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Replacing halogen and metal halide bulbs and fittings with LED has been the obvious thing to do for the past 15 years.  Well, let’s say 8 years (the promises have been there for 15 but they really haven’t stacked up).  

Most of what was said was true – the lamps used less power, required less maintenance and lasted ‘a lot longer’.  Unfortunately, the original claims of 50,000 hours seldom, if ever, proved to be true and many people got burned with sub-standard product that cost 5 times as much as traditional bulbs yet barely out lasted them.  

Thankfully, however, the technology improved, and we started to get nearer to the life spans we had been promised.  All these problems did cause people to be more sceptical of wild promises and slowed the progress in some sectors.  Governments then started offering incentives and kick-started a wave of replacements which really got the momentum going in the market.

One of the industries that has been lagging behind (for very good reasons) in all this progress is sport.  Sport fields and stadiums, tennis courts, horse racing tracks and many others have struggled to see the value when weighing up against the potential down-sides of early-life failures.  With a number of companies working on this problem for the past few years, we can finally say that LED has arrived for sports applications, as a credible and genuine alternative to metal halide.  

The key benefits are as follows:

Digital Control and Pay to Play

By incorporating digital lighting into your club you can increase the simplicity of another revenue stream – pay to play.  

Apps are available to work in with a number of lighting systems which allows users to book and pay for a court or pitch on-line and turns the lights on at a specific light level for a specific time.  

This gives total control to the club and needs no on-site management as it can be done completely remotely. Having this remote control gives you the option to open up availability to non-members for added revenue and attract potential new members.

Dimmable

With LED being ‘digital’ there is much more control over the amount of light you use. Different lighting levels can be set based on the requirements of the night i.e. training vs competition.  

The lighting requirements for a given sport e.g. football, are 100 lux for training and 250 lux for a match.  This means that for any time that match-lighting is not required, a huge saving is able to be made to the electricity usage.  

Whilst this was possible with metal halide systems, it meant turning off certain lights and keeping others on, resulting in uneven deterioration of the lighting. Digital dimming can even be done from a phone for maximum flexibility.

Reduces Electrical Usage

With certain (not all) modern LED sport fittings, energy consumption can be reduced by 40-50%.  This is a combination of high efficiency LED’s and drivers, but more importantly high efficiency optics.  

The optics control where the light goes and therefore is very important to overall ‘system efficiency’.  Many lights claim high lumen/watt ratios.  This is meaningless unless you have proved this with guaranteed lux levels on the ground. 

This factor, in conjunction with the dimmable feature, significantly reduces the overall power usage.

Reduces Maintenance

One of the huge advantages of LED modules is low maintenance. 

Typically, a metal halide lamp will deteriorate to 75% within 500 hours.  For a well-frequented club, this may be only a few months usage, resulting in either under-performing lights or high maintenance bills.  

The lamps themselves are not overly expensive, but often the required equipment (scissor lifts or booms) are very costly – especially in rural areas where they may have to be obtained from many kilometres away.  

By contrast, LED’s should operate at a high efficiency for 50 000 hours, only requiring occasional cleaning of the optics.  When assessing the costs, this needs to be factored in.

Instant On

Having the lights up to full power instantly removes the need for lengthy start up periods. LED lighting is on instantly and if there is a power failure, will re-start immediately once the power is back on. 

The added benefit to this is that players appreciate the convenience and get used to having uninterrupted play, rather than the frustration of lights turning off during a game and waiting 20 minutes for them to re-start.  

Ultimately this equates to improved turnouts at games, more willing pay-to-play participants, and overall a better image for the club.

So in summary, whilst LED has had a rocky start to their big-field career, we do believe they have finally arrived for good.  The value can be proved, the technology is stable and you can set your club apart, attract new members andreduce your running expenses – all by having digital lighting.

A Word of Warning….

These benefits are still only true if you have the right lighting partner.  Do your research and make sure that what you are getting does stack up as there are still plenty of old-technology LED systems out there.

If you’d like to talk to one of our expert lighting specialists for advice on upgrading from halide to LED, contact us at Legacy Sports Lighting for a detailed consultation.

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.

The decade-long promise for LED has been ‘longer life and lower running expenses’. Whilst this has proved true in many industries, it certainly is not a given in sport applications.  

2kW metal halide fittings have been the industry standard for longer than anyone can remember. Loved by designers for the fantastic light distribution, hated by facilities managers who are forever having to hire a cherry-picker in order to change yellowing bulbs.  

LED certainly seemed like the answer until lighting designers complained about substandard light distribution, heavier fittings and uncertain lifespans. Unfortunately, they were right to be cynical as LED has certainly not achieved any notable success in the sport market until very recently.  

So, you are now going out to find the perfect replacement for your ageing 2kW Metal Halides. 

What do you look for and how do you know a ‘lemon’ if you see one?  

Sadly, this is not always obvious and manufacturers certainly don’t promote their weaknesses so here’s a few tips to keep you on the right side of your clubs treasurer and sports captain.

If Keeping your Old Poles, Ensure you Match Weight and Sail Area

Generally speaking, LED fittings are much heavier than Metal Halides.  

The traditional fittings are often big, but relatively light and so the poles were engineered accordingly.  Replacing 20kg lights with 30kg lights may not seem like a big deal, however, when multiplied by 6 or 8, the results can be disastrous, as some clubs can testify!  

Poles falling over due to weight overload is not uncommon and can be fatal.  

Sail area relates to wind resistance.  Many of the traditional fittings mounted flat or horizontal, giving a small sail area. 

Ideally find an LED that mounts horizontal too, as this removes another of the potential issues with overstressed poles when the wind gets up.

Check Out the Beam Pattern

For all their old age, many of the 2kW metal halide fittings (particularly Phillips MVP) have exceptional beam patterns and are really efficient.  

Do not assume that any LED fitting will be able to replace these old warriors easily!  

Get a lighting plan done by the supplier or wholesaler and make sure you will achieve ‘equal to/or better than’ results with the same or less kilowatts.  

Again, I cannot overstate, this is not a foregone conclusion and if you are basing your decision on energy savings, you may be disappointed. 

Get a ‘Guaranteed’ Lighting Plan

Many companies are willing to provide a lighting plan prior to purchase.  

Ensure that you get some performance guarantee to make sure the results are based on sound IES files.  

Many IES files are generated using optimum conditions and performance of the light and don’t accurately reflect the performance in the field.  

A relatively small error can result in really poor performance on the ground if all negative factors combine.  

In some cases council grants are subject to the facility conforming to national standards (i.e. European, Australian etc).  Non-compliance in this case could result in a grant not being given, or even withdrawn. 

Not only do you not have a compliant facility, but you have lost funding too.

Look Closely at Spill Lighting Control

Any aspect of metal halide lighting was good cut off and control of spill lighting.  

Many LED’s shine at 180 D and rely on the optic or reflector to control the beam.  This is good, provided the optic is good.  

A poor optic will put light where you don’t need it, but worse still, put light where you really don’t want it i.e. in the neighbour’s yard.  

The lighting plan should include spill light calculations so that you can verify that they comply with council requirements.

Make Sure the Lamp Mounts Horizontally

A number of the old metal halides had mastered horizontal mounting.  This reduces sail area as previously mentioned, as well as spill light, and is much better for neighbours and players alike.  

Lamps that mount at a 45-degree angle not only waste light, they cause real issues with lighting control.  

A well designed light should not need to be angled up by more than 15% off horizontal. If it does, you poles may not be high enough or the lamp itself may not be quite as good as claimed.

Conclusion

So, the summary conclusion is there are LED lights out there that can do what you need them to do, but make sure you’ve done the research as there is certainly more ways of getting it wrong than getting it right.  

Don’t ever assume that LED is better just because it’s LED.  Metal halides are great lights and proved very worthy competitors to their digital replacements.  

If you’d like to find out more on replacing metal halide lights with LED, 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.

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!

Getting enough light on the ground without bothering the neighbours is a great start to a good game of evening football.  When evaluating what will, or won’t, work there is a number of parameters that will affect the results.  Lumens and Lux are 2 of the most common to be looked into so let’s explain a bit more about both terms and then the answer becomes more clear.

Lumens is a measurement of the volume of light being emitted by the lamp.  This is controlled by how the manufacturer of the LED chip (Cree, Lumiled etc.) has designed it and the value will vary depending on how much current is put through it.  For instance, a 5W chip operating at 5W may produce 90 lumens/watt.  That is, for every watt of power put in, it will generate 90 lumens out.  However, if you run the same LED at 3W you will get a big increase in the efficiency and generate perhaps 120 lumens/watt.  The lamp manufacturer therefore specifies a gross lumens value in two ways – raw lumens and effective lumens.  The raw lumens is what the LED manufacturer has put as the value at a given temperature and wattage.  This does not take into account the lamp as a system and doesn’t reflect any calculation for losses from optics, temperature etc.  The effective lumens is what is calculated once the lamp has been built into a system.  This is tested over a period of hours and so allows the lamp time to heat up and is testing the actual light output rather than the theoretical light produced in a laboratory by the LED itself.  If the lighting manufacturer doesn’t specify if the values stated are raw or effective, you can safely assume they are raw.  Losses from raw to effective may be as much as 30% and is specific to the system i.e. cannot be estimated without knowing more details about the lamp as a whole.

Lux, on the other hand is a practical, field measurement of real light on the ground or at a specified height.  This test can be done physically or simulated using software and the IES (digital light pattern) file. Once the lamps have been set up on their poles (or simulated) and the field is illuminated, then you can measure the actual light on the ground.  This takes into account the same losses as the effective lumens test but also shows how the light is controlled.  This is very important for big-field sports like football, cricket, baseball and rugby.  Having a huge mass of bright light that only shines 50m isn’t very helpful on a rugby field.  Additionally, the mass of light tends to have a lot of stray light which can tend to annoy spectators and neighbours.

So, whilst you have to have the right lumen values being emitted from the lamp, the way it is controlled is of utmost importance.  Just because a light has high power and lots of lumens doesn’t mean the light will go where you want it to go.  A proper lighting plan is therefore essential.  If you are not sure what lighting levels you need there are a number of sources of this info – a handy quick reference being is the Legacy guide but there are numerous more detailed sources available.  Once you know what the standard is, check out your lighting levels with a lux meter.  Again there are some helpful app downloads to give you an idea of where your illumination is up to.  If this is sufficient, use it as the base for your design.  If it isn’t sufficient, work with the lighting guidelines and the designer to come up with a system that works.

It’s a good idea to get a couple of lighting companies so you can compare the lighting plans from different manufacturers.  Once done you should be well on the way to making a better, more informed decision, achieving efficiency and low maintenance for many years to come.

 

If you have looked into LED lighting at all you will have noticed there is dozens, if not hundreds, of options.  So, as you can imagine, there a dozens, if not hundreds, of variations to the answer of this question. They range from 100W to 1500W, big fins, small fins, fan assisted, metal pressed, die cast, white powder coat, black powder coat, COB’s, small chip LED’s, high efficiency LED’s and so on and so on.  Your head begins to spin at the options, but one thing you can be sure of is that LED is the most efficient – right?  Wrong.  Or more correctly – potentially wrong.

Let’s just confirm that point quickly as it is really important – just because it is LED does not mean that it is energy efficient.  Or, conversely, just because it is old technology metal halide does not make it inefficient.  A number of factors need to be assessed to decide if LED is going to work for you.  How often are the lights used, and for how long etc. etc.

So let’s look at some of these factors in a bit more detail…

How often are the lights used and for how long?

A while back we had a client insisting on looking at LED.  They ran a rodeo once a year for one night and he felt LED was going to give him the best return on investment because if ‘was the best’ and ‘the latest technology’.  Needless to say we were dubious.  The LED fittings he wanted cost 4 times that of metal halide and the amount of electricity used in the year would have only been 10’s of dollars because of only being used once a year.  In this case there was no way of justifying the purchase.  On the other hand, making a 40% energy saving on 100’s of hours of use per year can make it very viable.

How many lights will I need to use?

The only way to conclusively check if there is a gross energy saving is to get a lighting plan done.  If you are using the existing poles then you can figure out what lighting levels you already have and get a comparative study done using LED.  You can immediately see if you will require more or less fittings and energy by the layout results.  Don’t take this as a given that LED will reduce your energy consumption.  Most systems are less efficient than their traditional alternatives.

Optics and field size

The larger the field, the more difficult it is for LED to improve on power consumption.  This is because many of the LED optics are not optimised for big field sports and are therefore very inefficient at distributing the light, particularly at a distance.  The critical factor is the control of the light with optics or reflectors as this determines ultimately how many LED watts will be required.  Again, a lighting plan using the IES file for the specified light is the only way to know if it will work or not.  Don’t baulk at this step.  It may cost a few hundred dollars at worst, and at best could save you hundreds of thousands in wasted investment.

To conclude then, efficiency is relative to the size of the investment vs the usage of the lights.  Assuming you get a really good optic and can replace your metal halide fittings and get a 40% saving in electricity, make sure you get a sensible return on investment by looking at the whole lifetime cost, rather than just focusing on the isolated factor of energy consumption.

A key difference between traditional metal halide fittings and LED fittings is the maintenance costs.  The basic housing for the metal halide fittings can last for 10’s of years but the bulbs need to be replaced regularly as they lose 20-25% of their efficiency within the first 250 hours of operation.  By contrast LED fittings should last 50000 hours as a system without the need for maintenance other than occasional cleaning.

Whilst this is all perfectly true, the flip side is that if the metal halide fails, you only have to replace the bulb.  By contrast, if the LED fails, you have to replace the whole unit.

A number of factors influence how long the LED’s last.  Key elements are the driver, the LED’s, waterproofing, condensation control and the control of heat.

The Driver or Power supply

This is a critical component and is one of the most common causes of failure in LED’s.  The power supply in a mains AC powered system is essentially the brains of the lamp.  The PC Board in an AC system is a ‘dumb’ board loaded with LED’s.  All control, dimming etc are controlled by the power supply, except for the temperature control on the board.  There are a number of specialist manufacturers who offer very good warranties and have proved themselves in the field. Ensure your supplier is not economising on this component as it is likely to be where issues will come from and can be expensive to replace.

The LED’s

There is a large number of proven manufacturers of LED’s.  While a brand is no guarantee of high performance and longevity, there is credibility with some of these companies who have consistently produced excellent products for many years.  Amongst these are Cree, LG and Lumiled although lighting manufacturers constantly need to experiment with other products to ensure they keep in the forefront of the industry.  However, it is worth checking the credibility of the brand of LED’s to give you some idea of what your warranty is worth.

Waterproofing

As sports lights are generally installed outside a level of waterproofing is essential.  This would usually involve a seal around the lens and a waterproof cable gland. Once moisture gets into the lights it quickly damages the PC Board and will result in failures within days.

Condensation

When a lamp has been working hard and getting hot, a sudden change in temperature (like from rain) can cause the air in the lamp to condense.  This results in fogging in the lamp which will very quickly can deterioration in the electronics, and ultimately, failure.  Most lights are now designed with a breather valve.  This means that if there is a build-up of condensation in the lamp the moisture can go out, but not back in.  This method is virtually fool-proof and is essential for all lamps that are not made in a moisture free environment – which is the majority of lamps in the world.

Control of heat

One of the principle causes of LED failure is overheating.  The 2 main ways to control this is by having sufficient heat sinking and by moderating the temperature of the PC Board electronically.  As the housing is static and airflow is unpredictable, the surface area and fin size influences how well it will control the heat.  The other aspect is to control how hard the LED’s run.  The more current they draw the hotter they will be.  Control mechanisms are therefore put into place to throttle the current draw which in turn allows the LED’s time to cool down.  This method is only successful when used in conjunction with an effective heat sink and is not an alternative to a good heatsink.

So, lots to look into but once you’ve explored all the options and you’re confident of your decision, you will have a system that will last for many years to come.

On the field, lighting levels are measured with a light, or lux, meter.  The results are expressed in Lux (lumens/m2) or foot candles (lumens/ft2).  This gives an objective measurement of the amount of light at a specific point.  However, prior to achieving this, the layout is planned using a digital file called an IES file.

Each lamp has different current draw, efficiency, CRI, colour temperature and most importantly, beam pattern. The IES file contains the beam pattern of the luminaire to be used, in a format that allows the designer to plan the position of the poles, height of the poles and angles of the luminaires in order to achieve uniform lighting at a particular lux level.  The engineer can very accurately achieve an end result once he knows what standard or ideal he is working towards.

These standards are set out by governing bodies, sports associations, local governments and other interested parties.   Almost every country, and sometimes even states, have got their own regulations and recommendations in regard to lighting levels for sports but many of these are guided by associations and federations.  Every sport has been individually assessed by professionals and there are minor tweaks and changes to differentiate one from another.  The influencing factors include the size of the ball, the speed of play, the size of the field and distance from the spectators. If play is being videoed or televised also has a large impact on the level of lighting, as well as the definition required.

Another point to mention is CRI or Colour Rendering Index.  Many standards that were written pre-2010 or thereabouts don’t take LED into account as it wasn’t then available for sport applications.  If this was the case it is likely that no mention will be made of CRI.  This is because metal halide fittings, which have been used in sport for decades, naturally have a high CRI.  For those who don’t know we have inserted a comment on Colour Rendering Index giving the Wikipedia explanation as of May 2018:

‘A colour rendering index (CRI) is a quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reveal the colours of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source. Light sources with a high CRI are desirable in colour-critical applications such as neonatal care and art restoration.’

Put a bit more simply: ‘How much detail can we see’. If you are studying something fast moving or in great detail, it is important to have a very high CRI.

Anyway, back to the standards!  Mostly this information is available to download for free and we have listed some of the regulatory bodies below, but this is by no means exhaustive.

In this article we have tried to summarise required lux levels for some of the most common sports, based on the three most common types of usage, excluding televised professional games:

  1. a)Class 1 – High level competition involving national and international matches.  Stadiums are large and therefore spectators are some distance away from the action.
  2. b)Class 2 – Mid-level covering regional clubs.  Viewing is likely to be somewhat closer than for Class 1 and crowds are smaller.  This could also be a suitable level for training for Class 1.
  3. c)Class 3 – Local competitions and recreational use with no grand-stand and spectators very close to the field.  This could also be a level suitable for training for Class 2.

The summary below is gleaned primarily from our interpretation of the standards (averaging where there are differences), the majority of which are set out in EN12193.  Please note FIFA and others refer to the Classes in the reverse order and so Class 1 is for training, and so on.

 

  Lux Levels Required
Sport Type Class 1 Class 2 Class 3
Football (Soccer) 500 200 75
Rugby 500 200 75
Tennis – outdoor 500 300 200
Tennis – indoor 750 500 300
Baseball 750 500 200
Hockey 500 250 200
Athletics 500 200 100
Golf 100
Playing court 500 200 75
Swimming pool 500 300 200
Multi-purpose sports hall 750 500 200
Ice Hockey Rink 750 500 300
Badminton/Squash 750 500 300
Alpine skiing 100 30 20
Horse racing 200 100 50

 

Regulatory bodies

The regulatory bodies listed below have detailed recommendations and suggestions, covering a host of topics apart from lighting levels.  For a deeper dive into what is required, you may find some of them useful.

Fifa standard for lighting

Guidelines for lighting for AFL, Soccer and Netball in Australia

UEFA lighting guidelines

US Soccer Foundation

All USA sports – NCAA

Football Association of Ireland

Rugby Australia

Standards Australia

International Tennis Federation

Federation of International Hockey

Illuminating Engineering Society – Paid for version

CIBSE Lighting Regulations – Paid for version

So, that’s a very broad overview.  To see where you are compared to the standard there are a few apps for lux measurement which can help such as Light Lux Meter Pro for iOS or Lux Meter (Light Meter) for android.  Download one of these and you can easily check if you are getting the type of output you thought you were from your fittings.

 

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GET LUX LIGHT METER PRO
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GET LUX METER (LIGHT METER)
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 It will also give you an idea of how energy efficient your current system is and if you could improve this by replacing the bulbs or converting to LED.  There are a number of suppliers that will do a free assessment once you have provided this basic information, along with a field/pole layout.

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.

 

GET LUX LIGHT METER PRO FOR IOS FROM THE APPLE STORE GET LUX METER (LIGHT METER) FOR ANDROID FROM GOOGLE PLAY:

GET LUX LIGHT METER PRO
FOR IOS FROM THE APPLE STORE

GET LUX METER (LIGHT METER)
FOR ANDROID FROM GOOGLE PLAY

 

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.