Speed. Agility. Accuracy. Three qualities that go a huge way to dictating a netball team’s success, and all things that can very quickly be undermined by poor court lighting. No matter how good a player may be, after all, if they can’t see their next pass clearly then all that talent will be quickly undermined.
LED lighting is becoming an increasingly popular choice in both netball and sport as a whole. At the same time, LED is still a relatively new technology compared to some alternatives – which means that most clubs want to know more about it before making the switch.
With that in mind, we caught up with Patrick Daly – National Sales Manager at Midstream – to find out more about what high-quality LED lighting can do for netball clubs.
- What benefits does LED lighting offer in comparison to older systems?
Naturally, the answer to that question is going to change a little depending on exactly how old an existing system is. Even if a system has been installed relatively recently, if it uses outdated lighting technology like metal halide lamps then there are some really good reasons to consider switching to LEDs.
One of the most compelling is cost. LED systems are typically significantly cheaper to run than older equivalents, which is a key consideration for netball clubs who tend to have their lights on for long periods of time. Linked to that, LED-based luminaires have an extensive lifespan – particularly when compared to metal halide equivalents.
From a performance standpoint, there’s also the fact that LED lighting offers high uniformity and can deliver better quality lighting than other systems, even when using fewer luminaires. LEDs are also more energy efficient – making them better for the environment – they switch on instantly, and take up less space than other systems. The list goes on.
Finally, LEDs are dimmable, which is particularly useful for clubs that want to run training sessions at lower Lux levels.
- Are LED-based systems expensive? Can we afford to switch?
There are two ways of thinking about the cost of an LED system. One is the initial outlay, which is obviously dependent on things like court setup, the area that needs to be lit, and specific lighting requirements based on the standard of competition that’s going to be hosted at the venue. So that’s a specific cost, and one that varies from club to club.
The other – and arguably better – way of thinking about the cost of LEDs is in terms of the cumulative savings they deliver. As mentioned, LED systems are much more cost-effective than the alternatives. That was important before, but with the recent increases in energy prices, finding ways to lower running costs has become a major priority for most netball clubs.
I’ve heard from one of our contacts at England Netball that some clubs are now seeing lighting costs as high as £0.5/kWh, which obviously has a huge impact when you add it all up. With LEDs capable of dramatically reducing power consumption, the initial cost of making the switch can actually turn into a long-term saving very quickly.
- What are the recommended lighting levels for netball?
Like most sports, there’s some degree of variation when it comes to the lighting requirements for different netball courts. The main factors at play here are whether the court is an indoor or outdoor one, and what it’s going to be used for.
“England Netball uses the four categories of Facility Classification as outlined by Sport England – Community, Club, Premier, and International – and their website includes an excellent guide to the specific lighting requirements at each of those tiers.
As a general overview, lighting uniformity levels remain the same across all four, at ≥ 0.7. Lux levels differ, ranging from 200/300 for outdoor/indoor community clubs respectively, all the way up to 750 for indoor premier courts. Indoor and outdoor club court requirements vary from 200 to 500 Lux depending on how they’re being used.
Away from lighting levels, there’s also the layout to consider. In netball, we usually advise on between four and six lighting columns that range from 6-12m in height.
- Do LED lights need a lot of maintenance?
No, and particularly not in comparison to older systems that have parts of the luminaire exposed to the elements. One of the biggest advantages of the way that LEDs are manufactured is that they’re sealed units, so can generally be cleaned quickly and easily – particularly when base-hinged masts that allow easy lowering are used.
This is one of the other key benefits that LED systems offer in comparison to outdated alternatives. We hear a lot of stories from clubs that are struggling with the cost of maintaining ageing systems, with repairs and replacements quickly stacking up. LEDs are long-lasting and reliable, so don’t come with that burden.
Normally, just some simple cleaning every year is all that’s needed to keep your LEDs in top condition. It’s worth finding a manufacturer that offers a long-term warranty for extra peace of mind.
- Do LED lights switch on instantly?
If you’ve ever turned up to training or a match 30 minutes early just to get the lights warmed up, then you’ll be pleased to know that the answer to this one is ‘yes’. LEDs light up the moment you hit the power button, and that has more advantages than just reducing the amount of time you need to wait before getting a game started.
For one, instant switch-on means that you’re wasting less energy and money. You also have the flexibility to switch lights on and off as you please, allowing you to hold short training sessions or a series of matches with no interruptions in between.