One of the most frequent questions I get from customers is: "How do I know what parts I need to get started with lighting?" Since starting Brickstuff in 2011, I've always believed anyone could add light to LEGO sets or any hobby creation, no dark wizard knowledge needed. We've created the broadest assortment of components in the entire hobby lighting industry, but customers have told us they sometimes find our product selection confusing.
"Don't you have a light kit for <X> LEGO set?" is also something we hear a lot. Our competitors have taken the approach of creating specific light kits for each LEGO set released, but as a small business that tries to keep as much work inside the USA as possible, this isn't an approach we can take. Not just because of the logistical requirements needed to create hundreds of new kits every year, but also because we don't think it's the best way to make products for customers.
Every customer is different. Some are just starting out, while others have years of experience. Some have a lot of money to spend on lighting, while others want to start small and see how things work for them. Some are starting new, while others already have investments in lighting systems made by other companies. Some want to push the envelope and add features like Internet connectivity and home automation, while others want a simple setup for their desk at work. Some have experience with electronics and have made their own lighting before, while others are put off by electronics terms.
We've thought a lot about how best to meet the needs of every customer, to meet them wherever they're at. After more than three years of planning, I'm thrilled to announce the release of our new lighting system. We call it EasyLight™.
THE EASYLIGHT SYSTEM IN A NUTSHELL
What is this new system? We designed EasyLight™ with three simple goals in mind:
- Easy to Understand. Customers should be able to look at a part (online, in a store, at a convention) and know where it fits into the broader system. It should be easy to know what parts work with what other parts, and what parts are needed to get started.
- Compatible with Everything. Brickstuff isn't the only company making lighting products for your hobby, and we'll never be the biggest or the cheapest. But we do want to give customers the option to connect to every system on the market, to make "everything work with everything else," and to do it all with the same clarity and simplicity as we've incorporated into our core system.
- Modular and Scalable. We want you to be able to start small and grow over time as your needs, budget, and passion change. You should be able to easily add four lights to a small vehicle, and then you should later be able to scale that up to 1,000+ lights in a huge city controlled remotely over the Internet from Alexa, Google Home, or your phone. And you should be able to use the same system, with the same familiar parts, from start to finish.
We began this journey in 2020, and I'm thrilled to share more about it here. I'll cover each of the three goals above in detail below.
EASY TO UNDERSTAND
First and foremost, we wanted to make our assortment of parts and components easier to understand. With the EasyLight™ system, we're sorting our system components into 12 categories (seven core categories and five optional categories), each with its own clear purpose and each with its own color-coding that will be reflected in our new packaging and marketing.
The seven core categories in the EasyLight™ system are:
- Mini Power Packs
- Connecting Packs
- Adapter Packs
- Expansion Packs
- Light Packs
- Specialty Packs
Each of these is described below.
Power Packs and Mini Power Packs
These packs provide power to any setup, using a variety of input power sources. At least one Power Pack or Mini Power Pack is required for each lighting setup. To make things easy, in addition to a power source, each Power Pack or Mini Power Pack includes enough cables and/or adapter boards to connect up to four lights.
The main difference between Power Packs and Mini Power Packs is that Power Packs are designed to operate large numbers of lights-- in most cases, 100 lights or more per Power Pack. By contrast, Mini Power Packs (as their name implies) are designed to power smaller setups: usually, up to four lights.
Why create two categories of power pack? Some of our lights (such as high-power LED lights or LED filaments) use a lot of power, and these won't work well with Mini Power Packs. We wanted a clear answer when customers ask "what do I need to power these lights?" As a general rule, all of our lights will work with Power Packs, but only some will work with Mini Power Packs. How to know? Check the website entry or back of the packaging—we'll do our best to specify if a particular light won't work with a Mini Power Pack.
Connecting Packs include wires and cables needed to expand your lighting setup. Remember, the cables and/or adapter boards needed to get started with up to four lights are included with every Power Pack/Mini Power Pack, so you don't need to worry about adding cables until you're ready to grow. Each Connecting Pack has four cables, and we offer a variety of lengths.
Long-time customers will see two changes with Connecting Packs compared with our legacy product SKUs:
- We're moving toward a "small plug" system for most connections. In the past, we had two sizes of connecting plug: large and small. Other companies adapted our "small plug" as a standard, so we're switching to that for most parts to provide maximum compatibility. There's still a place for "large plug" connections, however, and existing customers should not worry about this conversion! We'll be offering "large plug" Connecting Packs for use in "trunk" connections for large setups (more on this in future articles), and we'll also be offering large-to-small conversion cables for the first time in our history. Many of our adapter boards and effect controllers will continue to have both sizes of connector, and Power Packs/Mini Power Packs will feature at least one "large plug" or include a large-to-small conversion cable to make Power Packs/Mini Power Packs compatible with all existing and legacy Brickstuff components. We'll include clear markings on our packaging and online so you know which size of plug is included in every product.
- We're transitioning to a metric system for cable measurements. In the past, we offered cables in 1.5", 6", 12", and 24" lengths. To allow customers to make apples-to-apples comparisons between our parts and our competitors' parts, we're switching to standard metric lengths: 5cm (2"), 15cm (6"), 30cm (12"), and 50cm (20"). We'll indicate both metric and imperial lengths in our packaging and online.
To help customers easily identify plug sizes, we'll be using three different logos on our product packaging, online, and in our marketing:
In this context, "Large Plugs" means our legacy plug with two tabs. "Small Plugs" means our smaller plug without tabs—this is the plug most of our competitors have adopted for use in their systems. Products that include both sizes of plugs (and thus provide the ability to convert between sizes) will feature the "Large + Small Plugs" icon.
If you're a new Brickstuff customer, you'll mostly be working with small plugs, and everything you buy from us will work together. If you're a long-time customer with existing investments in large-plug products, we've got you covered too! Wherever possible, we've begun including both large and small plugs in our new products. Just look for the "Large + Small Plugs" icon and everything you've purchased in the past will continue to work with everything we'll be releasing in the future.
Expansion Packs feature a combination of cables and adapter boards designed to quickly allow you to scale up your lighting installations. We've designed the Expansion Packs to relate to easy-to-understand scenarios, like adding light to a medium-size LEGO® City building. Over time, we'll be rolling out guidance about which Expansion Pack can be used with which LEGO® or hobby set, so you'll have an easy reference.
Of all the new EasyLight™
system "packs," I'm most excited about this category. Adapter Packs are the key to being "compatible with everything" because with them, you can connect lighting system parts from other companies to and through your Brickstuff system components. So if you've got a streetlamp from Company X but you really like our new Effect Controllers and want to make that streetlamp flicker, you can make that happen using an Adapter Pack. Or if you have lights from Company X and Company Y and don't want to use any other Brickstuff parts, you can pick up an Adapter Pack that will connect Company X to Company Y and you'll be set. Over time we will be publishing more information about which specific adapter boards work with which specific 3rd-party brands of connectors (make sure you're signed up for our new blog
to get the latest news). If you have a connector, company, or voltage we don't support with our Adapter Packs, I want to hear from you! Send us a note
and we'll look into adding an adapter to our product line.
Another benefit of our transition to small plugs as mentioned above: since most other companies have adopted the same small plug standard we created back in 2011, those parts already work seamlessly with any Brickstuff part with a small plug!
Look for Expansion Packs to be rolling out over time, beginning in May 2023.
What's a lighting system without lights? EasyLight™ Light Packs offer a wide range of different lighting components with a variety of different cable lengths. Most Light Packs include four lights; this was done to make them comparable to the packaging offered by our competitors, again to give customers the ability to make apples-to-apples comparisons.
Long-time Brickstuff customers will notice some changes in how we're packaging our lights with the new Light Packs:
- Most lights will be sold in packs of four. We don't plan to offer bulk packs of lights any longer, but we've also adjusted the price of our lights so buying them in 4-packs is now actually less expensive than buying them before in 10-packs.
- Light Packs just include lights. In the past we included adapter boards and sticky squares in many of our light packs. Customers who need sticky squares can now purchase them separately, and the adapter boards are no longer needed now that every Power Pack/Mini Power Pack includes the parts to connect up to four lights to power right out of the box. When expanding, customers can either purchase Connecting Packs and Adapter Packs, or just purchase an Expansion Pack which will have all of the necessary cables and adapter boards for specific situations.
With the introduction of these new Light Packs, we're also selling lights with a wider variety of cable lengths than ever before.
Specialty Packs are products that are hand-made, or made in small quantities, that are designed for a specific use. They differ from standard Light Packs (which can be used anywhere, in any scale or brand of model) because they are pre-installed or mounted inside specific parts. One example would be our flickering LEGO® candles: these are hand-made by us and have a tiny flickering LED pre-mounted inside a LEGO® candle element. In most cases, you won't be able to find Specialty Packs anywhere else, and we'll be making them in limited quantities.
The seven categories above make up the heart of the EasyLight™ system. For customers wanting to "go beyond the basics," we also have five categories of "optional" products (optional in the sense that they are not required for any size lighting setup, but they sure make whatever you create a lot more fun):
Long-time customers know we make some of the best lighting effect controller boards available anywhere, and with the new EasyLight™ versions of these effect controllers, we're raising the bar yet again. Effect Packs will include just the lighting effect controller: all lights, power, cables, and adapter boards will be available separately. Of course, if you already have some lights and a Power Pack/Mini Power Pack, you'll be able to just drop in an Effect Pack to add, for example, flickering fire effects to your setup.
Control Packs will provide added functionality like the ability to turn your lights on or off remotely, or with a built-in timer, or even over the Internet using services like Google Home
, Amazon Alexa
, Home Assistant
, your phone via a 3rd-party app
, or even using web services such as MQTT
Long-time customers also know us for our sound modules, and we're creating a whole new line of them for the EasyLight™ system.
While Automation Packs are still in development at the time of this writing (May 2023), the vision is to provide motion you can add to your models and control. Think of servos that open and close a LEGO® Star Wars docking bay door automatically, or rotating blades on an airplane or helicopter model. We'll be releasing more information about our Automation Packs over time.
We're blessed to have a large and growing base of DIY customers: model builders, people with electronics experience, robotics classes, or just anyone who wants to dig a little deeper and use our parts to make their own great creations. That's the spirit of DIY Packs. More information on these packs will be coming soon.
COMPATIBLE WITH EVERYTHING
As stated at the beginning of this article, a key objective for the EasyLight™ System is to make whatever parts you have work with anything else on the market. Whether that's using an Arduino board
to write your own lighting or servo control code, or whether it's using lighting parts from three companies together with a Brickstuff Internet controller in your cyberpunk creation to be displayed at Brickworld
, I see Brickstuff as the glue that holds everything together, the key to making whatever dreams you have into a reality. As the EasyLight™ product assortment rolls out throughout the remainder of 2023, we hope you'll have more "a-ha!" moments when you see what we've made for your and think about how you're going to put it to use in your amazing creations.
MODULAR AND SCALABLE
The Brickstuff system has always been the single most scalable hobby lighting system available anywhere. Whether it's adding lights to a single LEGO® truck or adding more than 1,000 lights to the largest LEGO® city on Planet Earth, there's a Brickstuff setup that will take you there
and make anything you create even more special. With the introduction of the EasyLight™ System, we're putting your ability to dazzle the world into overdrive.
Although the EasyLight™ System and its components will work in any setup and for any scale or type of model, EasyLight™ won't be the entire Brickstuff product line. EasyLight™ is just one of several offerings from the full Brickstuff assortment. The graphic below shows our full range, and the four major product categories of which EasyLight™ is a part.
Over time, we'll be working the new EasyLight™ components into all of these product lines, with the similar transition to the "small plug" architecture with continued support for legacy "large plug" components. Using all of the same components in all of our product lines gives customers the power and flexibility to connect "anything to anything," no matter how small or large their ideas and models.
This is just a small introduction to EasyLight™, the thinking behind it, and how we think it will empower our customers to create amazing and unique setups. EasyLight™ represents the biggest investment of time, effort, and money since our founding, so we hope you agree it has good potential. As always, we want to hear from you if there are areas we're missing, or if anything in the new system is more confusing than helpful. And of course we look forward to seeing photos and videos of all the amazing things you'll create using these new parts!
On behalf of our small group of enthusiasts working in our small company in a small town in Minnesota, USA, thank you for everything you do to support us every day.
Rob Klingberg, Chief Enthusiast
May 3, 2023
DISCLAIMER: LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of Companies which does not sponsor, authorize, or endorse any Brickstuff product.