The ULTIMATE buyers guide to lighting truss!

by Shannon M on March 27, 2022

In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of lighting truss and how to choose the right truss for your needs! We’ll navigate the 9 truss fundamentals and how-to build basic truss structures. Plus, you’ll see behind the scenes as truss is safety tested by a team of structural engineers. But first…

What is lighting truss?

Lighting truss, also known as stage truss or truss, is an incredibly strong framework for creating displays. Truss is modular and dynamic. What this means is, structures are built with truss pieces (like giant lego) that can change according to what you need. Primarily used to hang audio visual equipment, you can find aluminium trussing anywhere live performances are being held.

Event Production Lighting Truss

MODULAR

Truss structures are assembled with interlocking pieces of truss. Each piece comes with a set of spigots, pins & clips for quick installation.

PORTABLE

With truss you're able to create stunning displays that can adapt and move with you. Regardless of whether you own or lease a premises.

SCALABLE

You can start small with a handful of truss to create simple structures (eg: totems or arches). Later, add more truss pieces to create bigger displays.

STRONG

Trussing built with a strong grade of aluminium alloy (6082-T6) are capable of supporting tonnes of weight. 

Titan AV 400 Truss structure from High Impact Lighting

9 STEPS to choosing the right truss!

With plenty of options, ordering lighting truss can seem daunting at first. Yet it doesn’t take long to learn the basics. Let’s dive in to find the right truss for your current needs and future possibilities!

1 What do you need truss for?

It’s critical to consider the application/s intended for your truss. Ask yourself “What do I need it to do? What kind of equipment will it need to hold? Lights, speakers, signs, decorations, cables, TVs or video walls? Do I need the truss installed or free standing? Do I want the truss to go outside? Do I need to transport the truss in a car, van or truck?”

Your answers will determine the type of truss required to safely create your display. For example, large outdoor structures need heavy-duty truss with extra supports. This is to account for unexpected weather elements such as high winds, storms and unstable ground conditions.

 

Truss is not only for events

Lighting truss has always been popular for live events, however these days you'll find truss anywhere signs, lighting, sound or video fixtures are required. Truss is gaining popularity in commercial settings as a unique way to showcase products and services.

Examples of how to use box lighting truss in a retail store and car workshop in Brisbane, Australia.

Retail stores and car dealerships use truss in their showrooms to highlight a product line with lights and signage. Gyms use truss to hang TV's from the ceiling and create ninja warrior courses. Galleries and museums use truss to mount lighting and hang exhibits anywhere in a room. Once you start looking for truss you’ll see it everywhere, truss’d us!

Come behind the scenes with us to see how Australian businesses are using truss.

 

 

If you'd like to see more examples of Titan AV+ truss in action, checkout our 'from the community' post showcasing our customers handy work.

2 Which size of truss?

Different sizes of lighting truss exist to serve different purposes. Lightweight (100) trussing is for decorative displays. Midweight (200) truss for retail, exhibition and small touring displays. With heavy-duty (290 & 400) truss made to rig large amounts of weighty AV equipment. The higher the number, the bigger the truss, the more heavy-duty its application.

100 Truss
100 TRUSS
purely decorative

Super lightweight decorative solution not for rigging or holding heavy loads. Popular with florists, weddings, and displays for functions.

200 Truss
200 TRUSS
most portable

Portable & sturdy, 200 truss is a great entry-level display truss. Hang small lights, signs & banners in retail fitouts, exhibitions and small events.

290 Truss
290 TRUSS
best all-rounder

Future proof your trussing needs with 290 truss (also known as F34 truss). This great all-round truss can create very strong structures indoors or outdoors.

400 Truss
400 TRUSS
heavy-duty use

Strong, 400 truss is popular with event production companies. Theatres and large music festivals use 400 truss to hang professional AV equipment.

Truss by numbers

The truss numbers refer to measurements. For example, 290 truss is 290mm x 290mm from the outside of each large tube that defines its shape, known as chords. 

Truss sizes and shapes

3 Which shape of truss?

Truss comes in 5 different styles or shapes: tube, flat, tri, box and 5 chord truss. Different shapes of truss offer varied functionality based on strength, design and budget.

You can easily identify which truss shapes are capable of heavier loads by counting the number of chords (largest tubes) on a truss. The fewer the chords, the less weight the truss can hold. 

Titan AV+ Tube Truss
TUBE TRUSS
great for bracing

One of the more popular truss used in Australia. Tube truss often braces bigger truss structures and supports lightweight jobs alike.

Titan AV+ Flat Truss
FLAT TRUSS
most portable

Flat truss (aka ladder or i-beam truss) is often used in combination with other shapes of truss. This versatile truss will hang banners, decorations, curtains or lights. You may have seen a flat truss archway at a finish line or displaying a food truck menu.

Titan AV+ Tri Truss
TRI TRUSS
multipurpose truss

Tri truss has 3 chords that make a triangular shape. It’s an affordable alternative to box truss. Popular for lighting and decorative use in commercial fitouts, gyms and exhibition stands.

 

Titan AV+ Box Truss
BOX TRUSS
most popular

Box or square truss is the most versatile & popular style of truss. It has 4 main chords & plenty of space along the truss to attach clamps and equipment. Box truss offers a stronger, more versatile design than tri or flat truss.

Titan AV+ 5 Chord Truss
5 CHORD TRUSS
hang LED screens

5 Chord truss runs along the top of your truss structure to display LED walls. A balanced central chord distinguishes 5 chord truss. It provides the extra strength necessary to hang heavier LED screens, display panels, lighting & signs.

 

4 What lengths of truss do you require?

To answer this you need to have already calculated how big or small your truss structure will be. With truss lengths you can build structures of all shapes and sizes. The more lengths of truss, the bigger your display can be.

Titan AV+ 290 Box Truss 1 Metre

Truss lengths, or sticks of truss, start from half a metre up to 3 metres in length. Each length of truss comes with a set of spigots, pins & clips to connect one end of the truss with another piece.

5 Create with Cubes, Corners & Circles.

Because truss is modular, structures can be designed into various shapes using truss cubes and corners. As the name suggests, 6-Way truss cubes enable you to connect lengths of truss in up to 6 directions. Each cube comes with spigots, pins & clips for two sides of the cube. Extra spigots (also known as conical couplers or eggs) can be purchased.  

Truss Cube
Tri Truss Corner Piece
Flat Truss Corner Piece
290 Half Circle Truss

Corner truss is exactly what it sounds like, a piece of truss that connects lengths of truss to create a corner or junction. There are varying degrees (45°, 60°, 90°, 125°, 135°, 180°) of truss corners & circle truss. These form the foundations for designing creative truss structures. 

6 Stay grounded with base plates.

Base plates are a key element for supporting your truss structure at outdoor events or indoor displays. The base plates mount to the bottom of standing truss and provide a sturdy footing for the structure while top plates offer an additional mount for speakers & lights. Available in different sizes and shapes, larger base plates have laser cut handles for easy transportation. For additional stability, sit sandbags atop your base plate.

Titan AV+ Base Plates made in Australia from aluminium

Tip: Look for base plates featuring many mounting options. These will enable you to hide or tuck away the base plate for a cleaner look. This feature can make a huge difference in fitting your truss structure into place. 

 

7 Accessorise your truss structure.

To make the most out of your structure you’ll want to invest in a few truss accessories. Secure audio visual equipment and decorations to your truss with clamps, shelves, brackets, adapters & mounts. Here are a few of our favourite truss accessories:

Attach with
CLAMPS.

Titan AV+ Lighting Truss Clamp

Truss clamps come with weight ratings to support a variety of equipment. Attach lights, TVs, fog machines, fans & banners with clamps.

Connect with
SPIGOTS.

Titan AV+ 50mm Truss Lighting Spigot with Pins & Clips

Spigots, pins & clips connect truss lengths together. Specialised half spigots connect cubes & base plates with lengths of truss.

Secure with
MOUNTS.

Titan AV+ 50mm Lighting Flat Truss Adapter Mount

There’s a mount to hang almost anything. Moving head lights, TVs, speakers, projectors and even laptops atop a truss shelf.

Cover with
SCRIMS.

truss scrim

Hide cabling or older scuffed truss with scrims. Better yet, make truss glow with a white fabric scrim, box truss and an upturned light inside.

50mm or 32mm?
Size matters with truss accessories!

It’s important to note that truss accessories are fit for 50mm (290 & 400) or 32mm (200) truss. These measurements refer to the diameter of the main chords (largest tubes on the truss). They will ensure that you match the right sized clamp, spigot or mount for your size of truss. For example, 290 truss has 50mm chords requiring 50mm accessories.

8 Add colour to your truss!

Lighting truss comes with a standard mill finish. A mill finish is the surface texture of a material (aluminium) as it exits the factory where it’s processed. While this natural appearance suits most projects, truss isn’t always about functionality. Sometimes it's nice to have things that look cool!

5 Chord Truss powder coat colour examples

Adding a custom colour powder coat to truss is an effective way to stand out, stay hidden or be creative. The powder coating applies as a free-flowing dry powder, then cured under heat. It provides a stronger finish and is more resistant than paint. You can choose a variety of matte and gloss powder coat colours to personalise your display.

Because powder coating covers the truss, it's thus possible to scratch off. Powder coated truss is ideal for applications that need little to no transportation. Theatres and convention centre's often powder coat truss to blend installations into the ceiling or backdrop out of sight.

9 Invest in quality truss.

Not all brands of truss offer the same level of quality. Cheap truss made with lower grade aluminium (like the 6061-T6) are weak in structure and unable to safely hold heavier loads - buyer beware! Do your research first to ensure you’re investing in quality truss that will last for years to come.

The 3 ingredients that make quality trussing:

One

STRONG ALUMINIUM

Quality truss requires a strong grade of aluminium alloy, such as 6082-T6, to hold heavy loads safely above people.

Two

PRACTICAL DESIGN

How the truss is designed can affect your options for hanging equipment. Ask yourself, “Where can I attach TVs, speakers, signs etc…?”

Three

PROFESSIONAL WELDERS

The integrity of welding plays a critical role in establishing safe quality truss. Checkout this article on how to spot a good weld vs bad weld.

Safety + Certification

All lighting truss should come with a test report & compliance certification. This is to certify the truss meets Australian engineering safety standards. These reports list how much weight (i.e.: load ratings) the truss can hold. No matter your project, it is very important to know the load ratings of your truss! And to always deal with professionals for your structural needs. 

Lighting truss load ratings data sheet

If you're looking to mix and match brands of truss, a word of caution. There are slight variations between truss brands that may affect how they work in tandem. Generally, we recommend using one brand of truss for a truss structure. This ensures the integrity of the associated truss load ratings, safety certification and warranty.

Now you know what goes into selecting the right truss for your needs! Let's take a look at how to rig truss.

How-to build lighting truss

Anyone can assemble small truss structures, all you need is a hammer and a little muscle. To make things simple, trussing is genderless meaning it will connect at either end with precise alignment. Watch these quick demonstrations to see just how easy it is to put truss together...

 

 

Note: Large-scale truss structures may need specialised load shifting equipment, such as chain motors, chest harnesses and arresting shock absorber lines, to safely erect the truss. You should always consult a structural engineer for advice related to your application.

Truss deflection

Deflection is an important factor when learning how to calculate lighting truss load. Truss deflection is a measurement of vertical movement (or bend) when heavy loads are applied to the main tubes. The red in the graphic below shows how spans of truss can bend under the weight of AV equipment. 

graphic demonstrating truss deflection with a bending span of truss holding concert lighting

Small amounts of deflection are absolutely fine but you don't want your horizontal truss beams to look like smiley faces. The amount of deflection depends on the span and strength of the truss, and the magnitude of the loads applied. To calculate how much weight your structure can safely hold refer to the supplied truss load ratings. 

Titan AV+ truss


When it comes to holding heavy equipment overhead, trusting your truss is an absolute must. Designed in Australia, Titan AV+ truss is built by master welders using quality aluminium (6082-T6) for the strongest trussing. But you don't just have to take our word for it…

At Titan AV+ we put our truss through some of the most rigorous tests imaginable, so every time you rig equipment using our truss you can rest assured it won’t let you down. We sent our Titan AV+ truss to the Centre for Future Materials at the University of Southern Queensland for quality control testing. It was the biggest test of it’s kind ever conducted in Australia! 

A specialised iMetrum measuring camera pointed at 290 box truss at USQ structural testing facility

If you’d like to learn more, stay tuned. In 2022 we're releasing the behind the scenes footage as USQ’s Structural Engineers put Titan AV+ truss to the ultimate test.

Let's find the right truss for you!

You've seen all of the ingredients that go into building a truss structure. Now it's time to checkout our full range of Titan AV+ truss to find the perfect truss for your needs...

 

Was this guide helpful? Leave us a message below with any questions, comments or additions you'd like to see in this guide.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published


BACK TO TOP