A question we regularly get asked is ‘Do I need to replace all the lights at once or can I do it over time?’ The answer is definitely that if can be done in phased approach over time, but needs a touch more planning to make it successful. Get it right and you’ll be everyone’s hero, get it wrong and no-one will remember to thank you for the money you’re saving them in the long run.
Legacy high powered LED lights have been designed to replace traditional metal halide fittings on a one-for-one basis. This means that the weight and size have been optimised so that existing poles can be used, but also means that the beam pattern is very similar to what a standard narrow beam flood light would produce. One of the key advantages therefore is that lights can be replaced as they fail, or as budgets permit, without causing big issues in the meanwhile.
A city based recreational football ground had reasonable club attendance but only a small amount available annually for maintenance and repairs. With replacements globes costing around $250-$300 each, the biggest expense was in the hiring of high lift equipment and the technicians time to do it. The field had 4 poles with eight lamps on each.
The planning phase was the most important to ensure that all interested parties were getting what they needed:
Whatever decision was made it had to work all the time for the players. Having a hotch-potch make-shift system was not going to cut it for players who were paying membership fees. Being a city location ensured there were other clubs within easy reach if the facilities didn’t come up to scratch.
The current metal halides, whilst old, were professionally designed and installed and the neighbours enjoyed glare-free lighting, being mounted horizontally.
Whatever the solution the club had to pay for the installation and be able to live with the results. Proving a reasonable return on investment (ROI) was important to get everyone on board with the increased capital requirement that new LED’s would require. The fact that all expenses could be recouped within 10 years was enough to convince the money guys that it was a worthwhile investment.
The Facilities Team & Volunteers
With much of the work being done at the club by volunteers, using maintenance free lighting would free up the volunteers to do other tasks, or give them the day off!
With some targeted fund raising activity is was found that they could afford to replace the lamps on one pole each year, thereby taking 4 years to complete the project.
The facilities team used lighting simulations from 3 manufacturers to decide which lamp would be the best in the ‘phased approach’ by seeing which would give the best, most-even light distribution when used in conjunction with the old metal halides. It was decided to replace one pole at a time and if lamps on other poles failed in the meanwhile, the working units from the swapped out modules were used until that poles turn came around. In this way the expense was budgeted and easy to predict. Using a Return on Investment calculator it was estimated the pay-back period to be 10 years which gave the club confidence that they were making the right long-term decision. This was over against the instinctive thought to rather just constantly carry on paying out a smaller amount annually for maintenance.
A 5 year, 50 000 hour warranty went a long way to convincing the board that the lamps would be for benefit of the club well into the future. Delaying the decision to move to digital lighting only postpones the end date of having an efficient and effective lighting system, like which is not possible apart from LED.
So if you’re looking to do a phased approach ensure some key points:
1) Will the light pattern of the new lamp blend with the old in terms of light distribution and colour temperature
2) Can I replace my existing units one-for-one in terms of size and weight so that the current poles can be used?
3) Have points 1 and 2 been backed up by an accurate simulated lighting plan and been compared to existing light levels?
Once you’ve gone through this whole exercise you will be far more likely of a successful change-over and more able to maximise the benefits into the future.