Blog: Dome Stories
They’re not exactly Jurassic. But metal halide bulbs and fixtures seem to be the aging dinosaur in dome lighting. More and more newly-constructed sports domes are using LED fixtures.
“For a long time, metal halides were all we had,” says Steve Flanagan of Yeadon Fabric Domes. “But I haven’t built a dome with metal halide fixtures in well over a year.”
Metal halide lamps have been used to illuminate athletic facilities, fields and air-inflated sports domes for decades. However, the lights come with baggage. Literally. A ballast is required to contain the flow of current. Ceiling-mounted lamps need more power cords that add extra weight.
Depending on usage, a metal halide lamp can last about 2,000 hours before replacement. That doesn’t hold a (foot) candle to LED’s. LED bulbs can last upwards of 100,000 hours – which means the maintenance of replacing them is significantly less.
Perhaps the biggest attraction to LED’s is their energy output – or lack of it. They consume about 50% less electricity than a traditional 1000w metal halide. Yet they don’t compromise on brightness or illumination. As a result, a facility that exclusively uses LED’s will save money on the lighting bill.
Besides energy savings, LED fixtures have come down in price. “LED’s are half what they used to be,” says Flanagan. “So now you can get much better quality and efficiency for the price.”
LED’s have another money-savings benefit. Because the bulbs last so much longer, fewer maintenance hours are required to change them. The multiple benefits mean that LED upgrades pay for themselves in a relatively short amount of time.
The University of Minnesota’s Energy Management department began swapping metal halide for LED’s a few years ago. They’ll continue the practice when they upgrade the lights in their inflatable sports dome this Fall. Energy Management estimated more than a 50% energy savings with every bulb that was switched.
Air-inflated dome owners who are looking for savings should consider a lighting package upgrade to LED’s. “Once we determine an appropriate light level for your dome, we’ll create a photo-metric layout to get you what you need,” Flanagan said. With dome fixtures that are just as bright, but lighter-weight, less maintenance and more energy-stingy, LED is definitely more Jedi than Jurassic.
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