What characteristics have to be taken into consideration when replacing modeling light bulbs?

For instance, can a 240V standard light bulb be plugged into a 90V modeling light bulb socket? How would LED/CFL bulbs react to being put in a flash set (which I guess use a 0-90V voltage range to control the light intensity)?

More specifically, can I use ordinary light bulbs, can I find no-name light bulbs, or should I stick to spare parts from my flashes' manufacturer?

Reference: I use Elinchrom flashes that expect 90V 100W bulbs I can't find under 25€ (yes, I use North American flashes in Europe).


Modeling lights are incorporated into studio flash units to help you previsualize the effect of the lighting setup. Since the flash outputs a blitz of light, we need the modeling lights as a helper to aim the units.

Most flash units will switch off the modeling lamps during the flash. Even if they remain on, the light they output is so feeble, they likely will not contribute anything worth mentioning, including influencing the color balance. Therefore, you can replace the bulbs with most anything that will work.

That being said, if the standard lamp is rated at 90V, you are limited to replacing them with a substitute that is rated within a range of about 10% (80V thru 100V). Lamps run dimmer and redder when under-volted and brighter and bluer when over-volted. Also over-volted lamps have reduced service life.

If it were me, I would rewire the modeling lamps and replace the sockets so that they accepted a commonly available bulb equal to the main voltage. If this is beyond your skill set, then either stick with an exact replacement bulb or hire a local electrician or electronics repair person make the wiring and socket change.

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