Feature Article - October 2005
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Shed Some Light

How to avoid making costly mistakes when it comes to sports field lighting

By Kyle Ryan


Fixtures house the lamps and play a critical role in their functionality. The most high-tech lamp quickly will be rendered useless if it's not protected well or designed to withstand the elements.

"I personally wouldn't skimp on the fixture," Good says.

One of the problems with substandard fixtures, Good says, is their improper heat-synching—meaning heat bottles up inside of the fixture instead of being pulled out of it. While it won't cause any safety issues, it can shorten the life of the components inside. Another problem comes from pressure within the fixture, which fluctuates as it heats up and cools down. That can cause dust to get sucked into the lens, which obviously affects light quality.

To determine a fixture's susceptibility to dust and water, manufacturers rate them according to ingress protection (IP) standards, which use two numbers to describe a fixture's attributes. The first, which goes from zero to six, determines how dust-tight it is: Zero would be the lowest, with six being airtight. The second number describes the same type of thing, only with water, and its rating goes from zero to eight.

"Zero would be a whale could swim through it; there's no protecting it," Good says. "Eight means you can submerse it underwater with pressure. Obviously if it's up on a pole, if it's submersed, you've got a real problem."

Good generally suggests using fixtures with a 6.5 or 6.6 rating, which means they're pretty tight overall and can be cleaned with a high-pressure hose (6.6 to be safe), generally the easiest way to clean the fixtures.

The seals still can fail, though, as Postlethwait routinely discovers, particularly on the front nine holes of Knight's Play. "For some reason, there's so many of them, something just happens," he says. "I've had problems with everything. I've had lightning bolts hit them; I've had balls stuck in them; I've had bees in them; I've had broken lamps."