Metal halide to LED conversion guide for sports fields and courts

1000 1500 watt metal halide to led conversion

In the past few years, sports lighting technology has made incredible strides. For decades, the go-to choice for sports facilities of every level, sport, and size opted for metal halide. Metal halide systems were used for their power output and cost. However, with the advent and advancement of LED technology, sports facilities – especially ones that host a full-sized football, soccer, or baseball field – now have an even bigger incentive for a metal halide to LED conversion.

Many sports facilities are now choosing LED sports lighting solutions as the replacement for their outdated metal halide fixtures. LED lighting provides an energy efficiency factor, as well as a reduction in maintenance cost and improved lumen performance.

But if you’re thinking you need to replace your entire lighting system – don’t worry. Many facilities are opting for a 1000 or 1500-watt metal halide to LED retrofit. For most, it’s an efficient process, but there are a few crucial considerations. In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know to set your conversion project up for success.

If you are in a hurry and just want to know how much it would cost to convert your metal halide sports lighting system to LED, try our sports lighting retrofit cost calculator to get a customized cost breakdown.

Metal halide to LED conversion chart for sports lighters

Because of their high-efficiency output, you need much less power when converting to LEDs. In fact, when compared to a 1000 – 1500-watt metal halide lamp, your LEDs will need between 50 – 75% less energy. The long-term cost savings are incredible and they’re one of the main reasons why so many sports organizations are making the switch. 

Take a look at the metal halide to LED conversion chart below to see what would be the appropriate wattage for your 1000 or 1500-watt LED replacement fixtures. 

Metal Halide Sports Lighter LED Sports Lighter Equivalent Energy savings
400 W
150 W
750 W
250 W
1000 W
300 W
1500 W
450 W
2000 W
600 W

When you’re selecting an LED sports light to replace a metal halide lamp, you need to consider several factors:

  • Lumens (total output)
  • Color temperature (warmth or coolness in color)
  • Beam angle

As you are shopping for your new lights, it’s important to consider the size of your space and the type of lighting you need. If you’re trying to light a football field, your beam angle should be wide enough to spread the illumination evenly across the entire space. If you’re working with a smaller, more contained area, like a tennis court, then you can use narrower beam angles that will concentrate the light only where it’s needed.

There are many options available, but finding the right one takes a bit of research and guidance. An experienced sports lighting pro will help you select the perfect LED light for your application, taking into account both your budget and lighting needs.

400-watt metal halide to LED conversion

400-watt metal halide sports lighters can typically be found at smaller sports courts such as tennis courts, pickleball courts, badminton courts, or volleyball courts. 

How many lumens are needed to light up your court? 

The amount of light needed to light up your court depends on the court size and the lighting level requirement (footcandles) for your competition level (class 1 = 75fc, class 2 = 50fc, class 3= 20fc):

  • Tennis court: 2106 sq ft x 20/50/75 fc =  42,120 / 105,300 / 157,950 lumens
  • Pickleball court: 880 sq ft x 20/50/75 fc = 17,600 / 44,000 / 66,000 lumens
  • Badminton court: 880 sq ft x 20/50/100 fc = 17,600 / 44,000 /  88,000 lumens
  • Volleyball court: 1,743 sq ft x 20/50/75 fc = 34,860 / 87,150 / 130,725 lumens

What kind of LED fixtures can replace existing 400-watt metal halide fixtures?

LED sports lighting fixtures can put out around 130 lumens per watt:

  • Tennis court:
    • Class I: 
      • Total lumens needed: 157,950
      • Wattage needed: 1215w (130 LPW)
      • 6 x 200w – 250w LED fixtures
    • Class II:
      • Total lumens needed: 105,300
      • Wattage needed: 810w (130 LPW)
      • 4 x 200w – 250w LED fixtures)
    • Class III:
      • Total lumens needed: 42,120
      • Wattage needed: 324w (130 LPW)
      • 4 x 100w – 150w LED fixtures
  • Pickleball court: 
    • Class I: 
      • Total lumens needed: 66,000
      • Wattage needed: 508w (130 LPW)
      • 4 x 200w LED fixtures
    • Class II:
      • Total lumens needed: 44,000
      • Wattage needed: 338w (130 LPW)
      • 4 x 150w LED fixtures
    • Class III:
      • Total lumens needed: 17,600
      • Wattage needed: 135w (130 LPW)
      • 2 x 100w LED fixtures
  • Badminton court:
    • Class I:
      • Total lumens needed: 88,000
      • Wattage needed: 677w
      • 4 x 200w LED fixtures
    • Class II:
      • Total lumens needed: 44,000
      • Wattage needed: 338w
      • 2 x 200w LED fixtures
    • Class III:
      • Total lumens needed: 17,600
      • Wattage needed: 135w
      • 2 x 100w LED fixtures
  • Volleyball court:
    • Class I:
      • Total lumens needed: 130,725
      • Wattage needed: 1005w
      • 4 x 250w LED fixtures
    • Class II:
      • Total lumens: 87,150
      • Wattage needed: 670w
      • 4 x 200w LED fixtures
    • Class III:
      • Total lumens needed: 34,860
      • Wattage needed: 268w
      • 2 x 150w LED fixtures

1000-watt metal halide to LED conversion

1000-watt metal halide lamps are very common at high school or college gymnasiums and basketball courts. The total area of a basketball court is around 4520 square feet, which is considerably larger than the smaller courts we discussed above. The larger total area requires more potent lighting fixtures. 

The total output depends, again, on the competition level of the main users of the court. For recreational use 20 footcandles are enough (class I), for high school gyms that accommodate up to 5.000 spectators a minimum of 50 footcandles is needed. At college and professional levels that have to take TV broadcasting into consideration, at least 75 footcandles are required. 

  • Class I:
    • Total lumens needed: 339,000
    • Wattage needed: 2607w
    • 6 x 450w LED fixtures (130 lumens per watt, LPW)
  • Class II:
    • Total lumens needed: 226,000
    • Wattage needed: 1738w
    • 6 x 300w LED fixtures (130 LPW)
  • Class III:
    • Total lumens needed: 90,400
    • Wattage needed: 695w
    • 4 x 200w LED fixtures (130 LPW)

1500-2000-watt metal halide to LED conversion

1500 – 2000-watt sports lighters are used almost exclusively at stadiums, sports fields, and large sports arenas. Considering you can save around 50-75% in utility bills, converting your sports field lighting from metal halide to LED is a no-brainer. See below the conversion calculations for your typical recreation, high school, or college sports fields/stadiums.

The amount of light needed to light up your ballpark depends on the court size and the lighting level requirement (footcandles) for your competition level (class 1 = 75fc, class 2 = 50fc, class 3= 20fc). 

  • Baseball field
    • Class I – college/professional
      • 120,000 sq ft x 75fc = 9,000,000 lumens
      • Wattage needed (130 LPW): 69,000 watts
      • 69 x 1000w LED fixtures
    • Class II: – high school
      • 105,000 sq ft x 50fc = 5,250,000 lumens
      • Wattage needed (130 LPW): 40,000 watts
      • 80 x 500w OR 40 x 1000w LED fixtures
    • Class III: – recreational
      • 105,000 sq ft x 20fc = 2,100,000 lumens
      • Wattage needed (130 LPW): 16,000 watts
      • 32 x 500w OR 16 x 1000w LED fixtures
  • Football field
    • Class I – college/professional
      • 57,600 sq ft x 75fc = 4,320,000 lumens
      • Wattage needed (130 LPW): 33,000 watts
      • 33 x 1000w LED fixtures
    • Class II:
      • 57,600 sq ft x 50 fc = 2,880,000 lumens
      • Wattage needed (130 LPW): 22,000 watts
      • 44 x 500w OR 22 x 1000w LED fixtures)
    • Class III:
      • 57,600 sq ft x 20 fc = 1,152,000 lumens
      • Wattage needed (130 LPW): 9,000 watts
      • 18 x 500w LED fixtures
  • Soccer field
    • Class I:
      • 81,000 sq ft x 75 fc = 6,075,000 lumens
      • Wattage needed (130 LPW): 47,000 watts
      • 47 x 1000w LED fixtures
    • Class II:
      • 81,000 sq ft x 50 fc = 4,050,000 lumens
      • Wattage needed (130 LPW): 31,000 watts
      • 62 x 500w OR 31 x 1000w LED fixtures
    • Class III:
      • 81,000 sq ft x 20 fc = 1,620,000 lumens
      • Wattage needed (130 LPW): 12,500 watts
      • 25 x 500w OR 13 x 1000w LED fixtures

Auditing the existing lighting system

Before you can purchase or install your new LED sports lighting kit, you need to conduct a thorough audit of your existing system. Understanding what you will need before setting your budget and timeline helps you avoid unnecessary expenses.

First, you need to know what kinds of lights can be replaced with LEDs. While most metal halide solutions are suitable for replacement, you want to make sure each individual component can be converted. Working with a trusted sports lighting professional can help you decipher the details and determine which components can be replaced.

Next, you’ll need to determine if your wiring needs to be replaced, or if you need to have a ballast bypass. Ballast bypassing involves the removal of the existing ballast and wiring in order to power LED bulbs directly from the line voltage.

The condition of your existing lighting poles needs to be inspected before proceeding. If the structural integrity is compromised, you’ll need to replace them.

At first glance, the auditing process might seem simple. However, it’s a critical step and should be conducted by a professional. Any mistakes or overlooked needs can mean major headaches later in the project — and can even render your installation a failure.

How to convert a metal halide sports lighting system to LED

Once you’ve established that your metal halide lighting system can be converted to LED, it’s time to get to work. Let’s take a look at a bit of the metal halide to LED conversion process so you can better understand what to expect.

In most cases, your sports lighting pro will remove your old metal halide fixtures and replace them with new LEDs. They will use the existing poles, structures, and even the wiring. A retrofit saves organizations a lot of money in labor costs, as it takes less time and fewer resources to install than a full lighting system replacement.

To make the process even easier, there are many high-quality LED retrofit kits on the market. These kits are designed to maximize efficiency and give you everything you need for a seamless installation. In many cases, the retrofit kits include LED drivers, brackets, and mounting hardware.

When you’re working with a professional installer, be sure to ask about all of your options. Having a trusted partner walk you and your team through the process can make all the difference.

Please note that even if you’re able to convert your existing system to LEDs, it may not be the best option. Although the upfront cost savings are attractive, it gives you less control over the light output and quality of your end product. If you want to experience all the benefits of LED technology, you will want to go with a full replacement solution.

Why you should convert your existing metal halide sports lighters to LED technology

If it isn’t clear already, LEDs far outpace the performance of outdated metal halide sports lighting. Here are a few of the main reasons your athletics facility should consider making the switch: 

  • More Energy Efficient – 75% less energy used with LEDs
  • Improved Lighting Quality – A better experience for athletes and spectators
  • Longer Life Span – Up to 100,000 running hours compared to 15,000 for metal halide
  • Reduced Maintenance Costs – A significant reduction in labor 

You’ll want to add up all of the savings you’ll receive from these four factors and divide them by the lifespan hours. 

LED sports lighting is more energy efficient than traditional metal halide lighting, so you’ll save hundreds of dollars on your monthly energy bills. The improved quality of light will make it easier for athletes to perform better and stay safe on the field. LEDs also have a much longer life span, so you won’t have to worry about having to replace the fixtures as often. And because LEDs require much less maintenance, you can save money on labor costs by cutting back on your service calls. 

How much does it cost to convert a metal halide sports lighting system to LED?

The cost of a LED retrofit for your metal halide sports lighting system will depend on the complexity of your project and the number of fixtures being replaced. However, there are some ballpark figures to keep in mind.

On average, you can expect a retrofit project to cost around $122,000 and $588,000 for your entire project. This includes the installation costs as well as the fixtures themselves. Keep in mind that this is just a rough estimate and your actual costs will depend on the specific scope of work. Use our LED retrofit cost calculator to get a customized estimate for your project.

When you retrofit from metal halide to LED, it’s important to remember that this is an investment. The upfront costs may seem steep, but the long-term savings in energy and maintenance expenses are tremendous. You’ll save money on your utility bills while enjoying brighter, higher-quality lighting than ever before.

And if you need assistance funding your conversion project, there are plenty of grants and other incentives from both the federal and state government. By taking advantage of these programs, you can significantly reduce the cost of your retrofit and make it a more attractive financial option.