Of the many lighting-related questions that we are asked here at Midstream, one of the most common is whether we can guarantee the lighting levels that a system will provide. While the short answer to that question is “yes”, in this post we’ll explain why that’s the case – and why sports clubs can benefit from that promise.
What are lighting levels?
Lighting levels relate to the amount of illumination in a specific area, be that a room, an office, a stadium, or any other environment. Lighting levels are important because they provide a scale on which we can measure both the quantity and quality of light in a given space, which in turn helps us to understand factors like uniformity and visibility.
Lighting levels are typically measured and expressed in terms of “lux”. Technically, lux is a measure of the number of lumens per square meter – but getting into that level of detail isn’t necessary in most instances. Instead, the simplest way to think about it is that lux measures the amount of light that falls on a surface.
Therefore, the higher the lux, the more light there is and the better lit an area will be.
Should lighting levels vary in different environments?
Yes. Lux values that might be entirely appropriate in one space can be too much or too little in another. A well-designed solution will always take into account the specific nature of the space that is being lit, and provide a level of illumination that matches the needs of that environment.
Optimum lighting levels can actually vary significantly depending from location to location. While somewhere between 150 to 300 lux is suitable for most residential spaces, for instance, a retail store typically demands a level of illuminance between 500 and 1,000 lux. Specialist tasks in a manufacturing or scientific environment could require higher levels still.
Several factors play a role in determining what level of lighting is appropriate for a certain space. Some of the most important include:
- What tasks or activities the space will be used for.
- Architecture and layout.
- Environmental conditions.
- Energy efficiency or sustainability requirements.
- Regulations or standards.
The last of these is particularly important in sports, where most governing bodies now specify exact requirements for lighting at different levels of competition.
Why are lighting levels so important in Sports?
Lighting plays a critical role in modern sports, supporting everything from the fan experience to player safety. Not every sporting occasion is the same, of course. There is a gigantic gap between a local five-a-side match and the World Cup final. As a result, most sporting bodies also provide lighting recommendations and requirements that are tailored to different levels of play.
Often, these align with already well-defined standards; in UK athletics, for example, lighting levels are defined alongside the three different tiers of competition. A lighting system for a venue that only hosts local events needn’t go beyond 100 lux, for example, while a stadium that welcomes international competitors will require lights that can generate 500 lux and above.
There are a number of reasons that higher-tier locations require higher lighting levels, including:
- Performance – high-level sport requires speed, accuracy, and rapid decision-making. Good lighting ensures that the athletes taking part can perform to the best of their abilities.
- Safety – better lighting leads to greater visibility, which is essential for the minimisation of accidents and injuries. This is true at all levels, but particularly at professional level where the speed of play can be much faster.
- Visibility – the more prestigious the event, the larger the venue is likely to be. Fans may be seated much further away than they would be at a lower-tier venue, so good lighting ensures that they can see clearly.
- Broadcasting – when an event is being broadcast or live-streamed, the cameras used to capture the action need lighting to be at a certain level in order to function effectively.
What lighting level does my venue need to meet?
Specific requirements can vary considerably by sport, level, and location. The best place to start is usually with your local or regional governing body, which usually provides comprehensive guidance on lighting levels. That guidance can be standalone but is often included within wider documentation about health and safety requirements in stadiums and other venues.
Are lighting levels a recommendation or requirement?
Again, this can vary, with some sporting authorities simply offering advice, while others make specific levels a stipulation. Increasingly, most governing bodies are tending towards the latter, with clubs required to meet the minimum requirements in order to continue competing at the relevant level.
In England, for instance, the Football Association (FA) states that “clubs wishing to compete in FA competitions and in the National League System must achieve the required standard relevant to the level of competition
Requirements under the FA are actually relatively simple. While the organisation specifies lighting levels across seven different “ground grades”, the only true variation is at the very top. Grounds in Grades B-G must achieve average lighting levels of 180 lux (or 120 lux for existing systems), while lighting systems at Grade A – Conference level – grounds need to reach 250 lux.
Can you guarantee lighting levels?
Yes. In line with the requirements like those outlined by the FA, any lighting provider should be able to issue you with proof that the work they have carried out is guaranteed to deliver the levels required.
This is possible due to the scientific principles that go into the design of a lighting solution. When planning out a system, designers can create a highly accurate calculation of lighting levels based on the number of floodlights used and the output of each. This ensures that a solution will be fully compliant with any requirements before installation begins.
When required, lighting levels can then be confirmed by an independent verification body.
How do I guarantee my own lighting levels?
In most instances, the best course of action is to work with a lighting provider that is accredited or endorsed by the governing body of your specific sport. This ensures that you are working with a company that has been vetted and approved by the organisation specifying the regulations.
Lighting levels are used to measure the quantity and quality of light in a defined space.