5 Ways LED Is Changing Sports Field Lighting
By Mike Lorenz
LED sports lighting is gaining momentum, because more than one-third of all professional teams in the big-four sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL) have replaced their facility’s antiquated metal-halide-lighting systems with a controllable and energy-efficient LED-lighting solution. Players benefit from the enhanced lighting, fans enjoy the entertaining light shows, and the operations staff revel in the unmatched controllability and the near-elimination of maintenance.
Once the technology was proven to be superior, it became easy for professional-sports-venue operators to make the switch to LED lighting. But for facility operators at local parks and municipal fields, the decision to make the switch is not as simple. For most facilities, it did not seem practical to install the same lighting fixtures that light the major leagues for their Pop Warner football games and recreational softball leagues.
Eaton’s Ephesus Lighting understood these concerns; and after several years of research, they developed the Ephesus All Field Series specifically for the municipal-field market. Here are the five-most-common questions we get from municipalities that want to understand how LED lighting can work for them.
Is it true that the energy savings will essentially pay for the system? Although it is true that an LED-lighting solution may initially cost more, the combination of energy savings and dramatically reduced maintenance results in most municipalities seeing a return on investment in less than 10 years, depending on local energy rates and usage. Also, many power companies and state agencies offer rebates and incentives when converting to energy-efficient LED to further reduce adoption costs.
I’m hesitant to remove my current lights and poles. Is that required? Ephesus All Field LED lighting is specially designed to be installed on your existing poles and associated infrastructure. You’ll save tremendously on the installation costs, and you won’t need to shut down your field for weeks while the old poles are removed and the new poles are installed. Also, there are systems that offer wireless control of the lights, so whether it’s a retrofit or a new installation, you’ll eliminate the need to install or connect control wiring.
Light pollution is a big concern, because my fields are in a residential neighborhood. What about that? If you already have lights on your field, your neighbors will be thrilled when you switch to an LED system, because the Ephesus All Field delivers uniform light on the field much more efficiently than metal halide, and it significantly reduces unwanted light spill and sky glow. For every five foot-candles of light spill from a typical metal-halide system, you can expect half a foot-candle from Ephesus LED fixtures. If you don’t yet have sports lights because of petitions from the neighbors, the reduced light spill and the ability to set the lights to operate on customized schedules and zones, which could serve as security lights, may help get the installation approved.
Is it true that I can control the lights from my mobile phone? There are a variety of control systems available, and many of them allow the flexibility to schedule the lights from your phone or through the web. The most important thing to understand is the total control that an LED system offers, such as zoning, scheduling, and dimming. You can adjust the dimming of the lights from 1 to 100 percent depending upon your needs. We even know of a baseball facility that keeps the artificial-turf infield lit and the grass outfield dark when it rains so that teams can take infield practice without damaging the outfield grass. Similarly, multi-field complexes can light only the fields necessary, rather than the entire complex.
My biggest problem with my current lighting system is the maintenance cost. Are LED-lighting solutions really maintenance-free? We can’t claim to be 100 percent maintenance-free, because twice-yearly system inspections are recommended. However, for most facilities that convert to LED, the maintenance costs become insignificant. There are no bulbs or ballasts to replace, and most systems are guaranteed to last for more than 150,000 hours and for 25 years. Some control systems will even warn you if a light is consuming an abnormal amount of power or if it is running at too high of a temperature, which can be a sign of a problem or potential failure. Operators can then respond proactively, rather than experience a failure during an event.
Where can I learn more? You can find more information on the advantages of LED sports lighting by visiting www.LEDwithinReach.com.
Mike Lorenz is the President of Eaton’s Ephesus Lighting Business, the leader in innovating high-output solid-state sports-lighting solutions for a broad range of applications, from municipal ballfields to indoor and outdoor professional venues. For more information, visit www.eaton.com/ephesus.