Sports fields and stadiums rely on high-output, high-reliability lighting to ensure optimal visibility at field level and in the stands. Until recently, this lighting was delivered using outdated technologies like metal halides or high-pressure sodium lamps. While these legacy lighting systems are capable of high outputs, they’re inefficient, short-lived, and limited in functionality.
Efficiency, longevity and functionality are just a few of LED’s advantages, along with several others. Unsurprisingly, professional venues are making the switch to LED stadium lighting, too. More than half of MLB stadiums have switched, for example, as well as several NFL stadiums. And if LED lighting is sufficient for professional-level athletics, it’s more than capable for high school and neighborhood fields.
Is it time for your venue to transition to LED lighting? Here’s four reasons why many other venues have made the switch:
LED Lights Reduce Operating Costs
LED lighting offers a double cost-saving advantage to sports stadiums and any other large-scale project. First, LED lights offer unsurpassed energy efficiency. This energy savings alone is enough for many to consider LED sports lighting. And the larger your system, the greater those savings.
A 400W metal halide light, for example, can be replaced by a 200W LED light that offers just as much high quality illumination. That’s a 50 percent cut in electricity usage per lamp, which can mean hundreds per lamp, depending on the type of fixtures the sports field is currently operating.
LED’s longevity also minimizes maintenance costs, which are a part of a lighting system’s year-over-year expense. A typical LED stadium light will provide between 30,000 and 50,000 hours of high quality illumination before replacement is likely required. Compare that to metal halides, which drop about 20 percent of their lumen count within a few thousand hours of operation. Most metal halides are out of commission by the 10,000 hour mark, and many fail before that. High pressure sodium lamps last longer, but still fail before they hit 20,000 hours.
Add it all up, and this means you’ll need to replace a metal halide four or more times before a single LED replacement is required. And you’ll switch out a high pressure sodium lamp twice, at least, before that LED burns out.
Fewer lamp replacements will reduce purchasing costs, clearly, but that’s not all. Sports field and stadium fixtures are mounted on tall poles, some as high as 100 feet. Accessing these fixtures requires special, and therefore expensive, equipment. Reducing those calls to maintenance will further expedite your system’s ROI.
LEDs are Flicker-free and Do Not Require a Warm-up Period
An LED system is more than a cost-saver, though. In many ways, it offers comparable or superior performance to legacy lighting, especially for a sports field. One important advantage is LED’s flicker-free lighting quality. LED lamps emit a steady stream of flawless illumination that isn’t marred by distracting flicker.
More importantly, though, LED fixtures do not require a warmup period before they reach maximum output. They generate 100 percent of their rated output within moments of switching on, so they can be turned on right before sundown and still provide enough illumination for night-time playing conditions. Compare this instant-on functionality to metal halides, which take so long to warm up that they must be switched on well before the sun sets. That’s a lot of wasted energy and wasted money.
And if the stadium’s lights are fitted with advanced lighting controls, LEDs can save additional power while warming up. That’s because they can be brought up slowly as the sun fades, and only brought to maximum output right when it’s needed.
LED Stadium Lights Offer Excellent Illumination Quality and Visibility
Early versions of LED lighting lagged behind legacy options in lighting quality, but current generation LED fixtures have caught up in this area. Now, LED lights generate even, brilliant illumination ideal for excellent field-level visibility.
LED fixtures are built with secondary optics that ensure evenly metered illumination, free of flaws like hotspots or shadows. Also, current generation LEDs are available in high-CRI models. A lamp’s CRI (color rendering index) refers to its ability to accurately render colors, so the higher a light’s CRI rating, the easier it is for people to distinguish colors at a distance.
When the ball’s flying during an intense game, LED’s enhanced CRI makes it easier for players and spectators to follow the game.
LED Fixtures Can Be Shielded and Placed for Low-glare Results
One of LED lighting’s benefits is its directionality. Due to their engineering, LED fixtures emit illumination in a tighter spread than legacy technologies. Metal halides and fluorescent lights, for example, radiate illumination in all directions. LEDs don’t do this, which allows installers to precisely aim where the light goes.
In application, this means LED lighting can be positioned and modified so that it produces minimal glare. LED sportslighters are available in several light distribution patterns, including offset patterns where the fixtures can still emit high levels of illumination on the field, without being anywhere near the field of play.
Some LED fixtures can also be shielded to prevent light emission in certain directions. Shielding is normally done to prevent high-brightness fixtures from emitting illumination into the air and causing light pollution. This same approach can also be used to prevent glare from affecting players and viewers during a match.
LED lighting is reliable, durable and energy efficient. It emits minimal heat, works well in all conditions, is highly controllable, comes with an extended lifespan and produces clean, brilliant illumination. There are many reasons why LED lighting is becoming the first choice for athletic venues, including professional sports stadiums.
Another reason for LED’s gaining popularity is a new one – it’s accessibility. In the past, it was prohibitively expensive to transition to LED lighting, but there are now retrofit solutions that can be integrated into existing lighting systems. Retrofit LED solutions can be used to replace outdated lighting components at the fixture level or lamp level, so there are multiple options – along with multiple price points – to choose from. That means the advantages of LED lighting are available to all sports fields, from neighborhood parks to world-class stadiums.