The Differences between LED Sports Lighting and LED Flood Lighting

The lighting needs of outdoor sports fields and facilities have led to the development of lighting products with different performance characteristics than luminaires designed for traditional outdoor spaces such as parking lots and building exteriors. Sports field lighting requirements have become so defined that lighting products are designed to illuminate sports fields and facilities. The Sports lighting projects require very specific lighting solutions. While it may be tempting to purchase less expensive “traditional” floodlights to light your sports fields, pitches and facilities, sports lights are well worth the initial investment for a number of reasons. General flood lighting is ideal for some applications, but traditional flood lighting fixtures rarely meet the lighting needs of outdoor sports facilities.

lighting comparison

Sports field lights are similar to traditional flood lights in that they both illuminate large outdoor areas. However, there are many differences in beam spread, lumen output, light quality and levels, surge protection, and wireless control capabilities.

First, we need to define outdoor sports field lighting and traditional flood lighting, because many times these words are often used together or interchangeably, when in fact, they are two completely different types of LED fixtures, which provide solutions for different problems.

Sports lighting and flood lighting definitions

What is Sports Lighting?

Outdoor LED sports lighting fixtures are outdoor LED lighting fixtures that are typically used to illuminate large areas for recreational or competitive sports such as baseball, soccer, soccer, tennis, basketball, etc. 

This type of outdoor lighting is often used by schools, colleges and universities, municipalities, amateur sports clubs and professional sports franchises.

What is a floodlight?

Flood lights are also used for exterior lighting and are usually mounted on utility poles or buildings to provide directional lighting for various areas. Traditional flood lights can be installed at various angles, distributing the light accordingly.

Flood lighting applications: Outdoor flood lights are used to provide illumination for larger areas to ensure the safety of vehicles and pedestrians. Floodlights are not intended to provide the light levels (foot candles) required for recreational competitive sports

LED sports lights are he most cost-effective, efficient and optimal way to provide the lighting you need for outdoor sports courts, courts and fields. the

LEDs range in wattage from 300 to 2000 and produce 50,000 to 200,000+ lumens, however, wattage and lumens alone are not enough. Field and stadium sports lights have several other performance characteristics to meet the specific lighting and product needs of field, field and stadium lighting.

Recognizable performance specifications that differentiate LED sports lighting products from LED flood lighting products include:

Difference in beam spread, Light quality and light levels, Lumen output, Surge protection, Wireless control capability.

beam spread difference

Sports Lighting Beam Spread

LED sports lighting fixtures typically include multiple fixtures mounted on individual poles, often with different beam patterns. Having multiple beam patterns on a single pole enables the luminaire to provide evenly distributed light across the entire playing surface, rather than the bright spots surrounded by dark areas produced with traditional flood luminaires.

The beam angle of an individual light fixture will vary depending on the pole height and the number of light fixtures per pole. The right combination of beam angles can make the lighting spread evenly across your space, but the wrong beam angles can cause crossing beams to blind players, disrupt matches and make players and spectators visually uncomfortable.

Finding the balance of optimum beam angles is important for lighting arenas and stadiums and should always be determined by the photometric layout of the venue or facility.

Because outdoor spot lights are mounted at an adjustable angle, the mounting angle affects how the beam spreads the projected light across the surface. The light distribution pattern is represented by two numbers, corresponding to the horizontal and vertical light distribution of the luminaire, and denoting two light planes with an intensity of at least 10% of the maximum luminous intensity of the luminaire.

flood light beam spread

Commercial LED floodlights are often the least expensive product option for outdoor lighting applications, however, the fixtures were not designed to produce the desired lighting effects for sports fields and facilities. One of the biggest problems is that the lighting can suffer from a severe lack of uniformity. There will be heavy shadows and glare between highlights, making it difficult for participants and spectators to see. the

Flood lights are usually manufactured with a “wide” or “very wide” beam spread to cover a large area and provide a safe level of illumination. The light levels required for pedestrian and vehicle safety are very different from those required for sports and entertainment (which can be difficult to find in parking lots at night).

A wider beam spread means that the light comes from smaller angles, which creates a light that becomes more diffuse (and less intense) as it moves away from the source. Flood lights typically have a beam spread of over 70 degrees and up to 130 degrees. Especially with floodlights, the installation angle must be looked at when discussing light patterns.

For floodlights, the adjustable installation of the floodlights results in a change in the light pattern on the ground. For example, a wide beam spread means that when the fixture is tilted “up”, the light will become more diffuse. Therefore, as the light moves away from the target surface, it spreads out and becomes less intense.

Light Quality and Light Levels

Lighting designers understand that the size and speed of an object can significantly affect an individual’s ability to locate/detect moving objects. Therefore, activities that use small objects moving at high speeds (eg, football, baseball, soccer, tennis) mean that it is more difficult to see the ball or other moving objects in low-light conditions than the participants. the

The Illuminating Engineering Society (IESNA) and other sports governing organizations such as the NCAA have developed stadium footcandle recommendations for different sports and recreational activities. The most famous recommendations are contained in IES RP-6-15 Lighting of Sports and Recreation Areas.

IES RP-6-15 Sports and Recreation Area Lighting provides foot-candle and uniformity recommendations for the design of sports lighting systems. The first factor in determining the appropriate light level is to determine the “race classification”, which is based on audience capacity:

Sports Lighting Lumen Output

LED stadium lights traditionally start at 65,000 lumens and can be increased to 162,000 lumens. Sports lighting for tennis and basketball courts typically uses fixtures in the 36,000-85,000 lumen output range. Lumen output combined with proper beam pattern provides optimal illumination and uniformity for players and spectators. the

Flood Lighting Lumen Output

Commercial flood lights typically produce 3,000 to 60,000 lumens, which is significantly lower than the standard lumen output of sports lights. the

surge protection

Surges are sudden current peaks in an electrical circuit that can cause enormous damage to all electrical equipment connected to that circuit. Even the toughest LED motion lights and LED flood lights can be affected by power surges. Surges can cause wires and components to overheat, melt and short out, all of which can damage components inside the LED.

Outdoor playground luminaires should have at least 20kV/10kA surge protection and meet ANSI C136.2-2015 Extreme, ANSI C82.77-5-2015 High Exposure, and IEEE C62.41.2 Location Category C High Exposure standards.

Higher surge protection applies to sports lights and flood lights. However, higher surge protection is more standard on sports lights for two reasons:

  1. Taller light poles increase the risk of lightning strikes, and because they are mounted so high, the cost (labor-wise) to replace light fixtures is much higher. Therefore, you need to reduce the chances of your fixtures failing.
  2. Powerful surge protection is more expensive, and standard floodlight installations usually don’t offer this feature.

Wireless Control Capability

One of the benefits when you choose to buy sports lighting is that wireless control capabilities are often standard. Weatherproof wireless control lets you control lighting in multiple zones and locations. LED sports lights often feature an instant-on feature so venues can instantly adjust lighting between halftime, shows or sporting events. the

Standard floodlights don’t usually offer this feature, which means you have to buy and install a complete system of control equipment to have the same functionality as sports lighting. Incorporating such a control device is expensive, so we recommend skipping this headache and buying sports-specific lights that come standard with wireless controls.

final thoughts

Deciding between standard or LED flood lights and LED motion lights, we can help you decide if LED motion lights are worth the investment for your organization. The Sports lighting is complex, and different combinations of power, lumen output, and beam angle can produce wildly different results. Every sport is unique, which is why the right lighting solution is crucial.

For more information, please contact us.


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