Lighting The Path

Without proper outdoor lighting, the batter can’t see the ball. The lover trips on a rock and misses the kiss. Families don’t feel safe and visit less often. And the neighbors complain.

Good lighting adds character and charm to your site. It increases the good will of your neighbors, invites more traffic and, ultimately, adds to the bottom line.

But before calling the bank or organizing fund-raisers, before advertising, before writing to suppliers or signing any checks, make a list of lighting problems that need solved. Here are four illuminating points to consider:

· Safety

· Cost for durability and maintenance

· Lighting types and purposes

· Environmental issues


Sometimes a well-lit area gives people a false sense of security. In the report “Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Promising–NJRS report to Congress 1997,” the correlation between crime and lighting was studied. “Lighting has received considerable attention. Yet, evaluation designs are weak and the results are mixed. We can have very little confidence that improved lighting prevents crime, particularly since we do not know if offenders use lighting to their advantage. In the absence of better theories about when and where lighting can be effective and rigorous evaluations of plausible lighting interventions, we cannot make any scientific assertions regarding the effectiveness of lighting. In short, the effectiveness of lighting is unknown.”

Although this report won’t help you sleep better, there is more to light than prevention of crime. For instance, safety should be considered. Visitors will avoid a place that doesn’t “feel safe.” A well-lit area is used more, whether it is actually safer or not.

However, safety is more than crime. Poor illumination on dangerous terrain that is open to the public at night is an accident waiting to happen. Good lighting keeps visitors alerted to cliff edges. It also unveils more common “dangerous terrain.” For example, a tree root in the parking lot and the corners of metal bleachers need good lighting. The correct “candle” lighting is a safety factor for sporting activities.

Cost For Durability And Maintenance

Cost is not limited to design, installation and hardware. Perpetual lighting costs vary as much as your guests. Will the chosen lighting be available five years from now when you expand the parking lot? Low ground lighting is a beautiful design element, but will it hold up against the insult of 20 dogs a day?

If the lights are cheap and dirty, they will probably need replacing soon. That will cost you. If the system is wonderful and addresses the problems, but maintenance people can’t figure it out, that costs money, too.

Chad Hyde is the Athletics Manager for Carollton, Texas. This city of 118,000 recently replaced and added lighting on 30 athletic fields. “Our lights were outdated and inefficient,” says Hyde, “and we went through and did a study on all the costs. We replaced every light in our city fields with their (Musco Lighting) light structure green sports lighting. Our foot candles on the fields weren’t meeting the standards of our association. For example, for Little League Baseball, the foot candles have to have a certain amount of light in the infields–which we knew we weren’t meeting–so we had to do something to bring standards up.” Some of the fields in Carollton had light poles with 18 lights that were re-engineered to hold six. Hyde says, “We’re seeing a big cost savings just in electricity.”

Further savings were found in recycling. Musco reused the old light poles and electrical wires, manufactured new brackets and racks, and installed their new lights on top of the old poles.

Carollton purchased a 25-year warranty from Musco. “They come out and take care of everything,” says Hyde.

In addition, the park lighting system upgrade allowed the city to transition from timers–which can be unreliable–to computers. Hyde is satisfied with Musco’s computerized light control. “We control all the schedules online or by the phone. They have a 24 hour 7 days a week call center. So if I’m at home and lights are left on in the middle of the night for any reason, we can call and Musco will shut them off for us. We can track all the usage. We can see who turns them on, who turns them off. If we forget to schedule, we can call on the cell phone, and they’re on immediately.”

Lighting Types And Purposes

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