A Texas doctor was visiting his California venture capitalist friend, when he noticed the friend’s exquisite sports lighting on his backyard half basketball court. The VC’s court was lit with two LED luminaires each mounted on a 25 foot pole. Not to be outdone, the doctor decided it was time to update his court lighting with better sports lighting. He contacted Access Fixtures.

The Texas doctor had a soccer field and a basketball court in his backyard. The two courts were adjacent to each other, with the half basketball court on the long side of the soccer field. There was some lighting in the backyard, but not enough to support recreational level sports on the court and field. How could the lighting be improved or replaced?


The soccer field


The half basketball court

The solution would not be an Access Fixtures package solution. It needed to be custom, as there were two adjacent courts: a half basketball court and a small soccer field located adjacent to each other. Standard Access Fixtures poles and luminaires would be used, but in a custom layout. As with most courts for sports, Access Fixtures lighting specialists used their knowledge base and computer aided photometric analysis to answer the following questions.

Should the adjacent courts be lit at the same time?

Even without photometric analysis, the answer is most likely yes. Since they are adjacent to one another, the two courts would frequently be used at the same time and lighting from one could be also used to light the other. Lighting each one individually had the potential to require more poles and luminaires, increasing cost. In the end, this was solved with photometric analysis. The cost of the lighting would be reduced by lighting both at the same time. Based on the typical use patterns of a private recreational courts, the lights are only on during play time which quickly limits the energy used and reduced payback from additional energy efficiency.

Where should the light sources be placed?

Using photos of a location and an aerial image from Google Maps or a site plan, Access Fixtures lighting specialists are able to design a lighting system using three-dimensional photometric analysis software. This software determines the quantity and location of poles and luminaires to meet the desired light distribution levels. In this case, some fixtures were mounted on the walls of the house while others were mounted on poles.


Photometric analysis software helps lighting specialists design the lighting system.

How many luminaires would be required?

This was also determined through photometric analysis. Naturally, there has to be enough light to effectively participate in the sport. Basketball and soccer employ a large ball and require less lighting than a sport like tennis. The smaller the ball and the higher the speed of the movement, the more light required.

How would the lighting effect backyard parties?

Assuming it was an active backyard party, one where the attendees are participating in sports, the lighting would enhance the parties. If it were an intimate backyard party for a small group of people, the lights on the adjacent courts could be left off and this would have no effect on the party. With LED and optional dimming, the courts could be lit with low level light. No matter which configuration is selected, the ability to light the two courts could only be a benefit.

Was there potential for the lighting to aggravate neighbors?

Neighbors have a peculiar attitude–NIMBY, or “not in my backyard.” The real issues are light pollution and light trespass. In this case, light pollution comes in the form: “When I look out my side window, I can see that your lights are on. Light trespass is: “That area of my backyard is one foot candle brighter than it was before you turned your lights on.” Neither externality should be a major issue or extract the cost from the neighbor. In this case, the trees, an existing fence and a hill would mitigate some of the ability to see if the lights were on. They would also eliminate some light trespass. To know the full extent of light trespass, Access Fixtures lighting specialists typically run a photometric analysis on light trespass outside the property owner’s land. In this particular case, there was not a light trespass issue. Even if there were, the lights are not on all night, just when the courts are being used.

What type of lighting should be used?

The customer had a choice of two different lighting technologies: LED or pulse-start metal halide. The customer opted for the best available and chose LED, which nearly eliminates maintenance, reduces energy costs, and is rated for 100,000 hours of use.

Now, the Texas doctor has two adjacent backyard courts illuminated for effective play, as opposed to his California friend who has just one beautifully lit court. Next time his friend visits Texas, the friend might have some sports lighting envy of his own.