Feature Article - October 2014
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Lighten Up

Ball Fields, Pools Get a Boost With LEDs

By Deborah L. Vence

Sports and pool facility managers are finding that switching to LED lights or simply placing their lights in a different location can help conserve energy and enable them to better manage their lighting systems and keep costs down.

"Recently LED lights have been developed to replace older style incandescent fixtures. At first, replacement LED bulbs were developed that could be used in an older incandescent fixture to basically convert the fixture to use an LED bulb. There are many benefits to replacing the incandescent bulb with an LED bulb. The illumination is much brighter and produces a bright white color, instead of the greenish color an incandescent bulb produces," said Charles R. Luecker, president and CEO of a national distributor of commercial swimming pool equipment, chemicals and supplies.

In this issue, sports lighting experts discuss the popularity of light-emitting diode technology (LED), the importance of lighting management and how even the position of your lights can make the difference in your sports or pool facility.

Energy Conservation

Energy has been a chief consideration in lighting decisions for years.

"The typical Little League field we lit in the late 1970s using a 1500-watt metal halide light source consumed about 54 kilowatts of energy," said Jeff Rogers, vice president of developmental sales for an Oskaloosa, Iowa-based company that designs and manufactures sports lighting systems.

"Today, using the same basic 1500-watt metal halide light source, we are able to achieve the same light levels using about half the energy and with significantly less impact to the surrounding environment," he said. "This results from multiple system innovations in structures, control of light, electrical systems and application for the specialized needs of lighting sports fields. Operational control systems further enhance energy efficiency."

He added: "Over the past five years, we have researched the challenge of optimizing the increased lumen output of diode technology without sacrificing the spill and glare reduction that we have been able to achieve with metal halide arc tube technology."

For example, Rogers' company has provided energy-efficient lighting solutions for thousands of customers across the globe.

"Matching our efficient design with the evolving LED technology, we've used the LED light source as the best choice for both indoor and outdoor venues," he said.

This summer LakePoint Sporting Community, a sports vacation destination in Emerson, Ga., became the first outdoor sports complex with competitive level of play to feature his company's energy-efficient lighting system, which uses an LED light source. The company's foundation-to-poletop system--using an LED light source--enhanced playability with the near absence of glare while using less than half of the energy of typical floodlighting equipment.

"With high hours of usage annually, the energy savings helped LakePoint achieve their sustainability goals," Rogers said. "Operators have flexibility to instantly turn lights on or off, or dim to preset levels during practice or between games for additional energy savings. The first phase of lighting at LakePoint features four baseball fields, three soccer/lacrosse fields and four volleyball courts."

What's more, Michigan State University installed Rogers' company's arena lighting solution with an LED light source at the Munn Ice Arena with an overwhelmingly positive response from players and coaches.

"This system not only improved the quality and quantity of the light on the playing surface, but it reduced energy consumption by 80 percent compared to the prior system," he said.

"The system's dimming controls allow the university to efficiently use energy when the full power of the system is not needed. The LED light source has less heat impact on the ice, reducing the load on ice-making equipment and further increasing the arena's overall energy savings," he added. "Michigan State also just installed our same technology at the Breslin Center."