Efficient, High Wattage Lamps Used In Stadiums, Arenas

eiaEditor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Most sports stadiums and indoor arenas use high intensity discharge (HID) lamps for almost all of their overhead lighting needs. On average, stadium lights have much higher wattage than other outdoor lighting applications such as billboards, roadways, and parking lots. While HID lamps are very efficient, they require significant time to warm up and achieve full brightness after being extinguished. This characteristic contributed to the length of the delay in last Sunday’s Super Bowl game after a power disruption knocked out some of the stadium lighting in the Superdome.

Graph of lighting inventory by subsector, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Department of Energy Lighting Market Characterization.

According to a 2012 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) study, 17% of all U.S. lighting energy consumption is used outdoors, and 83% of outdoor lighting consumption comes from HID lamps. Unlike other lighting types, which can be found in a wide range of applications, HID lamps are generally limited to outdoor, warehouse, and industrial use because of their high levels of light output.

For instance, a 60-watt incandescent lamp (or an equivalent compact fluorescent using only about 14 watts) will produce about 800 lumens of light output per lamp. Most residential and commercial applications only need each lamp to provide light levels in the range of about 800 to 4,000 lumens per lamp, but HID lamps can provide more than 15,000 lumens per lamp, making them suitable for places like sports stadiums, factories, and warehouses, where large areas need lots of light. Other lighting types, such as light-emitting diode (LED), incandescent, and halogen lamps, are used in applications like signals, signage, and other general illumination.

High levels of light output require a lot of energy. But HID lights are about as efficient, if not more efficient, than other lighting types on a lumens-per-watt basis. As seen below, HID lights provide 75 lumens of light per watt—making them more efficient than some other lighting types that are also used in outdoor applications.

Graph of lighting types, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Department of Energy Lighting Market Characterization.

One disadvantage of high intensity discharge lights is their long warm-up and restrike times. As millions of viewers witnessed, last Sunday’s Super Bowl had a 34-minute outage. The New Orleans Superdome uses metal halide lights, a type of HID lamp, as its main overhead lighting in the arena. After the power outage during the Super Bowl, it took several minutes for power to be restored and then more time for the lights to restrike, or achieve full brightness after being extinguished. Because of the way the lamps work, restrike times are often longer than initial warm-up times and can take 5-20 minutes to achieve 90% brightness. According to the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, some types of metal halide HID lamps use a different starting mechanism that can cut warm-up times down to 1-4 minutes and restrike times to 2-8 minutes.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.

    • Mary Ellis

      Excellent post, thanks for sharing so interesting news and I am sure after this incident more and more stadiums arenas are going to use high wattage lamps.

    • BarbRosa

      The LED lumens/watt listed is ridiculously out of date.

      • http://www.facebook.com/petedanko Pete Danko

        Wouldn’t surprise me; the study from which the piece is sourced came out in Jan 2012, covering the 2010 market.

        • BarbRosa

          Prolly tough to get more current figures for a study that large. But the past three years have been huge for LED efficacy. I don’t run into many people still promoting HID lamps as an energy friendly solution any more.