It is Saturday afternoon and we get a call forwarded from the office. On the other end is a customer in North Carolina who has purchased a pulse start metal halide (PSMH) lighting system for his half basketball court. His electrician has just told him that the PSMH ballast is set for a 277v line but the customer has 240v running out to his basketball court. The situation introduces two questions: Why did the customer purchase PSMH instead of LED and how did he end up with a 277v PSMH ballast when he obviously needs 240v?
Question #1: Why Did the Customer Purchase PSMH Half Court Basketball Lighting Instead of LED?
LED uses much less energy, is more cost-effective over time, and is rated to last far
longer than PSMH. However—and here is the important detail—PSMH costs much less upfront. For instance, as we write this, the Access Fixtures LED half basketball court will run you almost $1,500.00 more than the PSMH half basketball court. Not every customer’s budget (or the budget given to an electrician or contractor) is able to cover the upfront costs of LED. The ROI may be greater for LED over three, five, or ten years, but if you’re looking for quick payback, PSMH may be a better route.
For instance, if you’re looking to install a half basketball court, your electricity cost is $0.25/kWh, and you plan on using the court five days a week for four hours a day, LED will run you $377.00 less per year. This means you won’t likely see a ROI for three to four years. Ouch.
Of course, once you hit your break-even point, the LED fixtures will continue powering on far longer than the PSMH fixtures. The latter will be more expensive every year and will require new lamps and components over time; for a basketball court with 20’ poles, this usually means paying for scissor lifts and maintenance fees. LED luminaires from Access Fixtures, however, can usually remain untouched for 70,000–100,000 (or more) operating hours.
A big factor in your decision should be your cost per kWh. Will you really use the court 20 hours per week, year-round? If your electricity cost is lower (it probably is) or if you plan on using the court for fewer than 20 hours per week with the lights on, your PSMH operating costs will be less and it may take longer to see your financial return.
Question #2: How Did the Customer End Up with a PSMH Ballast Wired for 277v When He Really Needed 240v?
Access Fixtures PSMH luminaires are equipped with multi-tap ballasts. If a customer does not specify his or her voltage at the time of ordering, production sets the voltage at the highest level possible. Our engineers then bench test the luminaire to make sure it works, package it, and ship it out.
The highest voltage available on the multi-tap ballast for this customer’s fixture was 277v. If a luminaire preset to 277v is hooked up to a lower-voltage line, the fixture will simply not turn on. If the luminaire present to a lower voltage is hooked up to a higher-voltage line, the electrical surge will destroy the ballast. The decision to set the voltage as high as possible is one that protects the ballast on the fixture.
When this customer called, the Access Fixtures lighting specialist explained how he could easily change the wiring to the ballast to any voltage he desired. Problem solved.
Speak to an Access Fixtures Lighting Specialist about Choosing the Right Fixture
What are you doing this Saturday? If you have a lighting question, we are glad to answer your questions. We want to make sure you get the exact fixture for your needs, your budget, and your goals. We are passionate about lighting and love what we do—we will get you an answer. To speak with an Access Fixtures lighting specialist, call (800) 468-9925.