Retrofit Lights With LEDs
As light emitting diode (LED) sports lighting continues its ascent as the cost-effective technology of choice, more parks and recreation organizations are exploring whether a retrofit project—installing new lighting on existing poles—is feasible. There's a lot to consider—from costs and energy savings to structural reliability, maintenance, on-field light quality, and light spill and glare, which, due to the LED optical point, can be worse than metal halide. The most important thing to understand is that achieving the best possible results with your retrofit involves much more than just swapping out metal halide or older light fixtures for LED.
Q: Can I just replace my lighting fixture-for-fixture?
A: The performance of different manufacturers' sports lighting varies greatly. Not all 1,500-watt metal halide systems net the same light output. And just because an LED fixture is marketed as a fixture-for-fixture equivalent of 1,500-watt metal halide lighting doesn't mean it will achieve those same light levels. Photometric lighting designs should always be done to ensure that you're not reducing the existing light levels with your LED retrofit.
Q: How do I ensure the new lighting is compatible with my current poles?
A: While a retrofit utilizes existing poles, make sure to use a complete system solution with structural and electrical components—like new crossarms and enclosed wiring—designed to work together with the lighting. Non-system fixtures rely on all of the existing structural elements. So if you're planning a retrofit project, it's crucial to assess the existing structures and think about whether they can be relied upon for another 20 years.
Q: Aren't all LED fixtures the same?
A: This is perhaps the biggest misperception in sports lighting today. Replacing a high-quality metal halide system with poorly-designed LED fixtures won't guarantee the same light levels or control over glare and light spill. Controlling and applying light in a sports setting is as critical with LED as it's been with metal halide and every other previous light source. It takes decades of research and experience mastering those principles to realize the potential of LED with regard to light quality and minimizing glare and spill.
Q: Why should I retrofit with LED?
A: Retrofitting with a well-designed LED system can offer an array of significant benefits. It's an ideal solution for increasing light levels and enhancing playability. If your field is in a residential neighborhood, the top solutions on the market include advanced visoring technology that greatly minimizes glare and light spill from impacting neighbors. And it can reduce energy consumption by upward of 70 percent.
Q: How much will it cost to retrofit with LED?
A: Advances in technology have made LED a cost-effective option in most cases. Some questions to ask as you explore the feasibility of your project include: Are there financing options to help bring it within financial reach? How long is the warranty? And how clear is the warranty so there are no surprises about what's covered and what isn't?
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