8 tips for schools and sports clubs to save money on sports lighting projects
There’s nothing like playing your favorite sport under the lights. The sounds of the crowd seem louder, every play, pass, and decision seems more significant. For athletes of any age or skill level, the feeling of playing on a well-lit sports field is unmatched.
But installing sports lighting is a significant investment. We all know that schools, colleges, sports clubs, and city councils work on a tight budget. Money is tight. So finding an affordable solution is critical to a successful sports lighting project.
Luckily, with a bit of planning and due diligence, you can save money and provide the experience of a lifetime to your teams. We’ve put together eight tips on how to save money on sports lighting projects.
Let’s dive in.
If you are short on time, you can also use our LED sports field lighting cost calculator to get an instant project cost estimate for your decision-making.
What Determines the Price of Sports Lighting?
Before you can save money, you need to understand what goes into pricing sports lighting equipment. Arming yourself with the proper knowledge will help you assess pricing when searching for your solution.
While there are myriad factors that determine the numbers on the price tag, we’ll narrow it down to several key concepts:
- The size of the field and the level of competition
Lighting a Little League field will be a bit easier (and more affordable) than lighting a collegiate football stadium. Both the field area and the type of athletics play a part in the final cost.
- Is it a new installation, or are you replacing old lamps?
For instance, if you are retrofitting existing lamps with modern technology – like LED bulbs – the price may differ from installing brand new fixtures.
- The height of your lighting fixtures
In general, taller will probably mean a higher price tag. More materials and more equipment for installation will add to your final cost.
- Origin of the light fixtures
The source of your sports lighting fixtures is essential in determining your costs. A fixture made in the United States may be more expensive than those from Asian countries. Shop around, and find the best fit for your budget.
- The source of light
There is a multitude of options when shopping for sports lighting equipment. But the most common types are:
- Metal Halide (MH)
- High-Pressure Sodium (HPS)
- High-Intensity Discharge (HID)
- Light-emitting Diode (LED)
Now that we have a baseline for understanding cost let’s talk about how you can save.
How to save money on sports lighting projects
At first, choosing the right lights for your sports venue might seem complicated.
But don’t worry.
Once you have a firm grasp of your sports lighting needs, it becomes much easier to navigate the available options. You’ll more easily find the solution that fits your sports facility best.
Here are a few general tips on how to save money on LED sports lighting projects:
1. Choose LED when installing a new lighting system.
We’ll be honest. The upfront costs of installing LEDs at your sports field may be a bit higher than other options. However, the long-term cost benefits of LEDs will provide your organization with a tremendous return on investment.
2. Hire a professional light designer.
It’s not an easy task to illuminate a stadium. Hundreds of powerful floodlights, all pointing in different directions? Things can get complicated very quickly.
By bringing in an expert versed in the intricacies of sports field lighting, you won’t waste money on lights you don’t need.
Your expert will ensure you have the right amount of light for your venue by running a photometric study. With tools like DIALux or Relux, the designer can pinpoint the number of fixtures and wattage you need to provide uniform lighting across the entire playing field. Every player will feel like they’re in the big leagues!
3. Keep existing infrastructure – if you can.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. If you have existing fixtures, look into upgrading them before tearing them down. Any equipment you can keep – wiring, poles, fixtures – will be a massive advantage for your budget.
Best case scenario? You can keep everything and upgrade to LED lights!
4. Use shorter poles to reduce light loss.
Light weakens the further it carries through the air. Think about your flashlight. The beam of light is much brighter when aimed at your hand than pointed into the distance.
By reducing the distance your light needs to travel, you can purchase less powerful amps. They are cheaper to buy and less costly to run.
Protip: Always consult an expert before purchasing your poles. The last thing you want is to have to re-order after finding out they’re too short.
5. Make a case for discounted pricing.
Don’t be afraid to shop around. When planning your purchases, make a shortlist of vendors and compare quotes. Especially when lighting a large field, you’ll be buying many fixtures. Most suppliers will offer a discount when you reach a certain threshold. Every dollar counts – so ask!
6. Hire local, shop global
As with most electronics, the prices of lighting equipment are much higher in the US than in China or Vietnam.
Find a local partner that you trust and source your equipment from overseas. You’ll get the benefit of working with someone close by while enjoying the prices of foreign manufacturing.
Be sure to vet both your contractor and supplier:
- Do they have the right experience and certifications to complete the job successfully?
- Does the vendor have a good reputation, or are they known for scamming customers?
Lastly, make sure you factor in all the sourcing costs from overseas. When buying abroad, ocean freight, taxes, and customs will all come into play (and they can add up!)
7. Purchase second-hand when you can
We know how intimidating the price can be for new lighting equipment. When searching for suppliers, don’t forget to look for used fixtures and parts.
Buying second-hand can cut your costs by 50%.
While the cost savings are attractive, be aware that this method can lead to problems. Used fixtures are not customized for your specific needs. However, with a professional lighting design and photometric study, you can mitigate the risks and reap the benefits of a lower price tag.
8. Search for energy grants, rebates and incentives
When you purchase or upgrade your sports venue lighting to LEDs, you choose a more sustainable solution.
The Federal Government incentivizes this decision by offering rebates and tax deductions. Take a look at Section 179D in the Federal Tax Code. This reduction pays $.60 per square foot for a qualified building that reduces its energy usage by 25%. Read more in our sports facility grants & funding section.
Be sure to ask your accountant or tax advisor to research Section 179D.
And suppose you’re lucky enough to qualify. In that case, you’ll need to bring in a Professional Engineer to sign off on the necessary documentation to maximize your rebate.
Get an Estimate for Your Sports Lighting Project Early
Now that you know some of the most reliable ways to save on your lighting project – it’s time to start planning!
Getting an estimate for your project at an early stage is crucial to maximizing your savings. When you know the precise equipment you need, searching for deals and methods for reducing costs is much easier.
Our team has designed an easy-to-use sports lighting cost calculator to help you get started on your journey. Just choose the type of field you need to light, and we’ll do the rest. Once you have your estimate, you’ll be one step closer to lighting up your field and delighting your teams and fans on game night.
You can also jump to our sports field lighting section to learn more about the benefits, funding, and costs of LED sports lights.