Feature Article - October 2005
Find a printable version here

Shed Some Light

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

By Kyle Ryan


Reflectivity may be less of an issue on sports fields, but fields can reflect enough light to create glare and sky glow. Glare is notoriously hard to decrease, but newer technology has made it less of an issue. The best bet for a facility is to make sure their fixtures have visors or louvres (visors inside the fixture itself) and are correctly placed around the fields. Although they're more expensive, internal louvres are better than external visors, according to Good.

"They're really great because they go inside of the lens, which means you don't have a place for bugs and spiders and things to create nests," he says. "You don't have place for dirt and things to collect because they're inside the fixtures doing the same job.

He continues: "The other great thing about being inside the fixture, going back to that vibration issue, [is] a big hood or something hanging on the front of the fixture catches a lot of wind, like a big wind sail, so if a gust of wind goes by, it shakes the whole thing. And if you can put it inside, your wind-loading is reduced."

That may seem like overkill; will wind catching one fixture really create much of a problem for a massive 75-foot pole? Maybe—especially if poles have a half-dozen or more fixtures on them.

"The fixture's more expensive with those internal louvres a lot of time," Good says, "but if it's less wind-loading, you may be saving on your pole because your pole doesn't have to be as strong, and you may be getting more life out of it, so in the end, it ends up being a less expensive item."

Everyone knows a world of difference lies between simply saving money and skimping. Like with a lot of other situations, skimping during the beginning of a project can end up costing a lot more money later on. In Okoboji, Bob Miller knew that going into the softball field project.

"We just wanted to do it right," he says. He knew he made the right decision pretty quickly.

"When we went to the state softball tournament this year, the state venue has the exact same kind of lights that we do," he says. "So we figure if it's good enough for the state, it should be good enough for Okoboji."