Proactive Maintenance

“Some are actually asking if the lighting can be operated in a manner similar to systems one is used to finding on tennis courts, in which the athlete who is using the facility can actually turn the lights on and off for himself or herself. Some of these lighting systems will actually stay on for just so long until engaged again, and/or they turn off at a certain time.”


Something else to remember about lighting and safety is it’s not just about on vs. off, or working vs. burned-out.

A lamp in a lighting system, when new, produces a certain amount (known as a level) of illumination. (It is at its brightest when new, in other words). Over time, the amount of light produced by the lamp decreases. This phenomenon is known as the Light Loss Factor, or LLF.

Most manufacturers count on 20- to 40-percent depreciation. Climatic conditions, dust and dirt, voltage variations, luminaire design, and the amount and quality of maintenance will affect the level of depreciation.

Rather than waiting to see if the facility’s lighting system is functioning well, consider testing it periodically. Light levels are measured using a tool known as a light meter. Light meters are available fairly inexpensively at industrial supply stores.

In using the light meter:

• Hold it the correct distance from the surface of the field, court, or other facility.

• Take readings in all the essential places in the facility where athletes will play.

• Adhere to the standards set for the specific type of sport the facility will be hosting.

If you encounter variances from the standards, call a lighting contractor for recommendations.

Remember that the facility represents a huge investment of time, and is important to the camp. You want to keep it–not to mention all those who use it–as safe as possible.

Do a night walk-through every week or so. Look for lights that might be out or in dark, shadowy areas where players might feel unsafe–anything that needs fixing, really–and have the problem addressed immediately.

Keeping a safe facility–and therefore, an even more attractive one–will pay dividends in years to come.

Mary Helen Sprecher has been a technical writer for more than 20 years with the American Sports Builders Association. She has written on various topics relating to sports-facility design, construction and supply, as well as sports medicine, education, and health and industrial issues. She is an avid racquetball and squash player, and a full-time newspaper reporter in Baltimore, Md.

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