months. It’s important that you put the correct fluid stated by the manufacture into the machine. Once again – don’t buy the cheapest haze fluid you can find. That will lead to hazer failure quickly, not to mention void the warranty).
Hazer Maintenance = $100/year (budget time to clean the machine and internal parts. Also be ready to purchase replacement filters, pump or valves if you don’t perform the scheduled maintenance called out in the instruction manual.
When it comes to using haze, it can be powerful if utilized properly. Used well, haze can help emphasize what is being communicated from stage, enhance the entire worship environment and live stream along with create a comfortable atmosphere that is current.
It’s key to know your room and your congregation when deciding on whether to haze or not to haze. Much like any production element, haze is another tool in the programmers tool belt. It may or may not be necessary for your church to utilize this tool. If you would like to consider using haze, take time to do research of your space and seek counsel in its proper use. All of us at Pro Church Lights believe in utilizing the right tools to help communicate the gospel. When the church wins, we all win and we do that by helping the message of hope be brought forth. – Frank Schabell
Frank Schabell is Manager of Install Support and Lighting Design at Pro Church Lights. He is passionate about using art and technology to communicate the greatest story ever told. Check out his work on ProChurchLights.com or follow him on Instagram @frankschabell.
Ready for Haze? Use the contact form on this page and we’ll email you our Top 3 Hazer Recommendations For Churches… PLUS we’ll send you our popular haze guide “The Ultimate Guide to Amazing Haze”. If you’re still unsure about using haze to enhance your stage lighting at your church, message us using the contact form and we’ll do our best to answer your questions in a timely manner.