How Does a Disco Ball Work?

How Does a Disco Ball Work?

Disco Balls have been used since the 1920s, became popular in the 1970s during the Disco era, and have made a comeback lately, both at the center of the dance floor and as home décor.

After all this time, there is no denying the staying power,  but have you ever wondered how does a disco ball works?

For a disco ball to work properly, it must be connected to a motor on a stand or the ceiling. The surface of the ball is comprised of many tiny mirrors.  As the mirror ball rotates it will reflect light that is directed at it throughout the room.

Before you decide to purchase a disco ball or try to install one right out of the box, let’s talk about the components in more detail so you can make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck.

The Disco Ball

Disco Balls, often called Mirror or Glitter Balls, come in many different sizes. Selecting the right ball size is the very first step in getting the party off to a good start.

How Big Is A Disco Ball?

A standard disco ball has a radius of 4 to 72 inches or about 10 to 183cm. Smaller sizes (less than 4 inches) can be found but they are not practical for actual use.

A Very Big Disco Ball

How Much Does A Disco Ball Weigh?

The weight of a disco ball varies relative to the dimensions and material of the ball, rod, and mirrors.  You can expect a quality 16-inch disco ball to weigh between 12-18 pounds.

Knowing the weight of a disco ball before you buy is an important step as a heavy ball can have some limitations. If you want to mount it, you will need to make sure the ceiling can handle it. If you want to transport it, you have to make sure it will not be a burden.

Weight will also be a deciding factor when choosing a motor, with a heavier ball requiring a more powerful motor.

What Size Is Right For You?

That depends, on many factors such as, the size of your space, where do you plan to hang it, and what the height of the ceiling is. So what is the best disco ball?

In most cases, a 12” or 16” would be the best disco ball, especially in a smaller room. If you are using it for a wedding reception party, for example, you may want to go with a 20”. Most Disc-jockeys are using a 16” or 20” disco ball.

The size of the ball will determine what type of motor you’ll need as well as how the ball should be hung, what stand to get, or even how many pinspot lights to aim for maximum reflection.

Best Disco Balls

What Is A Disco Ball Made Of?

Disco Balls are usually made from styrofoam, polystyrene, cardboard, or a solid plastic core. The tiny mirrored tiles that are glued around the outside of the ball are made from glass or thin reflective plastic to keep the ball light.

They will have a hanging rod positioned in the center of the ball and the rod will have an eye-hook on the end to attach it to it the motor. Larger glitter balls or high-use balls may require a stronger rod.

Last, but not least, the ball’s surface is covered with hundreds of tiny, mirrored tiles that can dramatically increase the weight of the ball and have an effect on the overall quality.

The Tiles of a Mirrored Ball

After you determine the right size ball, you’ll want to look at the material used for the tiles. If you notice major differences in price from one ball to the next, it’s usually because of the tiles used.

Close Up of the Mirrors on a Disco Ball

Real glass mirrored tiles are of higher quality from a durability and reflection standpoint and will provide extra sparkle.  They will however be much heavier when compared to other options.

If this is a DIY project, real glass mirror can be bought in self-adhesive sheets or hand-cut tiles. They also can be found in a variety of colors besides the traditional silver, and have different finishes like gloss or polished.

Mirrored tiles are stuck to the ball by an adhesive like double-sided tape or glue. Disco balls usually have hundreds or even thousands of mirrored tiles.

If you are not looking to have real glass tiles, you can look for balls made of carnival mirrors or foil.

Choosing A Motor For Your Disco Ball

For your disco ball to spin and project tiny spotlights all around the room, you’ll need a motor. There are a few things to consider when determining what motor is best for your setup.

Let’s go back to size for a moment. The size, and more importantly the weight of your ball will be the biggest factor when deciding on a motor. Some small battery-powered motors claim to be capable of handling 12”, 16”, and even 20” balls. But I would not recommend these to anyone. You do not want to cheap out on your motor.

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Stationary, heavy-duty motors have few limitations with the size and weight they can handle. Typically, a heavy-duty motor should have no problem rotating a 30-pound ball.

Some motors are capable of supporting 40” balls and more. Just remember to read the fine print on the product information page before you commit.

The other feature to considering when choosing a motor is the RPM (Revolutions Per Minute). RPMs measure how many rotations your disco ball can make every minute.

The higher the RPM, the faster the ball will spin (anything above 6 RPM is considered high). A high RPM is common for a nightclub cut not suited for a home or smaller parties unless you want your guests’ heads spinning like the ball.

The average speed for a mirror ball motor is 2-3 RPMs, but a slow RPM, like 1 or 1.5 can have a more dramatic effect, for a more relaxing and enjoyable experience.

The Pinspot Lights

Pinspots are specialized lighting that have a tight, narrow beam to focused on an object such as centerpieces, signs, artwork, and most importantly, disco balls!

Pinspots can range in price depending on their options. They can vary in size, shape, color, wattage, and portability. Most are built with a metal casing and almost all newer models come with LED bulbs. LED bulbs have a 50,000-hour lifespan on average, so you may never have to replace the bulb.

Power consumption varies based on the wattage of the bulb but once again LED technology has brought this number way down with most lights only requiring 3w – 10w

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Don’t love all the cords? No problem. Because of the low wattage, you can now find rechargeable pinspots on the market. Most rechargeable pinspots last for 4-5 hours with a total life expectancy of 500+ hours, no plug required.

We still recommend wired pin spot lights over wireless unless it is absolutely necessary. The last thing you want is your lights going out when the party is just getting started.

If you come across a unit that is white light only, you can always grab some color lenses separately to change things up.

For a smaller-sized ball (8” to 12”), 1-2 pinspots would be best. If you are hanging a larger ball (16” to 24”), then 3-4 pinspots will be needed for the ultimate effect.

Where you place each spot is a personal preference but our recommendation is to have at least 3 spots to ensure good coverage. One lamp, on opposite sides of the ball then the 3rd located lower (on the floor or if possible) aimed up at the ball.

Try your best to make sure your spotlight is not obstructed by anything that will block the beams (this includes your guests). No one wants a face full of bright light.

Now, the last crucial element to get your groove on is getting that thing up.

How Do You Hang A Disco Ball?

To hang a disco ball you will need to use proper ceiling fixtures like a hook or screws. If your disco ball has a mounting rod, it is best to follow the recommendations included with the device.

An adjustable stand or a mounting bracket is always the best choice

If you purchased a motor, there should be brackets included that can be used to secure it into the ceiling.

The installation is very similar to that of a ceiling fan. If it has a wire for power, make sure it is secure and out of the way. You don’t want the cord dangling or accessible in any way.

How To Install A Mirror Ball

If you are on the go and not looking for a permanent fixture I would recommend a stand instead. They are easy to transport and pop up for an instant party.

There are a variety of stands available online. Look for a stand with a sturdy base or tripod and adjustable is always a good feature. Don’t forget to make sure the build of the stand is enough to handle the size of the ball you decide on.

Even Dogs Love a Good Disco Party

That is all there is to know about disco balls. Classic Disco balls can create some pretty unique effects and are a fun way to complete any party, even if it is not disco themed. I hope the information provided helps you to make an informed buying decision so you can dance the night away.

Last update on 2021-10-28 at 06:18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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