If there are still doubts about the long-term impact of the LED lighting revolution, the upcoming Super Bowl should eliminate the skeptics. It's one thing to put an LED bulb in a table lamp. But use them to light a massive football stadium?
It is true. Every second of the most watched sporting event in America will be under new LED sports light fixtures recently installed in the U. of Phoenix Stadium. By all accounts the fans watching in the stadium and at home on HDTV will be able to see the game as never before.
Manufactured by Ephesus Lighting of Syracuse, New York, the powerful LED flood lights atop the stadium replace the previous fixtures using metal halide lamps. According to Ephesus, fewer LED flood fixtures were required to achieve a fuller illumination than before, with the added benefit of more even light and fewer shadows in the stadium.
While the LED system produces increased light on the field with fewer fixtures, the big payoff for the owners, who write the check for the utility bill, is the energy savings. The previous metal halide lighting system at Phoenix Stadium used a whopping 1.24 million watts. The switch to LEDs reduced the energy requirement to just over 300 thousand watts, a 75 percent reduction.
In addition, LEDs are an instant-on technology; they don't require the warm-up time of metal halide. Fans remember the power outage at the Superdome in New Orleans two years ago during the Super Bowl. Once power was restored, there was nearly a half hour wait for the metal halide lamps to return to full light output. That won't happen with LED.
(So if one of your Super Bowl prop bets includes the lights going out, as they did for 34 minutes in Super Bowl XLVII, you should bet on them staying on throughout the game.)
The Ephesus installation also includes wired DMX controls on each fixture to interface with the master control system. This means instant, one-touch control to switch between different light settings.
It also means special effects.
The producers aren't saying, but watch for LED lighting effects to be a big part of the Super Bowl halftime show.
Smaller Arenas Can Also Benefit
While a massive, integrated system is necessary for a spectacle like the Super Bowl, smaller sports fields and stadiums can also benefit from switching to LED. There are now several inexpensive types of LED sports lighting fixtures that have been developed for local schools and private fields. While smaller in size and more limited in features, they provide the excellent energy savings of LED compared to metal halide, as well as the reduced maintenance time and costs of servicing the older fixture types.