Three ways to light a sports hall

 When a sportsperson misses a shot, it’s not uncommon for them to blame glare. But if they make the shot and win the game, they rarely give credit for the victory to the clear and balanced lighting.

Large sports halls have to accommodate a range of activities. The lighting designer’s scheme must provide sufficient illuminance and uniformity for all the intended activities and sports, limiting glare and controlling the contrast in the field of view. It can’t be energy hungry because sports halls are used for long hours. Lamp life is also a consideration because the luminaires are mounted high, often more than eight metres.

The standard of play is important – most guidance recognises three categories: general sport and recreation without spectators (Class III), higher level training and local events with spectators (Class II) and national or international events (Class III). Most local authority and private facilities cater for Class II or III.

Recommendations and guidance for most sports lighting can be found in the SLL’s Lighting Guide 4. Sport England also provides general guidance. Guidance on particular sports can be obtained from the relevant professional bodies.

The hall used in the following three examples is 34 x 27m. It is illuminated to Lighting Class III which, for badminton, is 300 lx. Due to the vaulted roof, the luminaires have all been mounted at 8m. All options provide between 330 and 370lx with a vertical illumination between 230 and 250 lx.

Here we’ve used a top-of-the-range metal halide high bay. The lower section of the reflector is faceted so it breaks up any direct image of the lamp. The upper section is prismatic polycarbonate which directs light on to the ceiling.

This has the big advantage of making the sports hall appear light and airy. It also boosts the illumination at high levels on the walls and makes it easier to track balls in flight.

One thing that sets sports halls apart from other indoor spaces is the importance of lighting high. Balls and shuttlecocks can reach six metres or more, so illumination must reach as close to the ceiling as possible, with good lux levels and uniformity.

Tech Spec

Luminaire Series 5365 ROB with HIE 250W metal halide
Optical Faceted aluminium reflector with polycarbonate upper section
Arrangement 4 x 5
Luminaire efficacy 69 lm/Wcct
Electrical load 5.5kW
Typical cost for 20 units £7,250 

Pros Plenty of upward light, bright ceiling
Cons Shorter lamp life than T5 or LED

This option provides the highest levels of illumination for the lowest capital cost. Bright lighting is essential for the most demanding sports. Badminton and table tennis obviously require higher illumination and better uniformity than a slower moving sport with a large ball, such as football.

Trilux’s Actison fluorescent luminaire is specifically designed for sports hall lighting. There is a wide variety of lamp wattages in two, three and four-lamp versions. This means you can switch and dim them to suit the needs of the sports hall. T5 lamps are high frequency, so flicker on fast-moving objects is not an issue. A good solution using this unit is to illuminate the hall to 500 lx (for high standards of play) and then switch or dim to other levels as required. A protective wire guard is standard.

Tech Spec

Luminaire Actison 3 x 80W T5
Optical Semi-specular louvre
Arrangement 4 x 5
Luminaire efficacy 72 lm/Wcct
Electrical load 5kW
Typical cost for 20 units £5,250

Pros Highest illumination for lowest capital cost; a good all-round solution
Cons Higher electrical load than the option below

The Mirona is a square, high-output LED luminaire, designed for high areas and exhibition halls. The standard optical control uses lenses coupled with a square-cell specular louvre. Here we have used it with an optional prismatic cover lens that minimises glare and makes it suitable for sports halls.

Remember that players often have to look upwards, so avoid glare as much as possible. A useful tip is to use more luminaires, but with lower power ratings.

Although this option uses slightly more luminaires than the other options, the electrical load is about 30 per cent lower. This is because it has the highest delivered lumens per watt rating of the three options. Further energy savings can be made using Dali dimming. Replacing lamps in sports halls is always an issue because of the mounting height. Apart from the lower electrical load, the big advantage of this option is the long life of the LEDs.

Tech Spec

Luminaire Mirona LED 12,000 lm neutral white
Optical Cell louvre plus prismatic cover lens
Arrangement 5 x 5
Luminaire efficacy 86 lm/Wcct
Electrical load 3.3kW
Typical cost for 25 units £6,900

Pros Lowest energy consumption, long life and low maintenance
Cons Costs more than the option above


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