For (almost!) every sport played in the country, there is an Australian Standard AS2560.2 which governs recommended lux levels (how much light) and uniformity (evenness of light). The main deciding factors are how fast is the ball moving and how big is the ball. For this reason the recommended lux levels for hockey are much higher than those for bowls.
For AFL, the current levels are 100 lux for local games/training and 200 lux for competitions. Good practise would be to lean towards 200 lux even if you can’t afford to get the whole way there as 100 lux (remember this is average, not minimum) may mean that the centre is down to 60 or 70 lux.
For every sport there is preferred or ideal pole locations, but these positions may only be theoretical if existing poles are going to be used.
For AFL the standard format for is 4 x 30m poles, 2 on either side of the oval length. This ensures the light can reach the centre of the green and give good uniformity, without having to tilt up the lights much, which can cause glare to the players and neighbours.
The process for installing lights has 4 main parts to it:
- Trenching for cables and installing footing cages
- Fitting the lights to the poles
- Raising the poles and completing electrical installation
- Testing and sign-off
The costs will vary considerably depending on the location and lux levels required but in 2022 a 200 lux field would be in the ball-park of:
- Lighting $90,000
- Poles $72,000
- Installation $120,000
This price allows for the cabling, conduits, boom etc that would all be needed for the installation. As mentioned, prices vary widely depending on availability and location so a range of 20% either side may be experienced.
One point to make is that the lights constitute a relatively small part of the cost. Often this is seen as an area to save money, but economising here may waste all the other money completely. All poles have to be safe and to a fixed standard for weight load etc otherwise they wouldn’t be able to be sold. If the electrician doesn’t do a good job, it will quickly be evident and the lights won’t work. However, if the lights are at fault, this can cause endless headaches that really don’t have a solution. Failure of lights tends not to be the major issue but rather just poor levels of light on the green. This may be patchy with dark spots and light spots, or simply just not enough light. To get the contractor to resolve this later is almost impossible and will invariably cost the club in the long-run to replace them.
So, think carefully about where economies will come from if you don’t have enough money. One strategy that a number of clubs use is to get poles capable of carrying full capacity that you need and do the trenching and cabling for the ideal lighting job, but then only get lights to cover the essentials i.e. 100 lux. Once the club has saved some more money, the system can then be easily and inexpensively upgraded to bring it up to the optimum level.
Think laterally and avoid making short term fixes that have long term effects.