From June until August 2014 around 380 LED lamps were installed in the Dome. The lighting was then extended into the Great Dome Hall. The visitor penetrates the 5 km long Lurgrotte on good paths to reach daylight again in Peggau. 2 km of the Semriach part on the caved is accessible, 1 km of which belongs to the usual guided tour route.
Lurgrotte / Semriach, Styria, Austria
|location:||Semriach, Styria, Austria|
|position:||47°17'3,9"N / 15°42'8,8“E|
|length of guided tour:||1000 m|
|modification:||May - August 2014|
|number of lamps, power consumption:||382 lamps, 2,000 watts|
|previous power consumption:||25,000 watts|
Under participation of GermTec GmbH & Co KG and on invitation by the SAH e.V. (Speläologische Arbeitsgemeinschaft Hessen [spelelogical work group, Hesse]), a delegation of the VÖH (Verband Österreichischer Höhlenforscher[Austrian Speleological Association]) made up from the section for show cave operators and active speleologists spent two days in Breitscheid in order to view the surrounding Karst area and its caves, including Herbstlabyrinth. In doing so they were given the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the Cave Lighting™ Project.
During a tour of Austria in 2013 contact to the Lurgrotte was intensified. Owner Andreas Schinnerl was just preparing the modification of his cave and received us with a warm welcome. Shortly after the visit the Cave Lighting team reappeared to carry out the planning for the Great Cave Dome.
The visitor penetrates the 5 km long Lurgrotte on good paths to reach daylight again in Peggau. 2 km of the Semriach part on the caved is accessible, 1 km of which belongs to the usual guided tour route. To begin with one is accompanied by the Lurbach, which however soon disappears into yet unknown depths of the cave before the visitor reaches the realm of the speleothems. They bear mysterious names: the Giant, the Leaning Tower, the Hermit, the Gypsy’s Tent – one’s imagination knows no limits in this underground cosmos.
The route finds its way through narrow passages, halls and recesses to the Bear’s Grotto, where the remains of cave bears were found, bears that lived in central Europe during the ice age before becoming extinct. Following a short ascent one of the highlights of the tour is reached, the Great Dome. Its dimensions are above all impressive: with a length of 120 m, a width of 80m and reaching a height of 40 m it belongs to the largest chambers found in the show caves of Europe!
From June until August 2014 around 380 LED lamps were installed in the Dome. The lighting was then extended into the Great Dome Hall. The Bear’s Hall and the Brother’s Hall as well as a platform at the swallet of the Lurbach were fitted out with further lamps as part of the project.
As the route in the Great Dome is circular, the installation of the lamps to prevent any blinding was quite a challenge, especially as this path is taken in the opposite direction for special tours.
This, along with the connection of the desired complicated switching functions to the old system and the creation of a three dimensional lighting effect in such a huge chamber were the main requirements of the customer.
Decisive for the visitor is, however, the completely new experience within the cave. The old lighting was unable to fully illuminate the Great Dome and the path lighting blinded the viewers to a large extent. It lent the cave a consistently dull impression; the dimensions of the Great Dome could hardly be perceived. The already existing music and coloured light show was retained and connected to the new Cave Lighting system.
Because the previous electrical system with its five subdistributors was not only outdated but had also suffered from the frequent floods that occur every year, a local electrical contractor was engaged to assist in dealing with this problem. Our experience proves that it makes no sense to install a new LED lighting system without taking the whole situation into account, not only from an electrical point of view but also with regard to light design. Following our advice all electrical distributors up to the Great Dome were renewed, sufficient electrical bonding attained and lightning and power surge protection installed.
Thus, the Cave Lighting team was able to enhance the highlights of the tour. That is, to bathe the Dripstone Paradise, Bell, Violinist, Belvedere and Giant in impressive new light, allowing a new appreciation of nature’s creations – augmenting the attraction of the Lurgrotte in Semriach which will lead to a significant increase in visitors.
We wish to heartily thank Andreas Schinnerel and his family for their excellent cooperation and recommend not only the ambience created by the new LED lighting but also - because the way to true happiness goes through the stomach – the “Kulinarium”, a culinary experience that takes place in the cave several times a year.
The Lurgrotte shines in new LED splendour
At a cost of around 250,000 Euros a flood-proof lighting and communication system was installed in the Lurgrotte Semriach. And the Lurbach swallet can now be reached without hindrance.
The new lighting system is based on LED lamps. “We are the first show cave in Austria to employ this ultramodern technology” says owner Andreas Schinnerl. Besides a 75% reduction in energy costs, the highest possible level of safety for visitors to the cave is ensured, for all cables, control cabinets and lamps are completely waterproof. 500 lamps were installed.
In addition, a flood-proof telephone cable was laid allowing communication by mining telephone from three locations. In the event of power failure no-one will be left in the dark as a separate battery operated source provides electricity to every second lamp for one hour.
80% of the modification costs were funded by the EU, the state and the regional council, the remaining 20% will be financed by the owners, the Schinnerl family.
Flood-proof control cabinet. / The new lighting system in its full splendour. / Photos: Oliver Egger