Product Reviews, Retail

Reviewed: Small sports floodlights 


Floodlighting stadiums for the world of televised sports may be glamorous but not many of us are lucky enough to have the opportunity. 

Instead, this review compares floodlights that you can use for small to medium size sports grounds. Typical applications are multi-use games areas, MUGAs, five-a-side pitches, twin tennis courts etc.  

It is important to realise that although sports floodlights can also be used for general area lighting such as car parks, an off-the-shelf, general purpose floodlight is almost certainly not suitable for sports lighting. 

The big difference is that sports floodlights need to have better optical control. The uniformity of illumination required on a sports pitch is often 60 – 70% whereas car parks and other open areas may only require 25%. Also, the optical system on a sports floodlight mustn’t produce any “hot spots” or bands of light. 

Similarly, sports pitches usually have much higher levels of illumination. It is not uncommon for a sports pitch to have ten times the illumination of a nearby car park used by the players. Any rear or upward spill light from the floodlight must therefore be severely restricted because there is so much more light being emitted. This can be done by having a tightly controlled optical system or using visors, hoods, baffles, beam-shaping lenses, louvres etc. These options are unlikely to be available on ordinary floodlights. The sports floodlights may also be required to minimise glare or intensity towards residential housing. 

Another consideration is the mounting height of the floodlights. Obviously, the higher the floodlight, the more it can be tilted downwards and this achieves greater horizontal illumination. This also produces less glare and less upward light. However, tall columns may not be visually acceptable especially because of their daytime appearance. Lower mounting heights are often more acceptable visually but often lead to more glare and upward light spill (because of the higher upward tilt of the floodlights). Low mounting heights also often produce more forward spill light. I.e. light spreads beyond the other side of the pitch. This is more common than you might think. 

Guidance on what illumination and uniformity is required can be found from national professional lighting bodies such as the Society of Light and Lighting, SLL, and Institution of Lighting Professionals, ILP and the IESNA. Often, the particular sport’s association will give recommendations on lighting.  

One aspect that is becoming more important nowadays is the colour temperature of the light source. A lot of sports lighting manufacturers supply floodlights which have a colour temperature, CCT, of around 5700K. However, many outdoor lighting experts and environmentalists recommend much Warmer CCTs of 4000K or less and some even recommend less than 3000K.

You may decide that environmental or ecological considerations should take preference over the achieving the absolutely lowest energy consumption. 

Abacus Lighting Vela

Abacus has been making floodlights for sports and rail applications for as long as I can remember and the Vela is one of their longstanding products. 

One of the main reasons is its versatility. The lumen output is available from approximately 20,000 – 65,000 lm, 200 – 600W. There are five beam spreads available from narrow to extra wide. It also has a decent size hood to block upward light and side visors as standard. 

A feature that you don’t often see and which can be useful is that the stirrup has a wide range of vertical movement so the floodlight itself can be mounted either under slung or over slung on the cross-arm. 

My one gripe is that it is only available as 5000K and CRI 70. However, Abacus does have Warmer CCTs on some of their other floodlights. 

****

CU Phosco Lighting FL 810

Whenever you are designing some serious floodlighting, you should always look at what CU Phosco Lighting has to offer. The company is renowned for its highly engineered floodlights with precision optics and the FL 810 is no exception. 

Interestingly, they tell me that for small sports areas, a streetlight fitted with a floodlighting optic is often a more economical choice. They have real-life case studies to support this view. 

In essence, the FL 810 can deliver up to 84,000 lm at 300 – 625W. There is a twin module version which, in effect, doubles these figures. 

What makes it particularly suitable for sports lighting is the tight beam control. It has full cut-off visors on both the sides and above. This means no upward light or lateral spill. As well as 4000, 5000, 5700K it is also available in environmentally friendly 3000K versions with colour rendering of CRI >70 or >80. 

The LED modules inside can be tilted in 5-degree intervals from 35 – 65. The floodlight, itself, can also be tilted on site. 

A great deal of attention has been given to cooling the LEDs and keeping them at their optimum temperature. As a result, the FL 810 will operate in temperatures from -30C to 50C so it can be used anywhere in the world no matter what the sport or application. 

*****

Disano Forum 

Disano’s sports lighting range tends towards the higher wattages and light output. However, the Forum with one LED module would suit many small to medium sports areas. 

The standard, single module, IP66, Forum is 256 W and emits a little over 32,400 lm. This version has a CCT of 4000K and CRI >70. For televised events, there is also a 5700K version with a CRI >90. Double and triple versions are available for larger sports areas. 

Symmetric beam versions range from 30 – 120 degrees but of more interest for sports applications are the asymmetric versions with 8 or 17 degree beams. The peak intensity is emitted at 50 degrees so you can use the Forum as a flat glass unit but you might want to tilt it upwards slightly and Disano offers a hood as an option so you can minimise upward light. 

Dimming is via DALI or 1-10V. 

***

Midstream Modus S 

Here is a new product from a newish company (founded 10 years ago). Midstream started in the aviation sector lighting areas such as airport aprons and, more recently, introduced a sports lighting range. 

The Modus S is the smallest at 1,100 W and 140,000 lm. However, it is dimmable with 0-10V, DALI and DMX and has lots of interesting features that make it suitable for small to medium sports areas where you want high levels of illumination. 

The peak intensity is emitted at 60 degrees with a very sharp “run back” so you can use it as a flat glass unit or tilted upwards for extra throw. What I particularly like is the hood and side visors. These have a hammered aluminium insert. This both breaks up images of the individual LEDs and also increases the efficiency in terms of LOR, Light Output Ratio. 

Another interesting feature is that the luminaire body, bracketry and visors are made of stainless steel. As you would expect, the LED heat sink is made of heavily finned, low copper content, aluminium. 

For commercial and industrial applications, 5000 and 5700K versions are available but in more residential or ecologically sensitive areas, 3000 and 4000K can be used. Colour rendering can be CRI 70, 80 or 90. 

****

Philips OptiVision LED gen 3 BVP517/527 

A review of sports lighting that didn’t include Philips wouldn’t be complete. They have floodlights for lighting televised Olympic stadiums all the way to a kick-about area or a local tennis club. 

The OptiVision range is aimed at small to medium size areas where you need high levels of illumination. Typical light output is 120,000 – 220,000 lm.  There are four symmetric beams and 14 asymmetric light distributions available. 

One of the best features about this floodlight is that you can have built-in louvres which reduce the amount of backlight to almost zero. This means that you can use it residential or ecologically sensitive areas where spill light is a particular issue. 

Another useful feature that it is available with integral control gear or remotely where it can be mounted up to 200m away. 

As you might expect from a Philips Lighting luminaire, the OptiVision has a high degree of connectivity and control. A neat feature which makes this floodlight different from the others is the “Service tag”. This is QR code on the floodlight which enables you to read installation instructions, part numbers, a trouble shooting guide etc. 

The LED light source is available with 3000, 4000 and 5700K CCT with a CRI > 70. 

*****

Siteco FL20

The FL20 is a wide range of floodlights from 27 – 953W, which approximates to 3,000 – 140,000 lm.  

What makes them ideal for sports lighting is the beam control and the range of light output. They are designed to be used as “flat glass” units. I.e. where the cover glass is horizontal rather than tilted. For maximum light on the sports area, the FL20 can be tilted at up to 15 degrees without any light being emitted upwards.  

For sports areas which are used frequently and/or long periods of time, the FL20 has very low lumen depreciation. Siteco claims L98 at 50,000 hrs and L97 for 100,000 hrs. 

Another useful feature is that, for the largest model, there is a loss-free back light control reflector. Where you want absolutely zero rearward light, Siteco offers a black inner shield but this has a small loss of efficiency. However, the Maxi size FL20 may be too large for a small sports pitch. 

****

Schreder Indu Flood gen 2

The range comprises three sizes from approximately 4,000 lm and 31W to 60,000 lm and 375W. I have included the Indu because Schreder has a strong reputation for outdoor lighting, especially road and tunnels. 

Three symmetrical and four asymmetrical beams are available, several of which would be particularly suited to sports applications.  The LEDs have the option of 3000 and 4000K with CRI >70. 

Despite being a budget range floodlight, it solidly constructed, IP66, with IK09 impact resistance and 10kV surge protection. The only downside is the lack of cowls or visors so it is better suited to application where there is less need for tight optical control. 

***

Thorn Lighting LED Champion 

This has to be one of the best in terms of tight beam control and minimising spill light. It is designed as a “flat glass, no tilt” unit and so there is no upward light. In fact, the toughened glass inside is tilted at 21 degrees so that the peak intensity strikes the glass at the optimum angle for maximum light transmission. A big advantage of the Champion is that there is the option of having the peak beam at 65 degrees from straight down and this means that you can illuminate much wider areas without having to tilt the floodlight upwards. 

The top cowl and side visors can be supplied in matt dark grey or with a highly reflective polished finish. 

The LED light source is available with CRI of 70, 80 or 90 and colour temperatures of 3000, 4000, 5700K. A typical lumen output is 114,000 and 940W. Flicker at full output is < 1 percent. It is suitable for HDTV broadcasts and has a TLCI, Television Lighting Consistency Index, of 90+. 

The Champion would be suitable for all but the smallest of sports areas because it can easily be dimmed via DALI 2 and DMX RDM control. Stepped illumination levels are supported. 

*****