Dechen Cave reloaded - April 2015


Made by Cave Lighting™ - Dechenhöhle / Dechen Cave

Location:                                         Iserlohn, North Rhine Westphalia, Germany

Position:                                          51°21'56,43"N / 7°38'39,81“E

Show cave part:                               360 m

Show cave since:                            1868

Execution time:                                November 2014 – February 2015

Equipped with:                                 467 Luminaries total power ca. 1.745 W

Previous power consumption:           28.000 W

One of our reputable projects was completed in February 2015. The Cave Lighting™  teamis proud of having completely refurbished one of the most famous show caves of Germany after a seven years project time.

We first met the Dechen Cave team, Elmar Hammerschmidt and Stefan Niggemann, in May 2008. The first lighting tests in Dechen Cave were performed during the annual meeting of the German Cave and Karst Association (VdHK: Verband deutscher Höhlen- und Karstforscher e.V.). In doing this, we wanted to make sure that the LED light would perfectly fit into the structural conditions of Dechen Cave. The results were so good that we were immediately able to get Stefan Niggemann as a supporter for the use of LED in show caves.

Lighting test 2008. Color lights.  Travel Kit 2008 in Dechen cave.

Next, in 2009 and 2010, two smaller LED installations followed in Kanzelgrotte, where about 40 LED lamps including Cave Lighting™ control were installed, respectively. Right from the planning stage of these LED systems we took into consideration the complete development of the show cave. Therefore, these sections were designed in such a way that they could be integrated into a larger system without difficulty at a later date.

This test system in Dechen Cave was in use until autumn 2014 and was often demonstrated and explained to our potential customers. In doing this, we were able to get on board show cave operators and planners from Ireland, Russia, the Czech Republic, etc. for the advantages of controlled LED lighting. What made the test lighting so special is that it was installed within the areas of old illumination so that a direct comparison between old and new illumination was possible. The visual advantage of the LEDs was perfectly obvious.

After about five years of service-free operation of the test lighting, the decision was finally made in 2014 to replace the old illumination with a new Cave Lighting™ LED system.

During the planning stage, carried out by the planning office R. Fohlert, it was decided to keep the existing 400/230 VAC electrical system and to only modernize the obsolete equipment (fuses, earth leakage circuit breakers, etc.) of the sub-distribution cabinets.

In general, you should concentrate on lighting design and installation when planning a new LED installation in a show cave. However, the 400/230V system has to be continually updated to state-of-the-art specifications!

Of course, using the old electrical system of Dechen Cave, in particular the sub-distribution cabinets, main conductors, etc. offered several advantages. These include the reduction of material costs, the use of existing cable trays and ducts and the further use of the high-quality main cable. This, however, resulted in a few complications during the planning and the implementation stages. Examples to mention are the time-consuming search for and clearing of old cable ducts. Cost-benefit estimates are often not foreseeable with unknown and old installations. But the problem was excellently solved by the planning office and the Cave Lighting™ experts. A totally new installation of the 400/230 VAC system would certainly have increased the project costs by at least 75%.

In November 2014 the Cave Lighting™ team started to implement the project. The construction works took about 10 weeks. The new system was commissioned in February and first visitors were able to enjoy Dechen Cave in new splendor.

What has been done?

For us, a new installation in a show cave is not a standard task like the installation in a house, for instance, with straight walls and defined cable runs. The Cave Lighting™ experts (all cavers) pay attention to how the lighting in their places of work is engineered, for instance, which influence it has on the visitor, how the fixtures are installed and tucked away, how the lighting cables are routed and much more.

Features of the new lighting of Dechen Cave:

On 10th April 2015 the show cave was officially reopened.

From the Cave Lighting™ team’s point of view the lighting system of Dechen Cave (Dechenhöhle) is one of our best installations. We also hope that this installation will have a determining influence on future installations in show caves.

Herborn, April 2015

Alexander Chrapko, Oliver Heil

Cave Lighting™ Team