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LED lights for sports and stadium

Last updated on December 11, 2021

An LED is a semiconductor device that emits light when an electric current is passed through it. When electrons in a semiconductor recombine with electron holes, energy is released in the form of photons.

The power needed for electrons to travel through the semiconductor’s band gap, which is similar to photon energy, controls the colour of the light.

This article highlights the details, advantages and requirements for sports and stadium lighting, and the benefits achieved from using LED systems.

What are stadium lights?

Sports like baseball, cricket, football, etc., require high and well studied levels of lighting to ensure a smooth game. To accomplish this, high powered lights, called stadium lights or floodlights, are mounted on large poles or on stadium crowns, and directed at specific beam angles. These angles can range from 12 to 60 degrees, to produce a uniform horizontal and vertical lumen level all over the field.

Source: Here

The heights and angles of the high intensity fixtures can be altered according to specific requirements, and the output of these units can reach up to an astounding 300 footcandles at ground level. The heights of the pole are on average 50 feet, but can go as high up to 100 feet if required.

LED stadium lights have surpassed all other traditional sources of lighting due to their specific characteristics such as dynamic nature, efficiency, and easy control. The most widely used type of stadium light is aimed at an angle of 30 degrees, creating a coverage circular area with an approximate diameter of 50 feet when mounted at the height of 30 feet from the ground.

Importance of proper lighting in stadiums

Although lighting is not the first feature that interests or captures the attention of visitors at sports stadiums, sports lighting has tremendous value in highlighting the entire stadium and providing a dynamic and enthusiastic setting for spectators.

This is evident in the fact that spectators thoroughly remember events with bad lighting or lighting disruptions. The 2013 Super Bowl XLVII is often remembered due to the fact that a lighting outage occurred in the middle of the game. Below are a few points that demonstrate the importance of good lighting to sports events.

  • For players – Lighting that closely imitates the sunlight is the best for any type of sports. LED lights can achieve this effect better than other light sources, by providing a uniform anti-glare luminescence for both indoor and outdoor fields, leading to an excellent playing experience for players both day and night.
  • For the audience – Whether live or broadcasted, good lighting greatly improves the experience for the viewer. It allows easier tracking of live moments across huge stadiums and plays a vital role in the quality and contrast of the broadcast 
  • Safety reasons – Chances of injuries increase greatly due to improper lighting, and if any problem arises, the responsibility would fall upon the sports complex owners. This critical safety factor makes the decision to invest in a good quality lighting system a very sound one. Moreover, the surveillance systems installed within the stadium greatly improve their performance in well lit environments.

Advantages of using LED lights for sports and stadiums?

1️⃣ LED lights are extremely brilliant and have a much longer lifetime than any other lighting product in sports arenas. Although other lighting products were utilized before the introduction of LED sports solutions in 1962, their arrival forced the domination over the industry due to their unique qualities.

LED lighting can operate for 20+ years of illumination without requiring any maintenance; and has been thoroughly tested and proven over time. Unlike traditional types of illumination, LED lights do not need to be replaced every three to five years.

Source: Here

Considering the reflection of LED output and the different advantages LED lights offer, LED lighting provides a better overall in-house experience.

 2️⃣ LED lights reduce a sport’s operational costs – Lighting stadiums with traditional lighting is a costly operation, and will make the daily operation of the stadium for training more complicated or restricted to parts of the stadium or day-use, to make use of natural overhead sunlight.

However, this limits the team’s training capacity, as they often would play in lit stadiums.

 3️⃣ Low heat generation – standard sport lights/lamps are extremely powerful and effectively produce very strong rays of light and ultimately intense heat, all of which can cause a variety of health issues.

LED lights generate less heat than traditional types of sports lighting. Low-heat emitting LED lights would be ideal as alternatives, without sacrificing any of the space’s visual feel.

4️⃣ It is flicker-free lighting – Because LED lights do not have a controlled burst cycle, they light up randomly. When this happens, no one would notice because it is a very fast process, the cycle is a very fast one such that the human eye will only see a certain amount of light coming from the fixture.

Even when slow-motion playback is used, the amount of visible flashing is never seen. Normally, smartphones and video cameras do not have flickers, this enables sports fans to enjoy high quality videos.

With older lighting solutions, such as metal halide and high-pressure sodium, TV cameras often showed flickering during slow motion playback.

 5️⃣ Quality CRI for clear colour – sharp vision is key on the playing field and it is critical for detecting any motion on the field, and LED lights can provide strong focus on the actions happening on the field.

This is achieved by using high CRI levels, which enables all the players on the field to see everything around them clearly. CRI is the balance between light and dark colour, but it is not restricted to contrast control.

6️⃣  No shadows or a blind spots in the stadium – playing in a stadium with natural light will naturally cause shadows and blind spots but with properly installed and directed LED lights, every part of the field is clear and sharp for players to enjoy the game.

LED light improves the ability of players on the field to see from all angles without any impediment or restriction, even removing the visual discomfort of overhead shadows, which can block certain details from the vision of players.

7️⃣ Better light direction – A typical sports light uses a filament with 360 degrees of light that must be reflected by a reflector; however, regardless of how good the reflector is, the light is scattered outwardly without refining.

LED light, on the other hand, is a single source light which emits only 180 degrees of light (half of what a conventional light emits), and can be narrowed down using lenses.

LED lighting offers the advantage of reducing light pollution, allowing a field to be illuminated using a very precise mathematical calculation.

8️⃣ There is no need to wait to begin playing – one of the merits of LED lights over other lights is that they instantly function.

Even when the stadium lights are turned off there is no waiting period when they are turned back on, they work instantly. They do not need to warm-up as do metal-halide or halogen types.

It can take as long as 15 minutes for these older lights to reach maximum brightness, and this lead time should always be calculated and taken into account.

With LED lights, the effect is instant and the lights are ready whenever necessary. In addition, this lighting can be dimmed or increased gradually to create a dramatic effect.

9️⃣ Effective in any weather – in winter or summer, LED lights work effectively well, as they are not affected by these weather conditions.

Cold weather accompanied with ice and snow will slow the heating up of filaments for traditional lights, hot weather can cause them to overheat. LED lights are resistant to these conditions and are not affected, neither by heat, nor by snow.

Factors to consider when selecting high performance LED lights for sports and stadiums

There are certain factors to take into consideration when selecting the best LED light solutions for sports and stadiums, which are crucial to determine the efficiency of the LED lights suitable for the stadium. These factors include:

➡ Energy efficiency – different LED lights have different luminous efficiencies; it depends on the LED light produced to use in the stadium.

➡ Anti-glare – If the glare index of the stadium lighting is high, the player is subjected to a curtain of strong light, which deters him/her from seeing and following a flying ball, leading to poor performance, and even injury. The GL-SFL series stadium light is ideal for resolving this issue, as it has an anti-glare shield which may greatly decrease glare and manage light leakage.

➡ Heat dissipation system – A strong cooling system is very important for stadium LED lights, which are similar to any computer or high powered electronic system requiring proper heat dissipation. Heat is a major factor to study and resolve because too much heat can cause problems in the stadium.

➡ Ease of Installation – with advancements in systems technology, and in installation procedures, you should logically aim for LED solutions that are easy to install and set-up within the stadium.

➡ Control – LED lights with smart and swift control will provide the most dynamic and engaging results for the stadium, replacing traditional metal halide lights that can’t be controlled smartly, and are confined to an on/off switch control.

However, the need for lighting goes beyond the lighting system itself; light is studied with the aim of creating an ambiance and making the surroundings more engaging. Many stadiums are used for more than just games or training; they often host shows, seminars in addition to other events, considering varying requirements for the brightness and lighting effects for each type of scene.

➡ Resistance to the wind – LED lights should be easy to install but at the same time, they should be wind-resistant.

LED Vs. incandescent, halogen and CFL lights. Why Switch to LED lights for Stadiums?

Brightness

LED lights are brighter than other traditional light types (incandescent, halogen, CFL), with a varying amount of light that each bulb can produce.

Lumens are a unit of measurement of the brightness of the bulb, and the brighter the light is, the larger the lumen value. The most effective way to determine a light bulb’s efficiency is to compare the brightness (lumens) to the power (wattage).

Incandescent light bulbs provide around 15 lumens per watt, so to achieve an output of 900 lumens, they need to draw 60 watts of power.

Halogen light bulbs, on the other hand, are more efficient at 25 lumens per watt, and fluorescent light bulbs produce 60 lumens per watt.

LED lights are the most efficient, producing an average 90 lumens per watt. This means that a 10-watt LED light will provide the same light output as a 60-watt alternative.

Power

LED lights produce the highest brightness levels, measured in watts, which can vary according to the light output and the higher the wattage, the more energy the bulb uses to generate light. Traditional light bulbs typically have a wattage of 40 to 150 watts.

Each light bulb consumes around 20% more energy when compared to an LED alternative, which is why it’s a good idea to invest in more energy-efficient stadium lights.

Heat Emission

Not only do LED lights consume less energy than traditional sources, they also produce less heat than incandescent, halogen, and compact fluorescent lights. Incandescent light bulbs, for example, waste more than 90% of their energy in the form of heat.

Although all electrical equipment can produce heat, LED light bulbs emit much less heat than incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs.

This is due to the special design of LED solutions in their fins. Fins are a type of surface that allows heat to escape from the base of a light bulb. Traditional incandescent light bulbs do not have this feature, and as a result, get too hot to touch after only a few minutes of operation.

LED light bulbs, on the other hand, can stay cool even over long periods of operation.

Mercury

Unlike fluorescent and CFL light bulbs which are typically used in office spaces, LED lights do not contain harmful elements like mercury.

A fluorescent bulb that fails and releases mercury gas could harm people nearby, as mercury is toxic to humans and can spread throughout a structure. Since LED lights do not contain mercury or other dangerous substances, they are much safer when damaged, and are more environmentally friendly.

Operational Cost

LED lights have a lower operating cost than traditional lighting (incandescent, halogen, CFL). Consider for example you’re illuminating a small commercial building with 20×60-watt incandescent light bulbs for 12 hours every day on average.

Assuming the lights will be turned on for the full 12-hour period. Switching to Halogen light bulbs, will reduce your costs from $832.66 to $604.90, which leads to $242.79 annual savings.

Switching to CFL (compact fluorescent light bulbs), you can save $620.72 per year, and switching to LED lights can help you save up to $690.00 each year.

Lighting requirements for stadiums

In this segment, a standard football stadium will be used as a reference. Below are three lighting requirements of a standard football stadium:

  1. Uniformity standard
  2. Brightness also regarded as lux level
  3. Temperature of color

Source: Here

Uniformity standard

Uniformity ranges from 0 to 1 (at maximum) on a normal scale, which reflects the allocation of the lumen output across the sports field. It is the proportion of lowest lumen value to the average luminous intensity (U1), or minimum to maximum luminous intensity (U2).

Accordingly, if the lux level is consistent throughout the stadium, for example between 650 and 700 lux, the gap between the minimum and highest value is minor, and the uniformity is closer to 1.

The normal standard football stadium should have a lighting uniformity of 0.7, which is fairly difficult to achieve in the sports lighting sector.

LUX level (i.e., brightness)

Football organizations closely dictate and monitor the brightness of the pitch, because if it isn’t handled properly, it can affect the players. The standard lux levels for games which require broadcasting and those that don’t differ greatly.

According to FIFA’s stadium lighting guide, the class V (i.e., globally televised games such as the World Cup) football pitch has the highest standard level of close to 2300 lux (vertical – players’ faces) and 3500 lux (horizontal – the turf).

If the football field is for community use, it requires a lux level of 190. (Entertainment purpose). A high school or college football stadium requires up to 500 lux.

Color temperature

The colour temperature standard for a football field is greater than 3000K for all grades. Cool white light in the range of 5000K to 6000K generally provides better illumination for the players and the audience as these colour ranges give a livelier appearance.

A few, distinct measures need to be taken and considered when designing a lighting system for a football stadium. These measures are part of the lighting design, or photometric analysis, and are intended to make the stadium appear brighter and more colorful.

STEP 1 – constructing the football field

There are different software packages for stadium lighting designers, one of the most known is DIALux. It has the ability to simulate practically any type of indoor or outdoor sports field.

There are various template fields available, including a football field, a tennis court, a badminton court, and more, and the designer can create a drawing of the light pole along with the required measurements.

The goal is to imitate a real-life environment and light positioning, which aids in the production of more precise outcomes.

STEP 2 – putting together the LED floodlight

This is where creativity comes in, this design scope simulates how well-lit and appealing the stadium would look upon its completion.

The lighting engineer will assign the luminaires to the elevated light poles, manipulating a variety of power, lumen output, and beam angle combinations to test dramatically diverse results.

These iterations will eventually lead to the best football field lighting design, which satisfies the minimum requirements, and achieves an interesting and unique design.

STEP 3 – providing a review on photometric evaluation

Finally, a report is generated, consisting of various components. The lux value across the field is shown in the value chart, which provides you with a general impression of how bright the ground of the stadium is.

The isolines connect the same illuminance into a single line, while the fake colour rendering optimizes the field’s brightness display.

There are common mistakes to avoid while designing the stadium/sport lights, these mistakes can mess up the stadium design:

➡ Flickering mistake – This mistake is particularly apparent in football stadiums where international, televised competitions are held.

You should ensure that the lighting for the football pitch does not cause flickering to a slow-motion camera in the lighting design; otherwise, the experience of the audience will be negatively impacted.

The flashing strobe light has an effect on replay judgment and can make the stadium lighting appear as if done at amateur level.

➡ Light pollution mistake – LED lights ranging from 60000 to 100000 watts are used in the stadiums. The lack of proper light control causes light spills, which have a very negative impact on the quality of life of those who live nearby. Additionally, high glare from the stadium can distort the road users’ vision, placing lives in danger.

To address this concern, some LED stadium lights feature an anti-glare and precise optical system that directs light to appropriate locations, reducing light dissipation. Furthermore, using floodlights with lower beam angles lead to concentrating the light.

➡ Longevity of luminaire – LED lights do not all have the same lifespan; it varies based on the LED product. It will be extremely unpleasant if a stadium light goes out during a match or even during training; therefore, you should consider the durability and effectiveness of LED lights when installing them in stadiums.

Here are some stadiums with outstanding lighting system

  1. Anfield stadium – the home of Liverpool football club in England.
  2. AT&T football stadium – stadium in Arlington, Texas, in United States.
  3. San Siro – football stadium in Italy used by AC Milan.
  4. Osasuna Stadium – owned by Osasuna football club in Spain.
  5. Victoria stadium – football stadium in Wincham, Northwich in England.
  6. Camp Nou – stadium owned by Barcelona football club in Spain.

Anfield Stadium – the home of Liverpool football club in England. Source: Here

AT&T football stadium – stadium in Arlington, Texas, in United States. Source: Here

San Siro – this is a football stadium in Italy used by AC Milan. Source: Here

Osasuna Stadium – owned by Osasuna football club in Spain. Source: Here

Victoria stadium – a football stadium in Wincham, Northwich in England. Source: Here

Camp Nou – a stadium owned by Barcelona football club in Spain. Source: Here

Conclusion

The lighting system of a stadium is essential and is one of the key features that distinguishes the stadium, and is also an important factor to consider during the planning process. There is a wide variety of LED sports products on the market, so if you are planning to construct a sporting stadium, it is advisable to conduct a thorough research to determine the most suitable type for your specific stadium needs, and to hire a professional to carry out a well-designed study to meet the stadium requirements.


The Sonar Series represents the latest technology and highest efficacy of 190lm/W for industrial, commercial and retail lighting. The compact design allows for ease of installation across a range of settings, with the inclusion of an optional sensor. #LEDHighBays

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