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Renewal of the lighting and paths in the Erdmannshöhle

Erdmannshöhle / Hasel, Southern Black Forest, Germany

location: Hasel, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
position: 47°64'8,8"N / 7°89'5,3“E
length of guided tour: 350 m
showcave since: 1899
modification: Februar – April 2014
number of lamps, power consumption: 165 lamps, 1,000 watts
previous power consumption: 18,000 watts

Following a number of successful projects in the Czech Republic, Italy, Austria and Germany, about which we shall report at a later date, we have finally realised that with which the Cave Lighting Project first began 9 years ago: the redesigning and complete modernisation of the Erdmannshöhle in the Southern Black Forest.

On our initial encounter with the cave in 2005 it was in a very desolate state. Algae grew everywhere, the handrails were rusty and the wooden path construction half rotted.
Although at that time we had not yet made any proper contact with show cave operators, these deficiencies caught the eye of the future Cave Lighting Team. As we have already stated, it was this encounter that led to the foundation of the Cave Lighting Project.
Since then the cave has never left our view and over the years we have intensified our connections to the community of Hasel.

At first it was rather the more practical considerations by the town council of Hasel that led to the renewal of the illumination in the Erdmannshöhle. Due to the reasons stated above, restoration was well overdue and with the new LED lighting both energy and expenditure could be significantly reduced. However, not only the lighting was renewed! Other practical improvements were thought of. The handrails of the tour path were also modernised as the old handrails, consisting of rusting metal pipes that were always very cold due to the low temperature and dampness, were replaced with glass-fibre reinforced materials (GFP) which are much more pleasant to touch. Our tubular lamps were installed in these handrails making a great improvement to the path lighting. In addition, the moulding and dilapidated old wooden bridge and the stairs leading to the fairy-tale lake (Märchensee) were also replaced using GFP.
Since the official inauguration on the 12th. April the visitor to the Erdmannshöhle experiences a completely new ambience in a hitherto unknown light. The complete renewal of the lighting using power-saving LED lamps allows the real splendour of the speleotherms to be properly appreciated for the first time. The characteristics of this monument to nature are greatly enhanced.

„The old lighting consumed 18 kilowatts per hour, but with the new LED lighting we only use one kilowatt per hour“ recounts Mayor Helmut Klima enthusiastically. “That is a significant cost reduction!”

In total around four kilometres of wiring as well as over 500 m of fibre-optic cable were installed, also two new subdistributors as well as a new control and monitoring distributor along with 260 lamps.

The visitor can now experience the cave in a completely different way. The previous illumination was far too bright and dazzled almost everywhere. The glaring light gave the cave a dull impression, uniform in colour contrast, hiding the natural tint of the individual speleotherms. The new cold white light and above all the skilful placing of the lamps present all features at their best and even inaccessible parts of the cave become visible.

A DMX colour lighting system was installed in the part of the cave known as the Bachhöhle (Brook Cave) to attain exceptional colour effects and to create an atmospheric mood. At the end of the round tour of the Rittersaal a musical installation allows the visitor an impressive panoramic view accentuated by an appropriate melody.
Thus two further attractions were added to make the guided tour even more interesting.

In view of the excellent cooperation we heartily thank Mayor H. Klima and the men of the town builder’s yard (for their energetic handling of the earthworks within the cave).

The Cave Lighting Team is now proud of its accomplishment in making a long cherished dream come true: the Erdmannshöhle now shines in a new light!