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There are a number of basic reasons for LED lights to fail but the primary issue is heat.  

Over-heating can be a result of a number of design and assembly issues but is still the cause of the majority of LED lamp failures – both in the fitting themselves and also the drivers.

LED Fittings

Everyone knows that LED’s need a heatsink which is generally incorporated into the basic design of the product.  

Going back 10-15 years this resulted in heavy, large and cumbersome products which seemed to be designed for military use compared with their light and flimsy metal halide cousins.  

As the technologies have improved the housings have reduced, become more streamlined and architectural.  However the fundamental issue has not disappeared – LED’s create a lot of heat and need to get rid of it.  

LED’s

Not all LED’s are created equal.  

In the past decade a handful of manufacturers have set themselves apart from the rest by consistently delivering high performance, tried and tested LED’s that have proved to last, based on LM80 and similar tests.  

Starting with a reliable LED is the cornerstone of long lasting lamps and cannot be over-emphasized.  

Many copycat chip designs have sprung up but this is not a step worth taking a short cut on.  If the LED is unreliable, almost nothing else matters – stick with one of the brand leaders.

PCB’s and Contact with the Housing

Unlike a halogen, which throws its heat forward, LED’s push their heat out the back, through the PC Board and then into the heat sink.  

This conductive path is very necessary to making the system work together and provides the first potential hotspot. 

The thickness and material of the PCB is part of (or should be part of!) an engineered design that considers heat dissipation from the get-go.  The LED’s are generating heat, the PCB is transporting the heat into the body (or heatsink) to be taken away.  If the PCB is not thick enough and doesn’t have enough heatsinking in its own right, hot spots can occur.  

The next stage is the contact between the PCB and the housing. Cheaper lamps economise on thermal paste, either not using the right grade, not enough, or worse still, not using any at all.  A microscopic gap between the PCB and potentially (slightly) uneven aluminium housing, can result in early failures.  Using a good grade of thermal grease or, better still, a graphite pad, makes a world of difference to the longevity of the LED module.  This is an unseen area of the lamp as far as the consumer is concerned.  

Consequently, many manufacturers economise here as the short-cuts are not clearly visible.  

Unfortunately, they are visible when the lamp stops working for no apparent reason.

Housing Design

The next aspect in the thermal design is the housing.  

Not only must there be enough aluminium to dissipate the heat, but it must be of a high quality and cast in a way that supports heat dissipation.  

There are a number of methods of molding the aluminium and each has cost vs efficiency differences.  Extrusion is common and is economical to produce, both for tooling and components, and due to the high molding pressure, is very efficient. However, because it is a linear extrusion the shape is 2 dimensional, greatly restricting the design options.  

Diecasting is a popular option to overcome this issue, but consequently is not as efficient for heatsinking because it is cast at a lower pressure.  

Cold forging is another option for efficiency, but often not used due to limitations on design and higher tooling costs.

Drivers

Many basic LED light fixture designs incorporate the LED driver into the design for convenience.  

However, the drivers themselves generate heat and are also adversely affected by heat.  Bolting them to a hot heatsink is about the worst treatment they can get and subsequently this causes premature failures.  The reason for this is that one of the components used on the PCB of the driver has a gel solution to make it function.  If this gel dries out, the driver fails.  

The answer to this issue is to keep the drivers cool, which requires either insulation or sufficient airflow during operation.

Solution

With temperature being the biggest issue, the obvious solution is to control the temperature.  

Many manufacturers choose to make their module underperform to prevent a heat build-up.  This can work but also make the modules bigger and heavier than they need to be. 

Our recommendation, if you are operating your lights for long periods of time or in a harsh environment, is to make sure the lights you are buying have some form of electronic temperature control.  

These devices vary in type, but the result should be that they effectively control the temperature of the module to less than 90 C. 

One of the most effective is a physical NTC (thermistor) which sensors the actual temperature and dims the lamp in order to maintain the temperature.  

This is a robust mechanism that is able to operate under any conditions.  

Other more electronic forms are also available which may be equally effective.  The main point is to make sure that there is some form of proven safe-guard against over-temperature – an LED’s worst enemy.

For more information on getting the best performing LED lights, send us an email or give us a call on +61 3 8566 6146 and chat to one of our friendly consultants.

There are many factors to consider when choosing the an upgrade for your sporting facility: Be it surfaces or stadium seating, there are a myriad number of options available & sports lighting is no exception.

So how does Legacy’s range of LED Sport Lighting measure up when compared to traditional metal halide lights?

1-For-1 Replacement of Metal Halide

The Legacy system has been purposely designed to offer direct one-for-one replacement for 2kW Metal Halide modules.  This not only is for the light output but weight and sail area too, ensuring existing poles can be used, avoiding expensive upgrades to poles and power.

Superior Definition

Whether you’re a small local outfit or a professional club, there are options from 70 to 90 CRI ensure you have the appropriate visibility and definition.

Whilst Metal Halide lamps have a good CRI when new, they start deteriorating within the first 100 hours of use and within 250 hours are only operating at 75% efficiency.

Unlike these traditional lighting systems, LED’s have maintain their performance over an extended period, typically 50000 hours.  This guarantees that the light is operating at a high level throughout the life of the fittings.

App-Based Control & Feedback

By utilising the Legacy app you can gain remote control of lighting levels or reports on power usage, helping you to optimise the use of the lights.

Other options include charging for usage outside of normal club hours and timers for remote settings.

40% Less Power Consumption

By replacing 2kW metal Halide fittings with 1.2kW LED modules, power consumption is reduced by 40% immediately.

Additionally, due to the rapid deterioration of MH lamps, savings of nearer 50% should be realised.

Alternately, if you’re looking to upgrade the amount of light on the field this can be done without upgrading your power usage.

90% Less Maintenance

One of the key long-term advantages of LED is that there is no required maintenance for 50000 hours, apart from occasional cleaning.  No bulbs to replace annually, no scissor lifts to hire, just high performance lighting all year round

Instant On

With LED lighting there is no warm up period but are instantly operating at full power.  If you have a power interruption, the lights will be back on the moment the electricity is flowing so there are no inconvenient waiting times.

If you’d like to find out more on how LED lighting can enhance your sporting facility, send us an email or give us a call on +61 3 8566 6146 and chat to one of our friendly consultants.

Ben, an earnest young project manager brings his new idea to the board meeting – replace our ridiculously outdated metal halides for new, singing-and-dancing LED’s.  ‘Everyone is doing it, the whole world is changing to digital LED – it must be the right thing to do!’ Thoroughly researched, he is confident of 100% buy-in from all.  The features are great, the benefits are blatantly obvious. Then, the boss asks the dreaded question ‘That’s all very well but what’s the return on investment (ROI)?’  Ben fumbles around restating the features and benefits for the fourth time.  Opinions are divided and another amazing project get scuttled before leaving the harbour.

The “ROI” question is perfectly fair to ask and not always easy to answer.  So what we’ve attempted to do is give a clear matrix of influencing factors in relation to replacing metal halides with LED lamps.  We have focused on replacing metal halide fittings on a one-for-one basis, although the calculation is still valid for new build, assuming you select an LED fitting that will allow you to use the same pole construction as you would with a metal halide fitting i.e. luminaires are the same size and weight.

The main and obvious influences on ROI are power consumption and maintenance costs.  However, a number of external factors also will impact a decision like this which are more emotional things which everyone will put a different value on.  These are all benefits we take for granted in our homes and businesses but at this early-ish stage of LED development can be easy to overlook in a sporting application when club funds are stretched.  These include carbon footprint responsibility, spill light control to have happier neighbours, the convenience of digital app based control and ‘instant on’.  Basically the convenience and usability we expect in the 21st century which is often hard to put a price on directly.

Carbon footprint responsibility

There may well be differing views on global warming and how this is impacting our planet and what sort of crises we are generating for future generations.  Whichever end of the scale we are at in this argument, saving electricity has to be a good thing.  In most countries electricity production is stretched and costs are only going to go one way.  Additionally many municipalities offer incentives to use more efficient devices, further enhancing the benefits.

Happier Neighbours

Spill light not only costs money in wasted energy but also makes for aggravated neighbours.  Having a pay-to-play system is good news for the club who can maximise their investment, but perhaps not such good news for those nearby who don’t like sleeping in simulated daylight.  Many LED systems offer excellent light control due to each LED having an optic.  This allows for very specific focus of the light to go just where it should, dramatically reducing the stray light.

App based control

Imagine your facilities manager being able to turn the lights off from his bed at 2am when the last rowdy players have forgotten to do so. Better still, set the app so that the lights turn off after a specified time, or when the key-holder leaves, or when the players’ credit has run out etc. etc.  In other words, digital lighting gives us exceptional control of how we manage our lighting to minimise running costs and maximise the clubs ROI.  By making pay-to-play so simple and controllable, clubs can rethink how they make the facility available 24/7, boosting attendances and fees without impacting on their pay-roll.  Additionally, being able to control the intensity of the lights allows you to have different levels of lighting for different sports or levels of play.  This again gives more control of your costs as you can dim the lights to pre-set levels if full power is not required.

Instant On

Have you ever been frustrated with how long your lights take to warm up?  Or worse still had a match in progress and the electricity has tripped, causing a 20 minute delay while the lights warm up to full power again?  A benefit of LED that is hard to put a value on is the way they power up in seconds.  Even with a soft start they are operating at full power in under 5 seconds.

Digital Convenience

Like with many things in our modern world there is a convenience about digital which is hard to put a price on.  Ever considered what life would be like without a smartphone? We now can’t even imagine how terrible this would be but smartphones have only been in existence since 2007. Once we have made the commitment to going digital the benefits compound and it becomes very difficult to image how we managed ‘in the old days’.

Conclusion

So, bearing in mind the somewhat ‘intangible’ benefits mentioned above, put your numbers into the ROI Calculator below and you’ll quickly be able to see how long the investment will take to pay off.

Tennis court lighting, like most things in life, vary dramatically depending on the type of usage and personal preferences.  In principle, the ball is small and moves fast.  This usually requires a higher level of lighting than, say, a football.  The important thing to bear in mind is that it is always cheaper to do the job right the first time than to have to redo it in 2 years’ time.  Other factors will include how close are your neighbours and how much do you want to spend.

Lighting levels

This would be the first consideration as everything else will be based on the lux levels required.  For basic play and just to have enough light to see the ball a minimum of 100 lux is required.  This would be suitable for a late night fun game, however, if you are more serious and using the court for training you should really be working to 250 lux.  This will give you sufficient light for higher speeds of play and would be where many good clubs operate their lighting levels.  At the next tier up, competition courts operate at 500 lux.  These lux levels allow for high speed play and would be suitable for any class of player.  Any light levels are achievable, it just depends on where you see your style of play in relation to the budget you set.  To go from 100 lux to 500 lux would require approximately 2.5 times the poles and light modules.

Along with the overall lighting level, uniformity, or evenness of the spread of light is equally important.  It is not sufficient for a designer to quote an average lux level as this could vary from 500 lux directly under the fittings, to 100 lux in centre court.  The average may be 250 but the useableness of the light will be hampered by being patchy and uneven.  You therefore need to ensure that the uniformity factor is round 0.4.

Light Control

In order to make sure your friendly neighbours stay friendly, check the lighting plan provided by the supplier to ensure there is no spill light at ground level.  Also ensure the lights mount horizontally.  This will tend to be the more specialised lights as many of the cheaper modules will mount at an angle.  Whilst these angled units are less expensive, they can cost a lot in relationships as the glare from these lights can be literally seen for miles.

Pole Height

For domestic courts this is usually best to be kept as low as possible to minimise glare and over-spill light.  Depending on the light fitting used and the lighting levels required a height of 6m to 8m is usually feasible.  For public areas poles up to 20m are used, particularly when lighting a number of courts from a restricted number of poles.  This height make uniformity easier as the light spreads naturally when given more distance.

To compensate for the lower poles it is often necessary to use more poles.  For instance if using 10-15m poles, 4 would be sufficient to get 250 lux and good coverage.  If 6-8m is ideal then 6 poles may be required to get the same results or 8-10 poles to achieve competition lux levels.

The main problem with metal halides was that when bulbs needed to be changed, the higher the poles the bigger the hassle. With LED’s having now come into their own in terms of reliability and longevity, keeping pole height down to make servicing easier is no longer an issue.

Remember that often these poles, although galvanised to resist rusting, can be powder coated or painted to suit your environment.  Black or white are common but other options are often available on request.

Pole installation

Lighting poles are now available virtually off-the-shelf from a number of reputable suppliers.  They conform to relevant regulations and the manufacturers can provide drawings and specifications to help aid a council planning submission.  The poles are mostly supplied with a complete installation kit including a frame structure which gets concreted into the ground.  This, along with the installation instructions, makes it simple and safe for any good contractor to install the poles.

Electrical requirements

The typical current draw for a tennis court will be from 2.4kW (less than a kettle to boil water) for achieving 100+ lux up to 6kW which would provide competition level lighting with 10 poles.  The modules typically are supplied with an LED driver which can be mounted at the base of the pole or may be integrated into the design of the lamp.  Whilst the wiring up and installation is simple, ensure that a qualified electrician does the installation and that the modules are compliant with local regulations.

Conclusion

This planning work will put you in good stead to have a lot of fun for many years to come.  A cautionary note would be to use this guide to cross check what you are told by contractors.  Sometimes things that are simpler, easier and cheaper for them may not be best for you in the long term.

Good luck and enjoy the game!

High powered LED sports lights come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, beam patterns and CRI’s.  With the benefits of being digital there is amazing things that can be done with them to create effects, dim, flash etc. and are all features that can enhance the user experience and make your sports field much more multi-functional.  This increases the options for revenue streams and makes better use of the facility.

So, how much do these digital luminaires cost?

Well, as you’ve probably guessed, that depends on how far you want to go.  As the sky is literally the limit for what you can spend with all special effects, we have tried to just deal with conventional lighting for sport applications. Each sport has very different and specific requirements with relation to CRI, lux levels and pole heights and so we have not attempted to make this an exhaustive guide.

Many companies will do lighting layouts and IES files free of charge, or for small charge, so you to prove more accurately what the costs will be, but this should put you in the right ball-park so there’s no dramatic surprises.

There will be two main scenario’s:  Brand new build and replacement of metal halide fittings.

Brand New Build

This is the most difficult to guesstimate as you have nothing to work on to begin with.  However, let’s make a start.  Broadly speaking there are generally three levels of play – Class 1, 2 and 3.  This guide does not attempt to estimate a facility that will be have televised matches as the lighting required for this is significantly higher and is much more complex.  Also for a new installation bear in the mind the cost of the light fittings themselves is likely to be only about 20% of the cost of the poles, provision of power, control gear and installation.

Due to there being many different regulations in different countries we have broadly grouped them into 3 groups which reflect the lighting level required.

Group 1 – Involves large capacity crowds who are situated quite far from the action

Assumptions:

  • Lighting level of 500 lux
  • Pole height of 20-25m
  • Pricing range allows for CRI of 70-90
  • Estimated luminaire cost US$15-US$20/m2

Group 2 – This could be regional club matches with medium sized crowds and also include high-level training

Assumptions:

  • Lighting level of 200 lux
  • Pole height of 20-25m
  • Pricing range allows for CRI of 70-90
  • Estimated luminaire cost US7-US10/m2

Group 3 – Local matches or recreation grounds with very few spectators and also training

  • Lighting level of 75-100 lux
  • Pole height of 20-25m
  • Pricing range assumes CRI of 70
  • Estimated luminaire cost US4-6/m2

Replacement of metal halide fittings:

This scenario is simpler to estimate assuming you are happy with the lighting levels you currently have.  If you are unsure what they are or want to check they are near what you assumed, there are a few apps such as Lux Meter (Light Meter) for android or Lux Light Meter Pro for iOS which give a good indication.

 

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Assuming that you find the existing levels are what you need, then the calculation is simply a one-for-one replacement in most situations.  As an approximation the replacement of a 1kW metal halide fitting would be US$1500 and the replacement of a 2kW metal halide fitting would be US$2500, for a 70 CRI and about 10-15% more for a 90 CRI module.

If you are not happy with your existing lighting levels use the guide above for ‘New Build’ which gives a lux level and is based on square meter averages.

As you will appreciate there are a huge amount of variables in a calculation of this nature and we would always recommend getting a lighting plan done by a professional company.  However, this will hopefully put you in ball-park and give you something to work on.

Need a more accurate quote?  Try using our Sports Lighting Cost Calculator or contact Legacy Lighting for a personalised quote.