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Sports Arenas Pick Up LEDs

October 11, 2013 By Leon Walker

Bell

NHL franchise the Montreal Canadiens and MLB team the Seattle Mariners are two professional sports teams experimenting with LED lighting as a means of cutting their energy bills and adding flexibility to their lighting, reports The New York Times.

The Canadiens’ home, the Bell Center, last year installed 140 LED fixtures to light its playing surface. The LEDs produce three times as much light per watt than the high intensity discharge lamps they replaced and will save the venue $125,000 a year in electricity bills, the paper reports.

Alain Gauthier, who runs the Bell Centre, expects a return on investment in two years.

This summer, the Mariners worked with PlanLED to replace fluorescent lights with LEDs in the team’s locker room, but energy efficiency was not the primary driver behind this move. The Mariners hope that by brightening or dimming the new locker room lights, they might be able to help players overcome jet lag, become energized before games or cool down afterwards, the paper reports.

However, other sports venues have been less enthusiastic about LEDs. For all their energy guzzling, incandescent lamps are still better at illuminating wide spaces – like a sports venue – than LEDs, the paper reports. Sean Langer, director of operations at the KFC Yum Center, in Louisvile, Ky., home of the University of Louisville basketball, told the NY Times that the initial outlay is often a major barrier to investment, despite the long term savings.

High intensity discharge lights in New Orleans’ Superdome contributed to the length of the play delay at last season’s Super Bowl, according to the US Energy Information Administration. After the power outage during the game, 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 percent brightness, according to the EIA.

Picture credit: Fleurdelisé, via Wikipedia.



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