Sports lighting – Common misconceptions


The same can be said with the outdoor environment, light is being used to make us feel at ease after dark. We now have a 24 hour a day life style with supermarkets and entertainment venues open throughout the night.

This is also true for sports lighting, the advent of digital TV with dedicated sport channels has made us more interested in sport and has led to an increase in participation. Schools, sports clubs and private individuals are keen to have a floodlit pitch to bring sport to the community.

The increase in new developments often leads to objections from concerned residents, planning departments and other interested parties. The concerns vary from site to site and are not always aimed at the potential intrusion of obtrusive light or overspill from the floodlighting system. Floodlighting, however, is often the most visible component of a new sports development and also suffers from a number common misconceptions.

The lighting will look like daylight -Compared with daylight artificial lighting levels are very low. The brightest direct sunlight we can expect is around 120,000 Lux and around 10,000-20,000 Lux on an overcast day. The average school hockey pitch is illuminated to 350-500 Lux and amateur football clubs 200-250 Lux. Even the most intense lighting systems used for professional sports produce low lighting levels compared with sunlight(Football Stadia 1200-2000 Lux, Cricket Grounds 2000-2200 Lux).

Lower columns will reduce impact and overspill – This is probably the most common mistake people make as it would seem to be common sense that lower columns reduce impact. If we lower the mounting height the elevation of the floodlights has to increase to produce uniform lighting over the pitch. For hockey the optimum mounting height is 15m, but if this is reduced by 3m to 12m the vertical light overspill will almost double in intensity.

The lights will shine into the night sky – Modern flat glass floodlights use specially designed reflectors which allow them to be mounted horizontally when installed. This means that the light shines downwards on to the pitch and is not wasted into the atmosphere.

The light will shine into my windows – Developments in luminaire design and CAD simulations mean that effective shielding can be design for almost any installation. Gone are the days when club would install a few lamp posts and floodlights, then adjust the lights until it ‘looked right’. Lighting design has become very scientific with lighting engineers calculating the exact aiming coordinates prior to installation.

Full cut off floodlights are less efficient – The use of flat glass floodlights has reduced energy consumption by around 15% compared with standard asymmetric reflectors. Virtually no light is wasted as the momentum towards environmentally sound installations increases.

Painting the masts/floodlights green makes them less visible during the day – Tests have shown that the best colour for floodlights and masts is light grey as this tends to blend in to the skyline. Rather than painting masts the galvanised protective finish oxidises to a dull grey colour after a few months.

Users will forget to turn the lights off – We have many ways of controlling the lights, including programmable timers which switch the lights off at a pre-set curfew time and photocells which override the floodlights if it is too light to need them.

A carefully designed sports installation can be hugely beneficial to the community, providing a focus for the young, raising fitness levels and breading our stars of the future. It doesn’t have to be a blight on the landscape either. By choosing wisely your installation will be efficient, well controlled and designed to fit in with the environment.

CU Phosco Lighting Limited

Neil Johnson – Sports Lighting Manager

Tel: 01920 860600


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