Give Lumens A Checkup

Consistent, quality routine maintenance proves to have a tangible effect on extending the life of lamps. According to the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America’s Sports and Recreational Lighting Manual (IESNA RP-6-01), “With proper maintenance, the overall performance of the lighting installation can be greatly improved.” It goes on to clarify: “more light delivered per dollar, better energy management, pride of ownership, improved morale, [and] potential for reduced capital investment.” In general, at the time of design, a light installation should have a maintenance manual prepared. If one was not prepared or cannot be found, it is never too late to organize a maintenance schedule.

A good place to start is with the manufacturer. There are specific recommendations regarding the maintenance and replacement of lamps. Following the guidelines also can help with attempts to recoup money from bad lamps. Additionally, a manufacturer will have specifics on the frequency and types of maintenance practices necessary to keep lamps performing at their best.

In the meantime, here are some general practices for maintaining tennis-court lamps:

· Remove dust using a damp cloth (this also will help eliminate static electricity when cleaning the lenses).

· Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

· Never handle lamps with bare hands, as the oil from your skin can greatly reduce the efficiency and life of a lamp.

· Follow the maintenance schedule originally created for the lamps at installation, or create your own. It is a fact that regularly cleaned lamps outperform those that are not by up to 30 percent.

· Keep accurate records of cleaning, maintenance and replacement schedules.

According to Gary Gordon, Director of Field Service with Musco Lighting, “A yearly inspection, or routine maintenance program, can be very beneficial to any sports-lighting system. It can bring any unforeseen issues with the facility to the attention of the maintenance staff, especially after long periods of idle time during winter months.”

It is also a good idea to check the luminary aiming during maintenance to ensure that the installation continues to perform as originally designed. Light structures can shift and/or sag over time, moving the light off the court and creating possible dead spots. If you have ever had a player tell you about dead spots on the courts, it may not be the intensity of the lamp, but the direction of its focus.

Simplifying The Process

When developing a maintenance schedule, consider the type of equipment necessary to do the work. Many times the proper equipment (crane/boom trucks with buckets) to perform maintenance and replace lamps is not readily accessible. This can sometimes create difficult–if not impossible–decisions for facility managers. Lamps mounted in groups on high towers also make a challenging situation: they may be difficult to reach, but should be considered when replacing one lamp to replace them all. The frequency of group replacement will depend on the type of lamp, economic viability and the overall condition of the surrounding lamps in the installation.

Record-keeping is an important part of maintaining court lighting at specific levels. For example, by keeping track of each court’s light use, it can be more readily determined if a lamp has aged properly, or if there are other forces at work shortening its expected life. More often than not, this type of record-keeping is already being done. Most tennis facilities have a system by which they place patrons on the courts. This same system can be utilized to review and evaluate court lighting use. With many parks departments tightening already reduced budgets, don’t lose money on lights simply by not researching and tracking them. I recall standing on a tennis court with my staff many years ago, debating when we had installed various lights. It was a healthy discussion, but one that left me puzzled and confused. Some of the major items to review are:

· Dates that lamps are replaced and/or installed

· Maintenance (scheduled and otherwise)

· Lamp use

· Manufacturer warranties.

Keeping accurate records will help recoup some of the costs associated with operating tennis-court lights. A general rule of thumb is that most light installations lose at least 10 percent output per year through lack of cleaning and maintenance. Why be a part of a statistic that ultimately takes dollars out of the budget? Make the maintenance of tennis-court lights a part of a routine maintenance schedule.

Steve Yeskulsky is a CPRP currently working in the parks and recreation industry in Sarasota, Fla. He can be reached via e-mail at

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  1. A Moment Of Clarity
  2. A Living Legend
  3. From The Ground Up
  4. Dress Up Tennis Courts
  5. On The Surface

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