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A YMCA Natatorium… With A Serious Lighting Dilemma


A manager at a YMCA location in the southern United States recently contacted an Access Fixtures lighting specialist with a problem. A 60′ x 80′ pool used by children and senior citizen YMCA members was becoming unsafe to use due to very poor lighting, and the board of health was threatening to shut the pool area down. The problem was, the nonprofit’s budget was tight and adding new fixtures seemed like it would be too expensive. Access Fixtures was able to step up and help, and the results were truly amazing. Read on to see how Access Fixtures helped to turn a safety nightmare into a beautiful and welcoming space for young and old alike.  


Shop Swim Area Lighting

What We Had to Work With

In order to create an appropriate, budget-friendly lighting solution for this YMCA, Access Fixtures had to take stock of all of the factors involved. These included the previous type of lighting fixtures in the area, the size of the space, the desired footcandles, and many other factors. Through correspondences with the customer, Access Fixtures lighting specialists were able to discern what the pool area looked like and what factors were currently contributing to the poor lighting conditions. The following information helped paint a picture for our specialists and indicated how to proceed.

  • The natatorium is approximately 60′ x 80′ and is currently in use by mostly senior and youth YMCA members. 
  • At the time of request, the YMCA had installed 30 metal halide fixtures on the wall at 400w each. Only one of those fixtures currently worked at all.
  • The lighting from the metal halide fixture had poor color rendering with a color rendering index (CRI) of around 60. 
  • Metal halide suffers from color shift. Metal halide lamps can change in color. In this case the result was an eerie green cast.
  • This lighting also shone directly into the pool, which created major glare issues.

As previously mentioned in the introduction, these conditions were so poor that the lighting in the natatorium rendered use of the pool impossible. The photo on the right shows the natatorium, lit with one single 400w metal halide fixture. Note the greenish cast and near-complete lack of visibility. 


What We Provided


Using years of experience and taking budget into account, Access Fixtures proposed several LED lighting solutions. All of these solutions met the following requirements:

  • High CRI
  • More lumen efficiency than metal halide fixtures
  • Less than 1 for 1 replacement, aimed at saving costs
  • Budget-friendly
  • Higher Kelvin temperature
  • IP rated

In the end, Access Fixtures procured a solution involving twelve 120w LED fixtures. The new fixtures were able to produce the level of lighting seen in the “after” photo to the right. Glare was practically eliminated as a result of diffusing the light off the ceiling. It only took twelve of these cost-conscious fixtures to emit enough lumens as 30 400w metal halide fixtures, and it came with other perks, too. The fixtures used in this lighting solution were IP65 rated against jetting water and dust. 5000K and 80+ CRI both eliminated the greenish cast and provided vibrant color rendering. Better yet, all of the fixtures installed are covered by a 5-year Access Fixtures warranty. 

In the end, YMCA patrons and staff were extremely pleased with this lighting makeover. If you have a similar situation, contact Access Fixtures and request a photometric analysis. Email [email protected] or call 800-468-9925. A lighting specialist will be happy to help you make your natatorium or pool area safe and beautiful.