22nd June 2022

Answering your biggest questions about hockey lighting

One of the many great things about our partnership with England Hockey is that we get to hear first-hand what some of its members are thinking when it comes to lighting. And while those issues vary from club to club, some questions come up time and time again.

In this post, Patrick Daly – Midstream’s National Sales Manager – shares his responses to some of the most frequently asked questions from clubs across the country.

Are LED-based lighting solutions expensive? Can we afford to switch to LED?

With the current situation regarding energy prices and inflation, a better question might be whether you can afford not to. With the energy price cap lifting again October, we’re seeing some clubs expecting their running costs to double. For those using outdated, inefficient floodlights like metal halide ones, the case for change is going to be particularly strong.

“It’s also important to know that the cost of LEDs has fallen considerably over the past five years or so. Like any new technology, LEDs carried a premium when they first hit the market. But we’re now well beyond the tipping point, and LEDs are both cheaper overall and a lot more cost effective than other lights over the long term too.

Will LED lights really save us money? When will we start to see a return?

Absolutely. On many of the hockey projects I’ve worked on – probably the majority, in fact – replacing metal halide lights with LED ones means the club has halved their energy use. As you can imagine, that has an enormous impact on cost. Maintenance costs for LEDs also tend to be considerably lower.

“As to how quickly you’ll see a return, that varies from club to club. As a general rule, hockey clubs tend to see a faster return on their lighting investments than other sports. That’s due to the fact that they use more floodlights overall, and that they use them more often – so the energy savings mount up quicker. It’s not uncommon for clubs to start seeing a return within the first five years of use.

My lights are not working in one corner. Do I really need to replace them?

Probably, but not necessarily. The key factor at play here is something that we call ‘uniformity’. In any sport, but particularly in hockey where the game moves quickly and the ball can be hard to see, you want good uniformity because that means there won’t be parts of the pitch where light levels fluctuate – something that can be bad from a safety perspective.

The best thing to do in this case is speak to an expert. At Midstream, we always work with existing infrastructure whenever we can, because it’s more cost effective for the club. So if you have some lights that are genuinely fine and – more importantly – up to the same standard as the new ones that we’d fit, then as long as the uniformity doesn’t suffer then they may be okay to retain.

How often do I need to have my LED lights maintained or cleaned?

With LED lights, this largely comes down to the manufacturer. With our LEDs for instance, we offer a 10 year guarantee that covers you regardless of whether you carry out maintenance or not. We know that clubs are busy, and we know that they don’t need the extra hassle of having to meet certain requirements just to keep their warranty active. Some manufacturers do insist that you sign up to a service contract in order not to invalidate your warranty, so that’s always worth checking.

How often you clean your lights really comes down to how invested you are in keeping them in peak condition. We always recommend that you try to clean your lights every 2-3 years to keep them performing as their best. If you’re going to do that regularly, consider opting for a base-hinged mast to make things easier.

Should I think about light spill when planning my hockey lighting?

Particularly in England where hockey pitches tend to be based in highly populated areas light spill can be a big concern for clubs. Light spill is mainly the result of using the wrong fitting, or not using dedicated sports lighting. With purpose built lighting solutions, there are plenty of ways to ensure that they only illuminate what they should – cowls, shielding, hoods, mast height, and even fencing where necessary.

One of the other issues here is ecology, and specifically bats. As a protected species, there are lots of restrictions placed on anything that might disturb their habitat. For clubs with an existing lighting solution in place though, something dramatic would had to have changed between that previous installation and the upgrade for planning not to be granted. And we actually help a number of clubs through the planning process, too.

Should I think about light spill when planning my hockey lighting?

Particularly in England where hockey pitches tend to be based in highly populated areas light spill can be a big concern for clubs. Light spill is mainly the result of using the wrong fitting, or not using dedicated sports lighting. With purpose built lighting solutions, there are plenty of ways to ensure that they only illuminate what they should – cowls, shielding, hoods, mast height, and even fencing where necessary.

One of the other issues here is ecology, and specifically bats. As a protected species, there are lots of restrictions placed on anything that might disturb their habitat. For clubs with an existing lighting solution in place though, something dramatic would had to have changed between that previous installation and the upgrade for planning not to be granted. And we actually help a number of clubs through the planning process, too.

Do we have to replace our masts if we upgrade to LED?

This is an interesting question because the answer can vary based on the floodlights you choose. There’s a general perception that LED floodlights are big, heavy objects that need specific masts to support their weight. And, in a lot of cases, that’s true – which means that the club needs new masts as well as new lights.

The way that we build our LEDs at Midstream, though, means that they’re designed to mirror the size and weight of the luminaires that most hockey clubs already have. That means that we’re much more likely to be able to carry out what’s known as a ‘retrofit’ solution – one where we can retain the masts and just install new floodlights. For reference, that can save as much as 50% of the cost on a typical project.

Do sports LED lights come on instantly?

Yes they do, and that’s another good reason to switch from metal-halide floodlights. Once you switch a metal halide light on, it can take about 20 minutes to get up to its full lighting level, which is a waste of both time and power. What’s worse is that if you accidentally switch that light off, you then need to wait the same amount of time while it warms up again.

There are two other advantages here as well. Firstly, if your venue has a pitch that you hire out, you can just switch the lights off when there’s a gap between bookings. Alongside that, LEDs can also be dimmed for other sports that may not need as high lighting levels. Both of those things can help to save you money

Do we need to get our facility rewired for LED lighting?

In the vast majority of cases, you don’t. Because we’re typically reducing the amount of power needed to run a club’s lighting system, the cables they already have tend to be suitably sized to take new LEDs without any problem. All we normally need in that instance is an up to date Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) provide by an electrician to ensure that everything is as it should be. If clubs don’t have an EICR we can recommend a local electrican.

Generally, the only time this really becomes an issue is when a club is completely rethinking what they want their lighting to do for them. If they want to massively increase their lighting levels for instance, and they’ve only had relatively low-power solutions so far, they might need to look at some element of rewiring.

Find out more about about Midstreams Hockey Lighting or for any questions get in contact below.

See more of our Recent Blogs

Why Are LED Floodlights More Efficient

Find out what goes on under the hood that makes LEDs so energy efficient: read our new blog now

Midstream Lighting: Preferred Supplier To The Premier League Stadium Fund

With Midstream appointed as one of the Fund’s preferred lighting suppliers, our new blog takes an in-depth look at the programme

How to apply for floodlight funding from the Football Foundation

Football floodlights: how much do they really cost?

18th May 2022

Green Initiatives in Football Stadiums

Green is the colour: exploring environmental initiatives in football stadiums

You don’t need to be an energy consultant to know that modern sports venues are fairly power-hungry buildings. Even a cursory look at the layout of a typical stadium would be enough to suggest that the monthly electricity bill might be a touch on the high side – particularly now, with energy prices skyrocketing as a result of increased demand and global uncertainty.

From sports lighting and scoreboards to behind-the-scenes facilities like catering and broadcast, even an average sized stadium now burns through a lot of power. That’s particularly true in the case of football stadiums, which tend to be both some of the largest sporting venues and amongst the most frequently used. Some estimates suggest that a large football stadium uses as much as 25,000 KWh during a single 90 minute match – the same amount as eight and a half UK homes do in an entire year .

As much as that has an implication in terms of cost, there is of course another very critical issue at play here: sustainability. Expensive though it might be to power a stadium over the course of a game, the long-term cost to the planet is even greater still. It’s with that concern in mind that a growing number of clubs have been introducing green initiatives designed to reduce – or at least mitigate – the amount of power that their venues use.

In this post, I’d like to highlight some of the most noteworthy green initiatives in football stadiums around the world – including some smart approaches to sports lighting and power.

Chelsea take the points, but it’s Game Zero that matters at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Local derbies are always heated affairs, particularly when the teams involved are competing for one of the coveted Champions League spots. While passions may have been running high on the pitch during Tottenham and Chelsea’s clash last year though, the environmental cost of the game on was at a record-setting low.

On Sunday 19th September 2021, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hosted “Game Zero” – the world’s first net zero carbon elite football match. As is now common in many carbon neutral (and carbon negative) strategies, that result was achieved by first lowering emissions as much as possible, and then offsetting anything that couldn’t be eliminated in its entirety.

In practice, this involved a number of smaller initiatives coming together at once. Players arrived on green biodiesel-powered coaches, fans were encouraged to walk or travel using electric or hybrid vehicles, and all facilities at the stadium – including the sports lighting – were powered by 100% renewable energy. Chelsea may have run out as 3-0 winners on the day, but the long-term legacy of this game is likely to be remembered for very different reasons.

Green Initiatives in Football Stadiums - Game Zero

Forest Green Rovers pitch a different future for football

From the top of the table to the lowest division in the English League – though there’s little doubt that Gloucestershire’s Forest Green Rovers (FGR) could teach some of their higher flying counterparts a few things about sustainability. In 2017, governing body FIFA recognised FGR as “the greenest club in the world”, and it’s easy to see why.

For starters, while Game Zero may have seen renewable energy used for one specific match, FGR’s New Lawn stadium runs on it full time. The club uses 100% green energy (some of which is generated from solar panels installed on the stadium’s roof), its pitch is treated entirely organically, and the grass is even cut using a solar-powered lawnmower. “Another way” indeed.

Ajax challenge the status quo at the Johan Cruijff Arena

On the pitch, Johan Cruijff was known for inventing the eponymous “Cruijff Turn” – a twisting manoeuvre that left his rivals in his wake. It’s only fitting, then, that the stadium that carries the Dutch legend’s name is now recognised for its similarly revolutionary qualities.

Proving that solar panels aren’t just for the likes of Forest Green, Ajax’s Johan Cruijff ArenA employs 4,200 of the devices around almost the whole of the stadium’s roof. What’s more, the club has created a storage system that includes hundreds of new and recycled Electric Vehicle batteries – meaning that it not only has backup power in the event of an outage, but that it can actually supply energy back to the Netherlands’ national grid in times of high demand .

Of course, it would be remiss of us not to mention that the ArenA also uses a highly efficient LED sports lighting solution , as well as an accompanying grow lighting rig that helps to keep the pitch in peak condition.

Betis and Athletic go all in for Forever Green

Let’s finish off with one of the most recent examples of sustainability in action. In an effort to raise awareness of the club’s ongoing Forever Green initiative, Real Betis’ match against Athletic Club last month served as a scintillating showcase of sustainable sport.

First up was a change to the club’s first-team kit, with a revamped design made using 100% recycled polyester. This is no token gesture or PR stunt, either; Betis’ has actually made the shirt available for sale in the club shop. Joining it are a set of Forever Green trainers (or sneakers), made entirely from sustainable and recycled materials.

For the game itself, the club arranged a series of discount offers with electric bike company Lime, as well as electric scooter firms Acciona and Voi, all in a bid to encourage environmentally friendly travel. Those who opted to travel using their own e-bike or scooter were given their own designated parking space as a reward.

On the pitch, players drank from recycled water bottles, while watching fans were able to grab their halftime snacks in biodegradable bowls, before dropping them into recycling bins for their eventual transformation into fertiliser. With one Euro from every ticket sale donated to a reforestation project, the club also made a commitment to offsetting the carbon emissions from the game.

For Betis, green clearly means much more than just the colour on their shirts.

Can we realistically expect every match to live up to the amazing example set during the game between Betis and Athletic? Maybe not, but the great stories above do at least give me hope that we’re headed in the right direction.

If you’re interested in maximising the sustainability of your own stadium, you should know that an LED sports lighting solution can have a dramatic impact on reducing the amount of energy that you use. Find out more here, take a look through some of our case studies, and get in touch.

Got any questions? Get in contact

See more of our Recent Blogs

Why Are LED Floodlights More Efficient

Find out what goes on under the hood that makes LEDs so energy efficient: read our new blog now

Midstream Lighting: Preferred Supplier To The Premier League Stadium Fund

With Midstream appointed as one of the Fund’s preferred lighting suppliers, our new blog takes an in-depth look at the programme

How to apply for floodlight funding from the Football Foundation

Football floodlights: how much do they really cost?

25th March 2022

Stadium Lighting 101: getting the most from your sports stadium lighting

No matter the sport, and no matter the level of ability, lighting is now a significant consideration for stadiums of all kinds. Irrespective of whether it’s the final of the FIFA World Cup or a lower-league tie on a frosty Friday night, the quality of a stadium’s lighting goes a long way to dictating the quality of the experience for viewers, fans, and athletes alike.

Not all sports lighting is the same, of course, and even similar products from a single vendor can produce very different results when employed ineffectively. In this post, we’re taking a look at the subject of sports stadium lighting and offering some key tips on how to maximise the success of your own solution.

Why good lighting matters

The important word here is “good”. Almost any floodlight manufactured within the past couple of decades will be capable of illuminating a stadium environment to some degree – but that doesn’t mean that the quality will be at an appropriate level.

What is “appropriate” can change dramatically depending on the venue but, broadly speaking, there are three overarching issues to take into account when thinking about lighting:

  1. Is the solution you’re using going to be sufficient for your athletes or players? Will they be able to operate at the same kind of level that they would in natural daylight?
  2. Does that system give spectators what they need in terms of visibility? Can they see what’s happening on the track or field clearly, no matter where they’re sat?
  3. Is your stadium well-lit enough to ensure the safety of competing professionals? This is particularly important for fast-moving and contact sports.

These are all crucial factors to address when evaluating your lighting needs.

Stadium Lighting 101: getting the most from your sports stadium lighting

Televised sport adds another dimension

In addition to the above, and where relevant, it’s important to consider broadcast coverage. In the last decade in particular, certain changes in regard to sports broadcasting mean that some stadium lighting solutions need to meet very specific requirements. With slow-motion and UHD video now commonplace, high power, flicker-free lighting solutions need to be in place in order to give the cameras what they need.

Even at lower levels, the proliferation of livestreaming means that many teams and venues have an entirely new way to connect with fans, particularly those who are located some way away. Good lighting can help to facilitate that connection.

LEDs offer a perfect solution for sports lighting needs

The lights used in modern stadiums come from a wider category known as “sports lighting”. The majority of stadium lighting systems being manufactured today use LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes), though some vendors do still build their lights using metal halide lamps. These lamps are an increasingly outdated form of technology, and one that has been proven to be far less energy efficient than LED.

Because they need to illuminate large areas, stadium lights usually rely on very high power LEDs. At the highest grade of the soccer stadium lighting regulations outlined by UEFA, for instance, horizontal lighting levels need to be 1,400 lux or above. That’s more than 10 times the amount that the FA stipulates for the majority of games in the National League.

Positioning has a big impact on quality

To deliver the best lighting levels possible, stadium lights also tend to be affixed to either a stand or a mast, typically mounted between 40 and 60ft above the ground – though, at bigger venues, it’s not uncommon to find lights as high as 100ft. Common mast configurations usually include one in each of the four corners, with either one or two masts running down each of the sidelines for a total of six or eight respectively.

Because of the distance between the light and the pitch, small beam angles of between 12-60° are used to keep the light focused and intense. The actual type and number of luminaires (individual floodlight units) required normally depends on the specific circumstances of a stadium, and the sport being hosted there.

Lighting requirements can differ drastically between sports

While lighting layouts between stadiums often have a lot in common, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach – particularly between different disciplines. Much of the variance comes down to the nature of the sport itself; in hockey, for instance, the pace of the game and the size of the ball demands a standard of illumination that wouldn’t necessarily apply on a football pitch.

If you’d like to learn more about some of the specific stadium lighting considerations across different sports, why not take a look at our dedicated pages below?

Power usage varies, but can be predicted

For a stadium lighting solution to be as effective as possible, it needs to be designed with an actual venue’s requirements in mind. Take a football stadium as an example: there can be corner lighting, side lighting in both six and eight column configurations, and even grandstand lighting. Ultimately, the layout needs to work with that stadium’s specific needs.

Because of that, there’s no single answer to the question of how much power stadium lights will use. It’s a variable, and one that can change from stadium to stadium and even country to country depending on energy prices. That said, there are two things to consider when it comes to lighting costs.

Firstly, energy costs can always be predicted using a fairly basic calculations. Take the total number of luminaires and multiply that by the amount of energy that one luminaire requires (i.e. 1.18kW). Multiply the result by the current per hour kW rate (i.e. £0.20) and then, finally, multiply that value by the number of hours that your lights run for in an average year. That will give you a fairly reliable forecast of your annual running costs.

Secondly, and as mentioned above, LED lights offer many advantages over older options like metal halide. Not only are they cheaper and cleaner to run overall, they can also be switched on and off instantly, meaning they can be powered down between matches or events. LEDs are also dimmable, so they can be run on a lower power setting when circumstances allow.

Help is often available

One last thing to bear in mind when it comes to cost is that many sports governing bodies – particularly in the fields of football, rugby, and tennis – now offer grants as a way to help fund new and more energy-efficient stadium lighting solutions.

At Midstream, we’ve helped a number of our sports customers around the world apply for and secure funding for their LED stadium lighting upgrades, so it’s a benefit that’s well worth exploring if you’re looking to take your own venue to the next level.

Got any questions? Get in contact

See more of our Recent Blogs

Why Are LED Floodlights More Efficient

Find out what goes on under the hood that makes LEDs so energy efficient: read our new blog now

Midstream Lighting: Preferred Supplier To The Premier League Stadium Fund

With Midstream appointed as one of the Fund’s preferred lighting suppliers, our new blog takes an in-depth look at the programme

How to apply for floodlight funding from the Football Foundation

Football floodlights: how much do they really cost?

High-powered LEDs and high heat environments – a white paper from Midstream Lighting

When it comes to LED lighting, high heat can present problem after problem. Do you know what these can be? What effect can they have on your lighting systems? And more importantly, what can you do to prevent them?

High Heat White Paper from Midstream Lighting

In high heat environments, where the daytime temperature is around 45ᵒC and it’s above 35ᵒC at night, your LED lighting systems could suffer from such issues as:

  • Lumen depreciation–if you’re in a sector that’s strictly regulated, like the Aviation industry, you ignore this at your peril because it could make your system non-compliant.
  • Colour shift – a big problem when you need colour recognition to be consistent across a whole working area.
  • Total light engine failure – the worst scenario where the only solution is to replace the whole fixture.
  • Power supply ageing – which can lead to a lot of maintenance and the costs that go with it.

To find out more about high—power LED lighting and high heat environments and to help you understand the issues you could face and how to avoid them you can download Midstream’s white paper for FREE here

27th July 2021

Light pollution – what it is and how we combat it

Electrical lighting is an amazing thing and has more than helped shape the world as we know it today. Just try to imagine your life without it. Difficult isn’t it?

If it’s not used wisely, however, it can impact the environment greatly. For example, it’s estimated that around 15-20% of the world’s electricity production is used to power lighting. This in turn leads to around 5% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

One environmental impact of lighting that’s less talked about is caused directly by lighting itself – light pollution.

So what is it?

One example of light pollution is skyglow. This type of light pollution comes about because things like street and building lights aren’t aimed just where they’re needed. Instead, a large proportion of their output goes directly, or is reflected, upwards and is scattered by the atmosphere – this virtually obscures anything above it such as the Milky Way and stars.

How we work to avoid skyglow:

  • All our lighting designs and installations seek to minimise this type of light pollution as much as possible. They never direct light straight to the sky – it would be a total ‘waste’ and compromise what we’re trying to achieve. So, all our products have shields that prevent this.
  • Our luminaires, with their proprietary lenses, are also designed to produce an even light, just where it’s needed, rather than an intense light in one area that would cause greater reflection up to the sky and add to skyglow.

As well as skyglow there are three other main types of recognised light pollution. These are:

  • Glare – excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort.
  • Light spill – light falling where it’s not intended, needed or wanted.
  • Clutter – bright, confusing, and excessive groupings of light sources.

You’ve probably experienced these on a personal level. The dazzle of an oncoming car’s headlights – glare. A neighbour’s garden security lighting shining in your home – spill. If you’re standing in somewhere like the middle of Times Square or Piccadilly Circus– clutter.

They can all happen with industrial lighting too. So in the rest of this short blog, we’ll focus on just these aspects, and what we as an environmentally aware, specialist lighting company do to combat them,

Industrial lighting glare:

Just the same as a car’s headlight glare can cause safety issues, industrial glare can too. Poorly configured aviation apron lighting produces significant safety problems for staff and passengers on the ground, and pilots in their planes. It’s the same for ports and maritime terminal lighting. If high mast crane lighting isn’t properly aimed, with the right shielding also in place, those working on the ground and the crane operators themselves can be affected by harsh glare and safety can be compromised. Glare can also be a problem with sports lighting – for the players, spectators, and broadcasters.

Our lighting Design and Engineering teams have years of experience in creating lighting solutions for airports, ports, and sporting venues. We’ve completed over 100 global airport projects and are the leading supplier of LED lighting systems for airport aprons. We’re also the preferred supplier to many of the world’s busiest and biggest port and terminal operators. We’re a leading sports lighting supplier too. So, we know more than anyone about how to create lighting solutions that minimise the risks of glare – in all applications and environments around the world.

How we prevent glare:

  • Our luminaires have been specially designed with glare in mind. Our Titan Series, one of our flagship products, is manufactured with our propriety optics which deliver maximum light levels on very precise designated areas. Plus, its asymmetric floodlighting provides an excellent solution for low glare applications. Our Modus R Series for sports venues has been designed to ensure low-glare, broadcast-ready, flicker-free lighting too.
  • We test, test, and test again. When we start a project – new build or retrofit – one of the very first things we do is to test our designs on paper to see where glare may be an issue. We then test our proposed designs using things like DIAlux software to make sure they’ll reduce any glare to an absolute minimum. We don’t stop there. Before we install a lighting system we test for any glare in-situ – at the points where it could make an impact. For example, at airports we make observation tests not just at ground level but also at the various heights pilots would be depending on the type of plane.
  • All our lighting installations and products are also designed to be as ‘future-proofed’ as possible. This means, for example, that if changes to the layout of an airport are needed we can easily add extra luminaires to allow for these changes without causing any increase in glare.
Industrial lighting spill:

This is less of a problem when it comes to airports and ports, as they’re usually situated away from urban areas. Sports venues, however, such as soccer grounds, are often found in the middle of cities and close to people’s homes. Poorly designed or installed venue lighting can spill a lot of harsh light – during matches and evening training. Just imagine what this would mean for you if it were shining in your bedroom when you needed to be at work early the next day.

Midstream light spill solutions:

  • Here again, our designers and engineers know exactly what to look for before they even put pen to paper.
  • Our Modus S Series, for sports applications, has been designed with specialty light shields to provide high uniformity as well as to specifically reduce light spill to provide an ideal solution for venues in urban areas.
  • We’re also experts when it comes to national and local lighting planning regulations. So we know:
    • Exactly what regulations need to be complied with.
    • When any additional planning permission is needed.
    • How to stay compliant if any things change later down the line.
Industrial lighting clutter:

This can be a problem almost anywhere if the lighting design is poor and too many light sources are involved. Let’s think again about somewhere like Times Square. Each of the illuminated advertising billboards is vying for your attention. To make their advert stand out, advertisers will ramp up their lighting to the maximum. Other advertisers then follow suit. The results in an excessive grouping of lights that can be hard to distinguish and can be confusing. Light clutter often causes glare issues and also adds to skyglow pollution.

An example of light clutter in an industrial setting can be found in port and terminal layouts. If a port’s lighting system were made up of a close series of lamppost high mast around the entire area with each holding a lamp that’s always lit and directs light straight in front it would produce light clutter. The same can be seen on poorly designed motorways, especially on their slip roads.

How we stop light clutter:

  • On the whole, our lighting solutions are housed on high masts – especially in ports and terminals. This helps prevent clutter from reaching anyone at lower levels – such as the road or the deck of a ship.
  • Also, even when they’re all on the same mast, our lights are positioned so as to not ‘compete’ with each other. Our lighting designs aim each luminaire slightly differently to create a uniform level of light across an entire area – thus avoiding clutter.
A quick summary of just some other environmental benefits LED lighting provides compared to traditional lighting
  • They’re much more efficient – they use much less electricity, so far less global warming CO2 is produced to run them.
  • They give a better quality of light and its distribution – so a lot fewer lamps are needed to cover the same area. This means less need to be produced which leads to environmental savings across the whole production to distribution chain.
  • As they last much longer, not as many need to be produced – giving the same environmental saving as above.
  • They can be controlled very easily and work with things like motion sensors. So, for example, if an area of a port wasn’t being used it can be left unlit and the lights only come on when someone is in that area. They’re also dimmable. Both of these can produce big energy and environmental savings that can’t be achieved with traditional lighting which can’t be dimmed or come on instantly.
  • Traditional lighting can contain environmentally harmful, toxic elements – these aren’t found in LED lights.
Hetty Leiwy, Bid Manager - Midstream Lighting

Hetty Leiwy, Bid Manager at Midstream Lighting.

June 7th 2021

ICAO Lights - Understanding the rules of apron floodlighting an FAQ guide

The world of apron floodlighting can be complex. Sometimes so much so you can end up thinking you need a science PhD and a legal qualification to understand it. That’s probably why it’s one of the things we often get asked about. So we’ve asked Yuli Grig, our Commercial Director & Co-founder, to give us answers to the apron floodlighting questions we get asked most frequently.

Are the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards mandatory?

The ICAO publishes a list of recommendations and not compulsory rules. These recommendations, however, are adopted by local governing national bodies that can convert them into legal requirements. These governing bodies are typically known as ‘Competent Authorities’ (CA) and would usually be a country’s Civil Aviation Authority or their Health & Safety or Standards agencies. As these legal requirements are the responsibility of the local CA, it can choose to exceed any minimum ICAO recommendations if it wishes.

  • In the USA, the legal requirements guiding document is Illuminating Engineering Society of North America’s IES RP-37.
  • In the UK, it’s the Civil Aviation Authority’s CAP168.
  • In Europe, this is covered by European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s EASA CS ADR – DSN.M.750.
  • In Australia, it’s the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s MOS139.

For other examples and to discuss specific national or international requirements, please contact us.

What are the ICAO Standards for apron floodlighting?

These standards can be found in Annex 14 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation
Aerodromes, Volume I, Aerodrome Design and Operations, Eighth Edition, July 2018.

It recommends the Average Illuminance should be at least the following:

  • For aircraft stands:
    • A horizontal illuminance — 20 Lux with a uniformity ratio (average to minimum) of not more than 4 to 1.
    • A vertical illuminance — 20 Lux at a height of 2m above the apron in relevant directions.
  • For other apron areas:
    • A horizontal illuminance — 50 percent of the average illuminance on the aircraft stands with a Uniformity Ratio (average to minimum) of not more than 4 to 1
Should we measure the entire apron or just the aircraft stands individually?

Each aircraft stand needs to be measured independently to guarantee compliance with the requirements because they specifically refer to aircraft stands.

Should we design our lighting system and take measurements for only the largest aircraft type in a MARS (Multiple Apron Ramp System) stand?

For a MARS stand, that may have several aircraft types using it, you need to design it and take measurements for each type of stand within the MARS stand individually.

Should we primarily be concerned with the average lux levels?

Although the requirements call for an Average Illuminance, the minimum levels are also important as they form part of the Uniformity Ratio calculations. The Uniformity Ratio is equally important but is often overlooked during light levels checks. Always make sure the design and actual levels comply with both the Average Illuminance and the Uniformity.

Should I measure the apron with an aircraft parked on it or clean and clear?

Although it doesn’t expressly say so in the recommendations, it wouldn’t be practical or safe to measure the levels with an aircraft on the stand. So, the stand must be clean and clear when any measurements are taken. The design process should also be done without an aircraft on the stand. However, designers may choose to add a model of the aircraft to show the effect of shadowing.

Do I need any special equipment to measure the apron lighting levels?

Yes. You’ll need the following when you’re measuring the apron lighting levels:

  • A LED calibrated light meter.
  • Either a measuring wheel/stick – to measure the distance between the measuring locations.
  • Objects to be used as a marker i.e. traffic cones.
  • A photometric results sheet to keep clear records of the measured lux levels.

The light meter, or lux meter as it’s also known, is a very sensitive device. So we recommend:

  • You chose a reputable manufacturer’s lux meter – typically with an f1’ value better than 3%.
  • Special care is taken to make sure the lux meter is suitable for the application and calibrated within 12 months of usage. This is because the standard calibration of lux meters is made with the CIE Illuminant A (2856K incandescent source) whereas LEDs have a very different spectral response, most commonly with a strong blue peak.
  • You remember to select the correct measuring scale before it’s used.

If you’d like any help choosing a lux meter, or how to use it, just let us know

Would the process be different for a Code C stand compared to a Code F stand?

Yes. A Code F stand is so much bigger than the Code C stand, the same approach wouldn’t work. A higher number of measuring points are needed to give more accurate results for larger-sized stands. You’ll find more details about this in our Photometric Guide >

Is glare covered by ICAO Annex 14?

ICAO Annex 14 doesn’t prescribe the specific glare levels that should be adhered to. It does make the following recommendation though:

  • Apron floodlights should be located to give adequate illumination on all apron service areas, with a minimum of glare to pilots of aircraft in flight and on the ground, aerodrome and apron controllers, and personnel on the apron. The arrangement and aiming of floodlights should mean an aircraft stand receives light from two or more directions to minimize shadows.

The European Normative EN 12464-2:2014 Light and lighting — Lighting of workplaces Part 2: Outdoor work places Table 5.2 — Airports is generally used to prescribe the Glare Rating limits (RGL) which should be below 50.

When designing apron floodlighting, as well as following the recommendation that an aircraft receives light from at least two directions it also applies to the final aircraft stands on either side of an apron area.

Should we consider the taxiways or routing lanes as “other apron areas”? Is glare covered by ICAO Annex 14?

No. They’re very different and their definitions explicitly exclude each other.

An apron is a defined area of land at an airport used for the safe loading and unloading of passengers, mail, cargo. It’s also used for safely fuelling, parking, and maintenance. All of which should happen without interfering with the airport’s traffic. None of these things happen on a taxiway, so they don’t fall under ‘other apron areas’.

Taxiways are included in the definition of Manoeuvring Areas – the part of an airport used for take-off and landing of aircraft, excluding aprons.

The definition of a taxiway is: a specific path at an airport used for the taxiing aircraft that provides a link between one part of an airport and another. This includes:

  • The aircraft stand taxi lane – an area of an apron designated as a taxiway and used to provide access to aircraft stands only.
  • The apron taxiway – a part of a taxiway system found on an apron that gives a taxi-route across the apron.
  • The rapid exit taxiway – a taxiway connected to a runway at an acute angle and designed to allow landing airplanes to turn off at higher speeds than are achieved on other exit taxiways to minimizing runway occupancy times.

It’s worth noting too that the ICAO’s DOC 1957 Aerodrome Design Manual Chapter 13, Apron Floodlighting states that “On taxiways adjacent to aircraft stands, a lower illuminance is desirable in order to provide a gradual transition to the higher illuminance on the aircraft stands.”

Yuli Grig, Commercial Director & Co-founder at Midstream Lighting.

Seven apron floodlighting lessons learned over the years

We’re masters at making LED lighting solutions for airport aprons. Here are just some of the lessons we’ve learned over the last ten years.

Auditing your Airport Apron lighting for compliance – A practical step-by-step guide

In this webinar, we’ll outline the steps you need to take to check apron lighting compliance, from pre-check considerations such as understanding the frequency of testing, light meter requirements or guidance on securing the area, to all the equipment needed and how to achieve the precise measurements. Midstream are specialists in airport lighting, specifically high mast lighting and airport apron lighting.

Light up the night, turn down the heat

To find out more about high-power LED lighting and high heat environments and to help you understand the issues you could face and how to avoid them you can download Midstream’s white paper for FREE here

Feb 15th, 2021

The Midstream Lighting & England Athletics Floodlighting Guide

Absolutely essential reading for athletics club’s facilities managers

As England Athletics’ Official Lighting Partner we’ve created a new, comprehensive Athletics Floodlighting Guide. It’s aimed at athletic clubs and their facilities managers and will help them understand more about the seemingly complex and daunting world of lighting.

We’ve asked James Brunt, our Director of Sports, to tell us more about the guide – why we’ve created it, what it’ll give club facility managers, and the importance of best-in-class LED lighting for athletics clubs. Here’s what he has to say.

Why we’ve created this guide

As pioneers of LED lighting from when we launched over 10 years ago, we’ve made it our mission to design and deliver world-beating LED lighting solutions.

That’s not all though.

As industry leaders, we see it as our responsibility to help educate different markets, such as sports, on what LED lighting can do for them.

That’s exactly what we’ve done with this guide for England Athletics. It also ties in perfectly with their strategic initiative to develop and improve facilities at clubs and venues across the country.

England Athletics Lighting Guide Midstream Lighting
What it’ll give athletics’ club facilities managers

Let me start by telling you what it won’t give them – a lot of impenetrable, scientific ‘mumbo-jumbo’. We’ve kept it all as clear and easy to understand as possible. Even when we’ve had to use an industry term, like Uniformity, we’ve explained what it’s all about.

What does it give then?

Basically, it’s been developed to give club facilities managers an introduction to track and field athletics floodlighting standards and how these standards relate to them.

  • They’ll learn what standards they need to achieve to be compliant with athletics governing bodies’ regulations. With different rules applying to different levels and types of athletics, it’s vital they know which apply to them. It also shows them how they can future proof their lighting for and changes that may happen, like moving up a league.
  • It gives details of the basic equipment needed to analyse, and have a better understanding, of their current floodlighting. Apart from an LED light meter, which only costs around £100 or so, the only other equipment they need is a tape measure, marker objects, a bit of board, and a pen. It really is that basic. It’s how it’s used that counts.
  • It features a step-by-step guide to allow them to easily self-assess their lighting levels around all their grounds. This isn’t as difficult as it may appear. But if they use the wrong equipment, take readings at the wrong time of day, or in the wrong places, all their work will be for nothing. So, the guide also highlights all the common mistakes they need to avoid.
  • Plus, it lets them know what they have to do to improve their lighting. If it’s needed.
Why best-in-class LED lighting is so important for athletics clubs

There are many advantages of improved lighting around athletics. The key benefits can be summarised as:

  • Reduced energy costs. We’ve cut energy bills by up to 70% for some clients when switching their old metal halide floodlights for LED ones. In a world where the bottom line is being squeezed harder and harder this can only be a good thing.
  • Less maintenance. With the cost of bulbs, the equipment needed to fit them, staff time and costs, not to mention downtime, maintaining traditional metal halide athletics floodlighting systems isn’t cheap. Another ‘plus’ for a club’s bottom line when they switch to LED floodlighting. Also, just imagine what it’d do for a club’s reputation if its system were to go down mid-meeting. This won’t happen with an LED system.
  • Greatly extended opening hours. Clubs will be able to keep their facilities open for longer. This can lead to increased revenue and help attract new members too.
  • Improved safety and security. Failing to meet health and safety regulations can cost clubs a great deal if there’s an accident that could have been avoided. Security issues can cause a host of problems for clubs too – personal and financial.
  • Making sure a club’s lighting is compliant with national and international regulations. If a club’s facilities aren’t up to scratch, especially the lighting, it can cause them all sorts of issues. They could mean removal from a league… records not being allowed to count… the list goes on.
  • Reduce light pollution. Our athletics LED floodlights spill less light around surrounding areas. This is something a club’s neighbours will greatly appreciate.
  • Future-proofing a club’s lighting for years to come. Our LED floodlighting systems are versatile and easily adaptable. So if things change, for example, new regulations being introduced or a club being promoted to a new league, our LED lighting can quickly be upgraded without the need to ‘scrap’ everything and start all over.
  • Achieving the lighting levels needed to host a televised event. If a club is invited to hold an event that’s going to be broadcast, it needs the perfect lighting to do it. This need can be built into our lighting designs for the very start. Or we can easily install a temporary, portable upgrade to meet the levels required.

As you can see there are lots of compelling reasons why an athletics club should upgrade to Midstream’s world-beating LED lighting.

James Brunt, Director of Sports, Midstream Lighting.

James heads up our Sports Lighting Division. With 16 years’ industry experience, spanning the delivery of grassroots facilities all the way through to world-class sporting stadiums, James is a trusted advisor throughout the industry and recognised for his unrivalled expertise.

Midstream Lighting