Pickleball: A Growing Phenomenon
Pickleball is a sports phenomenon sweeping the nation. Similar to tennis, badminton, and racquetball, pickleball is attracting players of all ages to its courts. The racquet sport originated in the 1960s but has exploded in popularity in recent years due to Baby Boomers embracing the sport. Pickleball courts are being built in country clubs, city parks, apartment/condominium complexes, community centers, YMCAs and more. As more and more people discover pickleball, pickleball clubs are growing in number too. According to the USA Pickleball Association, “the number of places to play has more than doubled since 2010.” Pickleball is especially popular on the East Coast, West Coast, and the Great Lakes areas, and since pickleball court lighting increases court time available, many courts are being built with lighting or having lights added to existing courts.
Pickleball Court Standards
With the advent and growth of any new sport, requirements, and standards must be established for court construction. The USA Pickleball Association dictates the official rules of the game and the court dimensions to be officially recognized. Pickleball courts are rectangular and look much like tennis or badminton courts. The standard dimensions of a pickleball court are 20 feet by 44 feet for singles and doubles with a minimum total playing surface of 30 feet by 60 feet (34 feet by 64 feet recommended). A typical outdoor pickleball court will require two or four poles and four LED fixtures.
Pickleball Court Lighting Requirements
Pickleball courts standards require illumination be supplied by luminaires mounted on twenty-foot high poles that deliver an average of 30 footcandles (fc), and a max/min ratio of 2.0 or less. Mounting the luminaires on twenty-foot poles enables pickleball players to see the ball when it goes up into a high arc. A shorter pole would cause the ball to disappear when it goes above the lights and reappear someplace else as it returns to the court. 30 fc is the light level required for players to see the ball, even as it moves at a high speed. Lower-level lighting would make visibility difficult.
A max/min ratio is the highest area of light on the court divided by the lowest area of light on the court. It is a measure of how even the light is. While other sports typically set the maximum max/min ratio at 3.0, most other sports are played on a larger field or court. Pickleball has a max/min ratio of 2.0. A 2.0 max/min ratio is extremely even light which enhances visibility. The ball will not be obscured by a dark area and players eyes will not need to adjust to varying light levels.
Pickleball Court Lighting, Lighting Ordinance, and Building Requirements
Meeting pickleball court lighting requirements is one objective. Meeting local lighting ordinances is another thing. Many communities require that pickleball court lighting meets standards such as being full cutoff, dark sky compliant, partially shielded, fully shielded, limit light trespass, having a limited pole height, or having poles that meet wind standards of as much as 190+ MPH. The following is a breakout of each and what it means.
Full Cutoff Pickleball Court Lighting
Many pickleball court lighting designs project the light by aiming/tilting the light fixtures. With full cutoff pickleball court lighting, the light fixtures are mounted horizontally to the court surface. This limits or eliminates up-light thus protecting the dark sky and environment. The optics in the advanced LED light fixtures direct the light output so tilting and aiming are not required. The result is effective pickleball court lighting without disrupting views of the heavens and without disrupting nature.
Dark Sky Compliant Pickleball Court Lighting
Dark Sky lighting requirements are becoming much more common. Dark sky compliant pickleball court lighting starts with full cutoff light fixtures. While most sports lighting is 4000 Kelvin or 5000 Kelvin, to be dark sky compliant the LEDs have to be 3000 Kelvin or lower. While 3000 Kelvin is a warmer color of light, the lighting can still be effective for pickleball and it will meet most dark sky compliant ordinances. Please note that dark sky ordinances can vary, such as requiring 2200 Kelvin LEDs, so always check the lighting ordinance for your community.
Partial Shielding, Full Shielding, Back Light Shielding, and Individual LED Shielding for Pickleball Courts
One form of light pollution is seeing the light source from off of the property or location that is being illuminated. This can be reduced or eliminated by using a specific type of shielding or a combination of shielding. Partial shielding, also known as a 3/4 baffle is typically a baffle that covers 3 sides of the light fixture. Full shielding is similar, but the shielding goes all the way around the light source. It is like a box under the light fixture. Backlight shielding is a very small shield that goes behind each LED, limiting light behind the light fixture and obscuring the light source from behind. Individual LED shielding is the newest form of shielding. Individual LED shielding is little boxes that go around the LEDs. A view of the LEDs is obscured while the size of the shielding minimizes the effect on light distribution.
Pickleball Court Lighting and Light Trespass
Light trespass is typically measured by how many footcandles are emitted outside of the area scheduled to be illuminated or the footcandles emitted over the property line. Depending on the community, the lighting ordinances can restrict the latter to levels as low as 0.05fc. Appropriate LED optics and different forms of shielding reduce or eliminate light trespass in most instances. A photometric study can model the light emitted and test for light trespass.
Pickleball Court Lighting and Pole Height
The USA Pickleball Association states that lights should be mounted on 20′ tall poles, but if your local lighting ordinance requires a mounting height of lower than 15 feet, which standard do you think will be the determining factor? Obviously, you have to meet the local lighting ordinance or go without lighting. Today, using the advanced optics in Access Fixtures sports lights like the APTA, Access Fixtures can meet all USA Pickleball Association standards with a mounting height of 14 feet. This enables homeowners, HOAs, etc. to have pickleball lighting without 20′ poles. The only drawback is if a pickleball ball pops up over 14′ high. Since that doesn’t happen a lot in pickleball, the tradeoff is worthwhile.
Pickleball Court Light Poles and Windspeed
Building ordinances require that pickleball court poles meet the windspeed required to survive hurricanes, typhoons, and other assorted meteorological events. This requires that the sports lighting have a low EPA to minimize the walls and gauge of a pole, while the pole is able to withstand the weather event. Access Fixtures has designed and engineered poles that can withstand the 180+ mph requirements of part of Florida and even the 190+ mph requirements of Guam. Materials also matter. Metal poles located near or by the ocean can rust. To increase the life of the poles, the poles should either have a extra protective coating, be galvanized, or the pole should be manufactured with a fiberglass composite.
Using APTA Sports Lights to Illuminate Your Pickleball Court
Access Fixtures’ most popular LED sports light is APTA. APTAs meet USA Pickleball Association requirements, and with multiple optics and options can meet dark sky requirements and most if not all light trespass requirements.
APTA LED sports lights are designed and manufactured to provide powerful and reliable lighting that meets USA Pickleball Association standards as well as your community’s lighting requirements. With superior optics, spill light control design, lumen-per-watt output (LPW) of up to 160, and low weight/low effective projection area (EPA), APTAs are designed to provide long-lasting, superior quality, anti-glare light for your pickleball court lighting.
- EXTREME-LIFE: Exceptional heat sink design produces an EXTREME-LIFE rating of L70 @ 200,000 hours for years of virtually maintenance-free performance
- Lasting Durability: APTAs feature an anti-corrosive, marine-grade finish, 10ka surge protection, and IP66 and IK10 impact resistance to withstand extreme weather conditions
- Field Repairable: APTAs have a fully modular construction and are field repairable. All parts can be easily replaced in the field. APTAs come with a 5-year warranty and a 10-year warranty is optional.
Click to Download the APTA Sports Light Catalog
Click to View Pickleball Court Lighting Packages
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