What is the real cost of LED soccer field lighting systems?

soccer field led lighting

The beautiful game deserves to be seen, so the lighting system for a soccer field is almost as important as the pitch itself. Every soccer field presents unique demands and requirements for its lighting. The size, location and level of the play all factor into the design and, ultimately, the cost of the lighting. In this guide, we’ll break down the major points to consider and go over in detail with sports field lighting system designers.

Table of Contents

Soccer field dimensions and position of floodlight poles

The smallest soccer players start out on the smallest soccer fields. Pitches for U6’s can be as small as 45′ x 90′. The fields grow in parallel with the players until high school, when soccer fields reach the 80 yards x 120 yards dimensions seen in the pro ranks.

The dimensions of the field are the first major inputs into lighting design. U6 pitches can’t have dark spots any more than FIFA-sanctioned pro pitches can. Larger fields or larger complexes comprised of several smaller fields arranged one after the other will need to have more, brighter lights than smaller fields simply to illuminate the additional area.

What kind of floodlights to install for a soccer field?

At every level of play, any new lighting system is going to feature LED lights. LED lights provide uniform, glare-free light over a longer lifespan than conventional halide lamps. LEDs use less energy and require less maintenance, reducing both the day-to-day cost of use and the long-term operating expenses. Get a better handle on the superiority of LED lights with this article.

The brightness of a light is measured in lumens, and your electricity bill depends on how many watts you use. So we can think about “lumens per watt” as a back-of-the-napkin way of sketching out how much money you can save by installing LED lights.

Looking at the chart below, we can see that for any amount of lumens (that is, any level of brightness over a given area), an LED lamp consumes about a quarter of the power that a halide lamp needs to produce that light level. If we’re paying by the watt, that’s a 75% savings. And since we’re paying for tens of thousands of watts over tens of thousands of square feet, we’re talking serious amounts of money!

LED lighting conversion table
Metal Halide wattage HPS wattage LED wattage Average lumen output
1500W
1000W
400W-600W
110.000-140.000
2000W
1500W
500W-1000W
240.000-270.000
4000W-7000W
3000W
2000W
400.000-520.000

Important considerations about soccer field lighting design

Height of floodlight poles

We talk about all the factors that go into lighting system design, but that’s a bit too simple. All the different factors play off of each other – like a soccer team – with the decisions you make about one affecting the decisions you can and will make on others.

A great example of this is the height of the light poles. Smaller poles place the lights closer to the pitch, which means the light does not diffuse as much between the lamp and the ground. This may seem like a better option: smaller poles, fewer and less powerful lamps… less money, right? Well, no, not exactly.

Shorter floodlight poles bring the lamps more into the players’ and spectators’ lines of sight. Players tracking a goal kick high in the air or a goalkeeper watching a shot come over the wall may momentarily lose sight of the ball as it passes between them and a light. This could cause them to make a mistake or, more dangerously, have a mid-air collision with another player. By placing the lights on taller poles, the lamps are less likely to come into the direct sight of the players or fans, making for a better experience.

The acute angle of lamps on tall poles also reduces the amount of light spillage. Spillage is a waste of light and electricity – you’re paying for light that’s not going where you need it to go. It also contributes to light pollution, which could negatively affect your relationships with nearby houses, businesses and local governments.

Lighting uniformity

We talk about all the factors that go into lighting system design, but that’s a bit too simple. All the different factors play off of each other – like a soccer team – with the decisions you make about one affecting the decisions you can and will make on others.

Best color temperature for sports lighting

Different lights have different temperatures, which have nothing to do with how hot the lamp or the light itself get. When we talk about the “temperature” of a light, we’re referring to the color of light a “black box” emits when it is heated to different temperatures. 

At around 3000 degrees Kelvin (K), the “black box” glows a soft orange-yellow. Lights rated around 3000K for color temperature are considered “warm”: they have a warm, comforting character. Raise the temperature of the black box to 5000K, and the light starts to be clear and white. This range of color temperature is considered a bit “cooler.” Yes, you read that right. As the temperature of the black box goes up, our description of the light’s color temperature gets “cooler.” At 6000K or above, the light is stark white with a bluish tinge and is “cool.” 

Soccer field lighting tends to be on the cooler side of things, usually in the 5000K range. This provides the most neutral experience for the in-stadium spectators; elevates the players’ level of attention and arousal; and looks the best on video. In fact, many broadcasters and streaming services require a minimum color temperature to ensure a high-quality video.

Soccer field lighting requirements & standards

We mentioned earlier that lumens are the basic unit of light. But when we’re mounting lamps on light poles around a soccer field, knowing how much light each lamp puts out doesn’t really tell us all that much. We’re interested in the lux: the lumens per square meter.

The lux levels depend on the strength of the lamps, the distance between the lamps and the pitch (which, in turn, is a function of how far the light poles are from the field and how tall they are), the beam angle of the fixtures, and how much each lamp’s beam overlaps with other lamps’ beams at the level of the field. Whew.

Soccer’s governing bodies and associations have established lighting classes based on the competitive level using the field. Professional soccer fields need to be at a Class I level: 1,000 lux (that is, 1,000 lumens per square area). Depending on where they are in the soccer pyramid, college and semi-pro teams may need either Class I or Class II lighting. Class II requires 500 lux: half the brightness as Class I. Going down into the youth and grassroots levels, and training grounds for upper level teams, Class III and IV lights provide 300 and 200 lux, respectively.

Soccer Field Lighting: classification of play
Sports Facility Class I Class II Class III Class IV
Illuminance
100 fc. / 1,000 lux.
50 fc. / 500 lux.
30 fc. / 300 lux.
20 fc. / 200 lux.
Professional Sports
x
College Sports
x
x
Semi-Professional
x
x
Sports Clubs
x
x
x
Amateur Leagues
x
x
x
High School
x
x
x
Training Facilities
x
x
Elementary School
x

How much do soccer field lights cost?

If you’ve read this far, you now have an appreciation of how all these different considerations interact in designing a lighting system for a soccer field. Just as they all affect each other from a design and engineering perspective, they also all go into the cost of the system.

Lighting for a larger field will cost more than lighting for a smaller field. The larger field will require more lamps and stronger lamps, placed on more poles that are also taller. A larger field at a lower level of competition will cost less than the same size field at a higher level, because of the lighting classification requirements. But will a college soccer team’s practice field cost more or less than a competitive U14 field? That’s a good question to ask a professional lighting designer, or plug into our cost calculator if you want an immediate answer.

Installation cost of soccer field LED lights

For the most part, the lighting system for a collegiate or professional soccer field will run from $140,000 – $350,000. Lower-level pitches – smaller, and with less stringent requirements – can cost from $50,000 to $150,000.

Those are the installation costs. Everything that you know about now will also factor into the operating expenses. The strength of the lights and their frequency and duration of use will determine the electricity bill and maintenance schedule. A highly competitive field will cost more per hour to light, but the lights may only be on a few hours a week. A lower-level field will cost less per hour, but the lights will be on five hours a night, six days a week.

Cost of converting to LED lighting

The installation costs might be a bit lower if you are upgrading your lighting system rather than installing a full new infrastructure. If you are able to use the existing light poles (which would probably be the case only if you have metal poles), that’s one less thing to buy. Well, actually, 4-8 fewer things to buy. Even if you have to replace the poles, you may not need to replace the foundations. And if the electrical infrastructure – wiring, junction boxes and electrical panels – is sufficient, then you can plug into that (literally) rather than start and pay from the ground up.

How to finance a led soccer lighting system investment?

One of the advantages of LED lighting systems is that they save money compared to their halide predecessors. Another advantage is that they can open up new revenue opportunities through expanded hours of operation, broadcasting and sponsorship. And a third financial advantage is that they may be eligible for a variety of grants and tax credits because of the positive impacts they have on the community and the environment.

Guide: Sports facility funding & financing

Guide: Grants for new sports lighting systems

Soccer field lighting companies

You may not be surprised to hear – after reading all that – that there are people and companies who do sports field lighting full time. This is an industry and specialty all to itself, and we’ve barely made an introduction to it.

Fortunately, we’re ready to make the full introduction. Our cost calculator lets you input your project specs – many of which we’ve covered here – so we can provide an estimate on your lighting project. Then, if you’re interested, we’ll then connect you with specialists who can take you the rest of the distance en route to a new lighting system around your soccer field.