Taking the LED: What Are the Benefits of Switching Sports Lighting?

Cedric Collard - Schréder Sports Segment Manager
Cédric Collard
Business Segment Manager - Industry & Large area

There are two questions when it comes to renewing lighting for sports venues, especially at the grassroots level. The first is “Why now?” and the second is “Why LED?” In terms of timing, there’s a range of factors. Many countries are offering funding to clubs to improve their facilities, especially in the wake of the pandemic; new rules on light pollution mean grounds with outdoor lighting need to check they comply; and there’s increasing awareness of the benefits of saving energy for the planet, as well as club finances.

At Schréder, we’ve been lighting stadiums, pitches and pools for decades, so we can answer “Why LED?” Changes in recent years, including the development of new products, mean that LED solutions are now affordable and appropriate for sports clubs of every level, including recreational and casual teams. Let’s discuss how Schréder, the extra player on your team, can make LED lighting work for you.

A Word About Gas: The Story of Sports Lighting So Far 

Most sports facilities, especially outdoor ones, are lit with HID (High Intensity Discharge) lamps. The oldest type of electrical light, HID lamps work by sending an “arc” of electricity between two electrodes through ionised gas inside the bulb, which produces visible light (as well as infra-red heat). Once lit, the arc begins to evaporate metal salts inside the bulb, making it shine brighter and improving efficiency.

HID lamps make more visible light per unit of electric power consumed than fluorescent and incandescent lamps, which is why they’ve traditionally been used for floodlighting. But they also require a warm-up period, as the gas inside needs to heat up to reach full brightness, and the output of HID lighting can deteriorate by up to 70% over 10,000 burning hours. Eventually, like any lamp, the parts wear out and the bulb needs changing.

Until now, it usually made sense for sports clubs to just replace the lamps in their existing floodlights. But the new generation of modular LED products marks the beginning of a new era. Here are some reasons why switching makes sense.

Instant (Re)Play

In amateur and recreational sports, a lot of participants are coming from day jobs to train and play after work. That means every second counts and waiting for HID lights to warm up can be a waste of valuable time when playing after dark. Unlike HID lamps, LEDs have instant strike and re-strike times, so lighting is at full power and ready to play - just like you. Also, if the worst should happen, as it did at Superbowl in 2013, the lights will come straight back on at full power - phew!

LED sports lighting solutions offer multiple benefits to traditional HID floodlights

Light Your Sports Club, Not Your Neighbourhood

LEDs offer a great level of visual comfort, with white tones that are optimised for a sports environment. Over decades of lighting stadiums, we’ve honed our expertise in photometry, and all our floodlights have a range of symmetrical and asymmetrical light beam options. It’s pretty easy to light a pitch, but you don’t play the ground: lights need to show team members, the opposition, and the ball (or shuttlecock, or horse, or hoop...) as well.

On top of that, it’s important to get the right light in the right place, without spill. Not just for players, but for your area as well. Sports facilities in residential areas have to be extremely careful - as well as regulations on light pollution, nobody wants neighbours complaining.

Switzerland is known for the collegial nature of its towns and villages, and Avenches, in the Canton of Vaud, prides itself on providing high-quality sporting infrastructure for its residents. The town has a large multi-sport complex which is home to amateur football club FC Avenches. Their new lighting now meets the standards for the division above the one they currently play in, has reduced energy costs by almost 50%, and directs the light onto the pitch, unlike the previous installation. At 60 metres from the field, hardly any light can be seen.

Schréder sports lighting solutions reduce costs and light spill for Avenches while improving comfort

Likewise, the BMX Club in Blegny, Belgium, was keen to enable members to use their dirt track after dark, without muddying their relationship with the neighbours. After a feasibility analysis, the Schréder team recommended four OMNISTAR floodlights fitted with cold white LEDs, managed by the Schréder ITERRA control system. This gives a perfect level of lighting for riders to see the undulating terrain and tricky obstacles on the course, along with optics that direct the light perfectly onto the track, preventing any light pollution for the nearby residents.

Save Time, Energy and Money

Over the years we’ve seen many venues hold off on switching to LED because of the cost. So we turned our expertise to creating a modular system which means clubs from the top flight to grassroots level can afford to switch to LEDs next time they’re considering re-lamping their existing HID floodlights. It’s a way to save energy on lighting, while you burn it on the pitch. We call this system the ECOBLAST. Together with our existing sports lighting products, such as OMNIBLAST and OMNISTAR, we offer a whole suite of solutions to change your game for good.

Switching to LEDs saves energy in three main ways. Firstly, the actual LED fittings consume less energy than the equivalent HID lamps. Secondly, equivalent illumination can be provided with fewer light sources. And thirdly, with no warm-up times and easy control via a smartphone app, you only use the lights when you need them. In addition, maintenance costs are lower, because the control unit is mounted remotely (so no need to shut the pitch or climb poles for access) and the lifetime of LEDs is considerably longer than legacy lighting sources.

A Smart Substitution

Schréder has a history of firsts when lighting sports venues, including arenas, indoor sports halls and swimming pools. We equipped the first stadium in Eastern Europe to be lit exclusively by LED technology, we were the first to create an interactive luminaire that enabled Wi-Fi connectivity, and reduced energy consumption by 67% at the pool in Ans, Belgium, while enabling swimmers to enjoy the water until 10pm most nights - a first for the city.

A smart ans sustainable sports lighting solution saves ans swimming pool nearly 70% energy consumption while extending opening hours

We want our next first to be affordable LED lighting for sports clubs at every level. So, the next time you’re considering changing the lamps in your existing lighting, have a look at whether it’s time to give your game (and finances) a boost with a new LED lighting system. Our experts will draw up a bespoke solution, aim everything correctly on-site and provide training to ensure you get the most out of the system, to help you perform, play and win.

About the writer
Cédric joined Schréder in 2013 with a solid experience in marketing. With his expertise and industry knowledge, Cédric leads the Industry and Large Area Business segments including Sport Lighting and Breeam certification. He collaborates with our research, product development, sales teams worldwide and sport associations to deliver sustainable and energy efficient lighting solutions, tailored to each individual project using the latest in lighting calculation software, lighting management systems and BIM techniques.

Connect with Cédric on LinkedIn