LED Stadium Lighting – Modern Systems are More Efficient and More Powerful
When selecting a new stadium lighting solution, there are a few important boxes to check. High lumen output? A must have. A reliable, low maintenance design? Absolutely. Excellent energy efficiency? Can’t go without it. Comprehensive weather resistance? You bet.
In short, stadium lighting systems have to clear a high bar – one that legacy lighting technologies like metal halides are having increasing trouble getting over.
That’s why more stadium owners are turning to LED lighting instead. LED lighting solutions check off the above boxes and can provide a rapid ROI – whether they’re used for football, baseball, basketball, tennis, rodeos, or any another sporting event. That ROI can be accelerated further if system installation is overseen by an experienced lighting team.
What makes LED stadium lighting the future of sporting events? Read on.
What to Look For in Any New Set of Stadium LED Fixtures
LED sportlighters are designed to replace metal halides – largely utilized as a frontline option in large venues like stadiums. This follows a similar pattern seen in many lighting applications – LED lights are adapted for a particular lighting application and rapidly replace existing lighting technologies used for that application. In office buildings, that’s fluorescent. In stadiums, that’s metal halides.
If your stadium has metal halide fixtures in place and is looking to transition to LED lighting, here are some features to look for:
- High lumen output – The brighter the lights, the better for stadium lighting applications. Metal halides are prized for their brilliant output, but LED sportlighters compare favorably (or even surpass metal halides).A 400W LED sportlighter can output up to 60,000 lumens – a comparable metal halide requires 1,000W or more. A 600W LED sportlighter outputs up to 90,000 lumens – a comparable metal halide needs more than 2,000W to provide the same amount of illumination.Not only do LEDs generate the same amount of lumen output, they do so while only requiring 40 percent of the input energy.
- High-CRI output – Excellent color rendering is critical for sports stadiums, as better color rendering improves long range visibility – an important consideration for fast-paced play.LED sportlighters are right there with metal halides in terms of color rendering, and there are high-end luminaires capable of achieving CRI ratings of 80+. That’s more than sufficient for most applications.
- Extended life LEDs – Standard LED lights already enjoy a massive lifespan advantage. On average, they provide around 50,000 hours of quality illumination before lumen maintenance forces replacement. Compare this to metal halides, which are no longer viable by the 10,000 hour mark. Within a couple thousand hours, metal halides have already suffered a noticeable drop in lumen output.And top-end LED sportlighters take this advantage further. Some can provide more than 100,000 hours of quality illumination before hitting the L70 mark, which means replacement is only required once a decade, if that.
- A proven, quality driver – In many lighting systems, the lamp isn’t the most likely failure point. It’s the ballast or, in the case of LED lighting, the driver.As such, it’s important to target a high-quality LED driver when setting up a stadium lighting system. This means picking a reputable supplier – Meanwell and Sosen are two highly respected options.
- Multiple optics options – LED lighting is extremely flexible and can be paired with a variety of optical components to create a variety of distribution patterns. It’s important for stadium owners to pick an LED stadium light that also offers this flexibility, as it will give the design and installation team more latitude to develop an optimal system.
- A weather-resistant IP rating – Stadium lighting may be regularly exposed to the elements, so weather resistance is a must. A shorthand way to assess a fixture’s weather fitness is its IP rating. IP ratings consist of two numbers – the first specifies the fixture’s protection against solid ingress and the second specifies resistance to water ingress.For the purposes of stadium lighting, an IP66 rating is highly recommended. This level of protection provides superior shielding against dust and water exposure, including exposure to pressurized water jets. The only thing IP66 fixtures can’t withstand is submersion in water, but if that happens, you’ve got bigger problems to worry about.
LED Stadium Fixtures are Available in Several Light Distribution Options, So They’re a Fit for Any Venue
One of LED’s primary advantages is its directionality. Unlike metal halides, which emit illumination in an omnidirectional pattern, LED lamps can be aimed with precision.
Lighting manufacturers are leveraging this trait by pairing LEDs with a variety of optical systems. Further, LED lamps are designed with many lighting elements which can be arranged for better distribution (metal halides only feature a single bulb). The result is a variety of distribution options, so no matter the stadium’s size or shape, LED sportlighters can be adapted to light it perfectly.
For example, Type III and IV LEDs are popular options for sports facilities because they throw illumination forward instead of focusing it directly around the fixture. This allows installers to keep any poles or frame elements a safe distance from the field of play.
Implementing a New Stadium Lighting Solution? Consider a Photometric Analysis First
Lighting distribution is important because ultimately, the goal of any stadium lighting system is to ensure adequate visibility levels across the entire field. Ideally, that can be accomplished while minimizing the number of fixtures (and amount of power) required.
That can be a tough balance to strike, which is why a photometric analysis is recommended prior to installation. A photometric analysis provides a clear idea of what the proposed system will look like and how it will perform. It’s the lighting equivalent of looking before leaping. Specifically, here’s what photometric analysis determines:
- The type of fixtures that will be installed – Through photometric software, lighting designers have a deep library of LED fixtures to choose from and to visualize projects. And each luminaire simulates exactly how it will perform in real life, as the manufacturer’s performance data is baked into each fixture.This allows designers to quickly compare a number of fixture options and identify the best fixtures for the project.
- Where the fixtures will be installed – With photometric software, the project site can be visualized and fixtures placed anywhere to simulate the final look. Designers can try out a variety of different layouts to see which one works best, so nothing is done by feel during installation.
- The exact level of luminous intensity at every spot – Photometric software tracks lighting levels every time a change is made – whether it’s a different fixture or a different mounting spot.Specifically, the software computes luminous flux present at every square foot, represented visually and numerically. With a photometric analysis, lighting designers can ensure sufficient lighting intensity levels down to the square foot.
With this information defined, the lighting team and the venue owners will know what the project will entail cost and time wise, so both parties are on the same page before moving forward.
LED Stadium Lighting Allows People to See Sports in a Whole New Light
Metal halides are rapidly being phased out for more reliable, more efficient lighting options – and LED sportlighters are the heir apparent. With their excellent operating efficiency, superior performance, and unmatched versatility, LED stadium lights are a fit for any venue, no matter the sport.