Sports floodlighting


parc-y-scarlets-huw-evans-image-pressFloodlighting can really help your club by being there on the sidelines projecting the required amount of light from the most economical source just where and when you need it.

Darkness robs of you of a third of the time that you could be using your club’s most valuable asset – the pitch or court. With silent supporters – precision floodlights – you can arrange your schedule to suit your pleasure and not the sun’s. And it can be acheived without distrurbing your neighbours.

But playing and training aren’t the only club functions to benefit. It also gets dark in the summer so think of the barbecues and events you run to raise funds. They can benefit from outdoor lighting too. And what about a well lit car park with no more crunched wings and crumpled tempers? Remember, all the time your ground is lying dark and idle it could be bursting with life and activity. And that’s what a club’s for isn’t it?

Planning and preparation

You’ll be wanting to light the pitch, car park and possibly the changing rooms. So ask a lighting engineer to help with the planning of the floodlights and columns. Most major lighting firms offer advice. Floodlights are normally mounted as high as possible to ensure optimum performance at the lowest installation cost. The choice of support, whether stand roof, columns or masts, will be influenced by site conditions, access for maintenance and the sport(s) involved. Columns, which can be lowered to the ground by means of a hydraulic jack are popular for smaller schemes.

Contact your electrical contractor and discuss the cabling and installation of columns, floodlights, switching and control gear.

Check the legal requirements. Your local authority planning services will usually have views on planning issues and restricting obtrusive light, and will often refer to documents published by national lighting bodies, such as the Institution of Lighting Engineers’ guidance notes (

Detailed plans will have to be submitted and the lighting supplier can provide specific data to illustrate just what the obtrusive light contribution will be from your particular project.

Limiting obtrusive light

So far we have discussed the lighting on the playing area. But we also have to consider the effects this lighting might have on the surrounding environment. Sports lighting has been criticised because it uses high powered projectors, often mounted high up, and therefore visible from a great distance, and also because there is a lot of poor sports lighting still in use. This is usually the result of inefficient optics, allied to a lack of proper layout and set up.

So what do we do about obtrusive light?

• Use a professional lighting design service to develop a scheme, taking into account the need to restrict obtrusive light

• Select floodlights which do not give upward light when they are mounted in their normal configuration

• The lighting design should ensure a “cut- off” very near the boundary so that spillage (trespess) is minimal

• If possible select playing services of lower reflectance to minimise upward reflected light

• Light only to the required level, and no more

• Ensure the floodlights are installed and aimed as planned

• And, when the job is finished…maintain the system

photo07_3aWhen the Ventnor Tennis Club chose Thorn floodlighting for their playing courts on the Isle of Wight, they made a choice that helped them win a good lighting award. The award by the IW branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England celebrates the beauty of the night skies.

The Champion floodlights produce an even, full cut-off of the courts, which sit on a prominent road junction, and fully conform to Lawn Tennis Association standards.  Instead of having a ‘flat glass’ construction Champion’s front glass enclosure is inclined inside the floodlight. As a result illuminance and uniformity of floodlighting projects can be optimised without the need to tilt the floodlight, thus reducing obtrusive light.

The judges said when presenting the trophy “this is a model of the kind of lighting which complies fully with planning policies by illuminating exactly the area required without upwards or sideways spillage.”

Floodlights convert to rugby

At the other end of the scale is one the finest rugby stadiums in Europe, Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli. The £24million development is a joint venture between the Carmarthenshire County Council and the Rugby Club, and forms the centrepiece of a wider regeneration strategy for the area.

It’s along the main south stand that 40 Mundial floodlights have been installed by Whitehead Building Services.

Opposite a further 44 floodlights are mounted on two 26m high corner towers, which feature iconic semi-circular head frames to create a signature look.

By employing high colour rendering 2kW metal halide lamps the system is ideal for colour television transmissions; it also provides excellent spectator – and player viewing. Action is brilliantly visible, from one post to the other.

Concluding thoughts

Sports floodlighting encourages better performances, improves safety standards and lets the crowd see more of what it wants to see. Three good to review your lighting needs.

Thorn Lighting Ltd

Tel: 020 8732 9800

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