LED softball field lighting systems: Layout, standards and cost considerations
To the untrained eye, softball and baseball may look like two very similar sports. One has overhand pitching and one does it underhand, but otherwise same number of players, same equipment, same diamond-shaped field.
And from the perspective of lighting system design, it’s the diamond that makes the difference. The size of the diamond and the distances between the key points on the field influence the design and cost of the softball field lighting system.
Table of Contents
Softball field lighting layout
The size of a softball field varies depending on the competition level and the age of the players, but the standard dimensions follow the specifications of a little league baseball field. The distance between bases is 60 feet and the pitcher stands 43 feet from home plate, with the outfield fence around 200 feet from home plate.
The main reasons softball fields are smaller than baseball fields are the size and weight of the ball. The ball used in softball is bigger, softer, and heavier, which means the ball travels a shorter distance and has less velocity compared to a baseball.
Position of the floodlights
Softball diamonds are typically lit with four or six floodlights, with the deciding factor being the dimensions of the field. If you are planning to install lighting for a small softball field (distance to outfield fence up to 250 feet), then a 4-pole floodlight layout will most likely work. If the outfield fence is up to 300 feet from home, six floodlight poles become a better option.
Most of the action – and certainly the quickest action – takes place in the infield, so softball fields should place floodlights on either side of home plate. These lights need to have the right combination of placement and orientation to ensure uniform lighting on the infield.
The third and fourth light poles, then, go by the left and right foul poles. They, too, need to be situated correctly, towards centerfield, so the light beams cross at the right point and the outfielders have sufficient lighting even when they have to run just outside the foul line.
Professional sports field lighting installers will take care of the necessary calculations to plan things correctly.
If your softball field needs two more lighting poles, they line up roughly with 1st base and 3rd base. Because the larger diamond adds the extra space in the outfield, two lights face away from home plate. Additionally, in this setup, the floodlights that would otherwise be located by the foul poles are moved in towards the left-center field and right-center field.
Light pole height
There are no set rules for how high the light poles need to be. Typically, a small softball field uses 40-50 feet tall light poles. On a larger field, you might want to go for a range of 50-60 feet.
The most important thing is to install the LED lights high enough so the players on the field will not get blinded by the lights: especially when the pitches are coming in at 70+ miles per hour!
The correct height of the lighting fixtures also enables a more pleasant experience for the spectators and prevents light from spilling outside of the ballpark. Light spillage is especially important if your softball field is located close to residential buildings.
Why you should go for LED sports lights
Softball ballparks traditionally have used metal halide or halogen floodlights to light up the playing field. Today, more and more diamonds and other sports facilities are using LED sports lighting systems.
LED lighting quickly overcomes the higher upfront cost of installation through huge savings in operating costs and reduced maintenance over a lifespan of up to 11 years. LED lights do not flicker, have less glare, and can be controlled easily with a mobile app. You can adjust the brightness with a flick of a button or dim some of the floodlights when they are not needed, thus reducing running costs even more.
In the LED wattage conversion table below you can see how much less power LED lights need to reach the same lumen output as a halide lamp. Fewer watts going into your lights means fewer dollars going to the electrical utility.
In the next chapter, we explain what the right lighting level for your ballpark is.
LED lighting conversion table
|Metal Halide wattage||HPS wattage||LED wattage||Average lumen output|
Softball field lighting standards
The lighting level of a softball field depends mostly on the competition level and the size of the ballpark. In the below table is the recommended luminance for different levels of play.
Lux and lumen are closely related and can be easily confused. Lux is equal to the amount of light measured at a given spot. For us, that means how much light reaches the surface of a playing field. Lumen, on the other hand, tells you how much light is emitted from the LED lights in the first place. 1 lux equals 1 lumen per square meter. This is good to know when calculating the total amount of lumens you need to produce to light your softball diamond properly.
How many lumens do I need to light up my ballpark?
The area of a softball field is between 4,000 and 10,000 square meters, depending on the level of competition. If we use the median value, 7,000 square meters, then a professional softball field needs a total of 7,000,000 lumens to cover the whole playing surface. A high school field of the same size would need only 2,100,000 – 3,500,000 lumens.
How many LED lights do I need for my softball field?
The brightness of LED floodlights used at stadiums starts at 60,000 lumens, with the average brightness being around 150,000 lumens. This means your high school softball field would need 14-24 lighting fixtures to illuminate the whole playing field according to recommended lighting standards. Use our sports field lighting cost calculator to get an estimate of the total cost.
Softball Field Lighting: classification of play
|Sports Facility||Class I||Class II||Class III||Class IV|
100 fc. / 1,000 lux.
50 fc. / 500 lux.
30 fc. / 300 lux.
20 fc. / 200 lux.
How much does softball field lighting cost?
After taking into account all the layout and design considerations of your diamond, we arrive – possibly – at the most interesting part of the article: the total lifespan costs of a lighting system for a softball field.
Depending on the size and competition level of the ballpark, installation costs will be between $135,000 – $350,000.
This range includes the cost of site preparation work (excavation, cabling, etc) that may need to be done beforehand. Second, they include the labor costs of putting up the light poles and then installing and wiring the LED lights. Finally, we also have to account for the cost of hours spent on creating and executing the design: calculating the system’s requirements and then aligning the installed lights to ensure everything works as planned. There are multiple grants and incentives available at the federal, state, and local levels to help you fund the installation of a new LED lighting system.
Conversion to LED
When upgrading from metal halide or HPS lighting systems to LED lights, you will not need to do as much prep work during the installation phase. Therefore, you won’t need to take into account the hours and money on installing the foundations for the light poles and the conduits for the electrical system. You can probably even use the same light poles, which further reduces the cost of conversion to LED lighting. The most important decision to make is whether to install completely new LED lighting fixtures or only switch the lamps to LED by retrofitting.
To get a more precise estimate using your project specs, try our baseball/softball lighting cost calculator.
Operation and maintenance costs
Once the installation is done and the lights are on, you can sigh in relief and pat yourself on the back. From there onwards, all you will have to calculate is the amount of money you save over the next 100,000 hours of enjoying a well-lit softball field! LED sports lighting systems require very little maintenance thanks to the long lifespan and durable engineering of the units. You can forget about all the hassle with changing light bulbs and the related labor costs.
Softball lighting companies
There are hundreds of professional lighting companies that can help you with your softball lighting project. The difficult part is to know which ones to talk to. Prices can vary for many reasons, and it’s hard to know who the real experts are and who has the customer’s best interests in mind.
Sports Venue Calculator works with the top companies in the US sports lighting industry and, as an independent advisor, we are happy to connect you with our partners. Your first step is to go to our baseball/softball field lighting cost calculator, answer a few simple questions about your project and get an initial project cost estimate. From there, our partners will take over and provide you with more detailed information about the specs of the project.