Sports field and hard-court lighting

Sports field and hard-court lighting are significant infrastructure investments that your organisation may use to deliver your activities and enable future growth.

Lighting infrastructure should be custom designed using the latest software and technology to be as cost-effective and energy efficient as possible to meet your lighting/illumination needs.

Good lighting:

  • provides safe and enjoyable facilities for competitors and spectators at night, resulting in happier players and supporters
  • offers greater programming flexibility and the ability to maximise your income potential through optimal facility use 
  • reduces your energy costs
  • gives you convenient control over site illumination.

If you're looking to upgrade or install new sports field or hard-court lighting at your community facility, it is important you consider the following information before you apply to Council, as landlord, to undertake the works.

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Pre-planning - what to consider

It is critical you undertake adequate pre-planning to ascertain if a sports field or hard-court lighting project is needed or appropriate and to clarify the works required.

Is it a lighting changeover, upgrade, or new installation you require?

A lighting upgrade may be required due to change in the Australian Standards, governing body standards, co-location of another sport requiring a higher standard of lighting, or your organisation moving toward a higher level of competition.

The first step is to determine if your proposed lighting project is feasible by reviewing your current situation, site suitability, lighting needs, potential benefits, and resources required. The table below outlines some things you should do.

This table includes the pre-planning considerations for sports field and hard-court lighting projects.
Undertake a site analysis

Audit your existing lighting infrastructure and energy supply. 

If the area proposed for lighting works is already lit for sports use, audit the existing lighting (lux) levels, condition and carrying capacity of the poles, electrical infrastructure (transformer, switchboard, cables, conduits, and capacity of your Energex mains supply and meter).

You will need to measure the current maximum demand of the site (via a tong test by a licenced electrician) to determine current usage and your site's capacity for any upgrades or modifications.

Consider the site conditions and any potential constraints (e.g. being located on a closed landfill site, within a flood zone, or having protected trees).

Check the Brisbane City Plan classification to identify any restrictions.

Check the Australian Standard in relation to use times, not just your lease permitted hours of use. 

Determine if there is potential for spill lighting (e.g. light that falls outside the area intended to be lit) and proximity to any neighbouring properties.

Determine your lighting needs

What are you trying to achieve?

Which areas require a lighting upgrade or installation and how will they be used (e.g. what types of sport/s or activities, level of competition to be played, spectator needs)?

Consider the varying and potentially conflicting requirements of individual sports if you have, or are wanting to create, a multi-sport facility.

Anticipated benefits

Who will benefit from the upgrade or installation, where and how?

What future opportunities will it provide (e.g. higher level of competition, night training, increased participant capacity, or another type of activity)?

Undertake a return on investment analysis

Undertake a return on investment (ROI) analysis to determine the gain from the proposed investment relative to its cost by considering:

  • potential increased use, ability to meet community needs, facility flexibility
  • additional income versus initial capital cost
  • increased ongoing energy, maintenance, and management costs
  • replacement requirements and costs (sinking fund contribution required)
  • any risks 
  • safety of participants
  • anticipated impact on the future of your organisation.
Timing When do you need it done?
Potential impact on operations Consider your season/s and facility availability timeframes and any potential impact your lighting project may have on current operations and how you will manage this (e.g. if all works can't be completed during your off-season, you may need to reschedule games or use another venue.)
Determine the resources and expertise required to deliver the project

Determine if your organisation has the resources and expertise to deliver the project and maintain the assets.

  • How will you fund the project?
  • Who will manage the project?
  • Do you have the capacity to finance not only the installation but also the ongoing maintenance and replacement costs?

Consider if it is possible to stage the project.

If grant funding is required, consider the timeframes for applying, when you will find out if you're successful, and what you will do if you are unsuccessful.

It is also important to consider the approvals and certifications required as well as Australian Standards which must be met.

The decision to install or upgrade sports field or hard-court lighting should be made in consultation with all user groups, Council, and the relevant sport's governing body/s.

If you are looking to stage your project, or plan to upgrade further in the future, it is worth investing in the necessary infrastructure such as light poles in the first instance, to reduce your total costs and any potential duplication of works.

Once you have completed your pre-planning, you can determine if your proposed lighting project is feasible and worth pursuing.

Engage a specialist

The upgrade or installation of new sports field or hard-court lighting can be a significant project to plan and manage.

It is a specialist field of work requiring the services of professionals such as electrical and structural engineers and lighting designers. If not planned precisely, your lighting design and completed installation may not meet the necessary standards required to meet your organisation's insurance and regulatory obligations.

It is highly recommended you:

  • appoint an experienced project manager to ensure your project is delivered on time and within budget
  • use an experienced sports lighting company to ensure a quality outcome and avoid any costly mistakes.

Early consultation with an experienced and qualified lighting designer and installation company is essential.

Obtain approval

As a community facility tenant, you must apply for Council approval, as landlord, prior to undertaking any works on your site.

Depending on the level of change proposed to existing facilities and project complexity, it is highly recommended you first apply for in-principle support during the initial stage of your project by providing a scope of works and concept plan. Once you obtain Council's in-principle support, you can then invest in more detailed lighting, electrical and footing designs to apply to Council for final approval.

If you receive Council approval as landlord, you will also be advised of other approvals that may be required such as development approval (DA) or building approval (BA). DA is advice that a particular use or development may proceed on a specific parcel of land, whereas BA relates to the method of construction to ensure it complies with relevant standards. Often new sports field or hard-court lighting will require DA, whilst an upgrade to existing lighting may not. It is important to note that some projects may not require a DA, but may still require a BA (e.g. to install light poles).

Make sure you obtain advice before you apply for landlord approval by phoning Council on 07 3403 8888 to discuss your proposed lighting project.

Australian Standards and certifications

All electrical and lighting works are required to be compliant with all applicable Australian Standards, codes, and local authority requirements.

Each sport has a relevant Australian Standard detailing the lighting levels required to ensure insurance and regulatory requirements are met.

Refer to Australian Standard 2560.2:2021 series for sports lighting and the relevant sporting code requirements. There are different lighting levels required for training and competition for each sport. Confirm with your regional, state, or national sports governing body any requirements above the Australian Standard, such as any additional distance requirements from the playing field boundary, or height and configuration of the poles to meet requirements.

Standards

Lighting installations must comply with the following standards as a minimum:

  • AS/NZS3000 - Wiring
  • AS4282 - Control of obtrusive effects of outdoor lighting (as specified in the technical requirements section)
  • AS2560.2:2021 - Sports lighting series
  • AS3600 Concrete structures (where applicable)
  • AS1798 - Lighting poles and bracket arms (where applicable)
  • National Construction Code (where applicable)
  • AS/NZS2053 - Conduits and fittings for electrical installations
  • AS/NZS2648 - Underground marking tape
  • Queensland Electrical Connection and Metering Manual
  • AS/NZS3017 - Electrical installation - verification guidelines
  • Electrical Safety Act.

Certifications

In general, the following signatories, forms, and compliance statements are required.

Lighting designs must be prepared, and signed design and installation certifications provided, by a suitably qualified sports field lighting designer who is a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand with a minimum grade of MEIS or a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) - Electrical. The signed lighting design and installation certifications must state compliance with the following standards:

  • AS/NZ 4282:2019 - Control of obtrusive effects of outdoor lighting with Level 1 control (Level 2 control should not be used) at all site boundaries, including consideration of scatter light and glare to neighbouring properties and roads
  • AS2560.2:2021 - Sports lighting series as applicable to sport/s.

All lighting should also be designed for compliance with the relevant environmental zone.

Electrical systems must be installed and signed off by a Registered Electrical Contractor Queensland (RECQ) - Electrical providing an electrical safety certificate stating compliance with AS/NZSE3000 (wiring rules).

New electrical installations or significant modification to existing electrical installation (e.g. new sub-mains, point of supply, wiring, switchboards, pits and conduits) must be provided and certified by a RPEQ - Electrical.

To ensure lighting poles and foundations are adequate for site conditions, you need a Form 15 (for design) for lighting poles and foundations report signed by a RPEQ - Structural stating compliance with:

  • AS3600 - Concrete structures (each pole/foundations)
  • AS1798 - Lighting poles and bracket arms (each pole and light mounting bracket).

If you are planning to use existing light poles and foundations, you will still need to provide a Form 15 (for design) signed by an RPEQ - Structural confirming the light poles and foundations are adequate.

Once constructed, a Form 16 for as built/as installed (measured compliance) stating compliance with AS1798 to verify independent certification for every pole and foundation installed is required to prove all works were undertaken in accordance with all Australian Standards.

Handover documents

In addition to the appropriate certifications, your electrical contractor should provide:

  • labelling of all equipment and cables including distribution boards, circuit breakers, wiring, controls and luminaires
  • an updated or new laminated circuit schedule inside the distribution board
  • as-installed drawings
  • test certificates in accordance with Section 8 of AS/NZS3000 and AS/NZS3017.

Technical requirements

Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting technology must be used for all upgrades and new lighting developments.

All luminaires are to be supplied by a member of the Lighting Council of Australia who has a local presence in Queensland and be from a supplier registered and listed on the National Database of the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council.

All luminaires should be Type C distribution which is more effective at reducing glare and in general, have a correlated colour temperature of 5000k.

All designers, installers, and maintainers endorse and encourage the use of LED lighting technology. LED lights are an effective solution for sports lighting, floodlighting, recreation lighting, and many other applications.

LED lights offer numerous benefits including:

  • reliability
  • instant full brightness (no warm-up or cool-down period)
  • precision aiming with minimised glare
  • dimming and lighting level adjustment capabilities
  • increased energy efficiency
  • wireless control capability
  • easy to retrofit onto existing infrastructure
  • long lifespan
  • reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

All fittings should have test results from a National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA) recognised testing laboratory.

All lighting sub-circuits must be residual-current device (RCD) protected.

Developing lighting, electrical and footing designs

If you determine, after undertaking appropriate pre-planning, your proposed lighting project is feasible, you then need to get a lighting, electrical, and footings (if applicable) design developed and certified by a qualified sports field lighting designer, who is either a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand with a minimum grade of MIES or Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ).

The lighting design is critical and should be carefully considered, to demonstrate compliance with all relevant standards, be tailored to your needs, and provide maximum efficiency and performance. The design stage is where you should ensure you achieve good energy efficiency, address dark spots, and unacceptable glare.

Quantity and quality of light

The quantity and quality of light needed are key aspects to consider when designing a lighting solution.

The quantity of light is measured as an average lux level. For sports fields, the lux level required is determined by the Australian Standards (AS2560.2: 2021). The lux levels required increase in relation to the type of activity and standard of play to be delivered.

The quality of light is measured by the degree of light uniformity across the area wherein the lighting is even and there are no overly bright or dark spots. The full volume of the field of play should be illuminated evenly to create equal playing conditions and a consistent level of visibility.

Tailor the lighting design to meet your quantity and quality requirements and use custom aiming devices to ensure the light angles are correct to create the best outcome.

It is also important to ensure the as-new performance of the lights is high enough to guarantee your required lighting levels are still met when all system degrading factors have taken effect.

Lighting and footing design considerations

Consider the following aspects when developing lighting and footing designs.

This table includes the lighting and footing design considerations for sports field and hard-court lighting.
Areas to be lit

Specify the exact area/s of the site to be lit on an aerial base site map including field/s, additional safety or run-off zones, overflow activity areas, and other non-participation areas such as pathways and spectator areas.

Lighting levels, usage patterns and multi-use

Determine the desired lighting levels for each area.

Consider the lighting needs of both existing and potential future users and the specific requirements of each activity to be delivered.

Lighting should be designed to meet the highest level of competition and/or sport requirements to be catered for, whilst enabling reduced levels or varying configurations to minimise energy consumption and reduce running costs (e.g. varying levels and areas for competition, training, maintenance, and cleaning).

Any degrading factors such as lens and reflector dirt should be considered in any design calculations to achieve and maintain the desired illuminance levels.

Consider your expected usage patterns (e.g. periods of time on and frequency) and clearly communicate this. Most manufacturers base the average life of lamps on a three-hour 'on' operation, but some use a 10 hour 'on' formula (not practical in a sports use setting).

Light spill and avoiding neighbour impacts

Measures should be taken to limit and control glare that may affect the visual performance of participants or have any impacts on surrounding neighbours or other critical infrastructure.

A lighting spill plan is required to demonstrate compliance with Level 1 control of AS4282:2019 at all site boundaries, including consideration of scatter light and glare to neighbouring properties and roads.

The lighting plan should identify if rear shields are also required to be fitted to the lights. 

The aiming of lights has a major impact on performance and should only be done using specialist equipment.

Ensure the set aiming positions are recorded in case you need to re-aim the light in the future (e.g. after a storm).

Ground conditions and soil testing

If your project involves the installation of new light poles or relocation of existing poles, geotechnical testing (soil analysis) must be undertaken at the proposed location of each light pole to confirm the suitability of the footing design. This should be done in conjunction with a structural engineer advising on the pole foundation designs.

Generally, sports field lighting companies rely on a minimum soil bearing capacity when quoting on works involving light poles or a change in lights that may impact the weight-bearing capacity of the light poles.

If you have contaminated or poor soil conditions (e.g. sandy soil profile), this can significantly impact the foundations and earthworks required, resulting in additional construction costs. The location of asbestos, rock, or concrete during construction will also increase costs. 

If the proposed works are in an area with flood inundation potential, this will impact the types of equipment used, mounting, and control gear heights.

Light poles

Ensure your chosen configuration provides for future upgrades (if required), is appropriately offset from the playing boundary (check the governing requirements for your sport), and is cost-efficient.

Sports fields can be lit by a greater number of shorter poles or fewer taller poles.

Extra poles on landfill sites will increase costs due to footing requirements. A cost-benefit analysis should be undertaken to determine the preferred approach.

If you want to reuse or relocate existing poles, you still need certification from a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) to confirm the reuse/relocation of the poles is feasible and their structural capacity is suitable for the weight and sail area of the new lights.

Check the height of existing poles as many older posts don't meet current Australian Standards.

Vegetation

Consider any vegetation that may be within or near the area to be lit.

Will the vegetation be impacted, require removal, or create shading of the lights in the future? The lighting design must not use vegetation to conform to AS/NZ4282:2019.

To prevent the future 'shading' of the lights, the positioning of poles should avoid vegetation.

Power supply, sub-meters, and external powerpoints

Determine if a new or upgraded Energex mains supply and meter is required to meet your lighting needs.

Measure the current maximum demand of the site against the future maximum demand once the new equipment has been installed to ensure that your site has a sufficient energy supply. This will need to be done via tong test by a licensed electrician, with calculations done by an electrical engineer.

This should be considered from the outset to ensure supply requirements can be met. A change in supply can have a major impact on your project costs and delivery timeframes. 

Consider if you need a separate sub-meter/s installed for billing purposes.

Do you need or want to be able to record your electricity consumption (e.g. by different activities/user groups, or separate electricity used in the building/s from the sports field/s)?

If you do need to change your power supply, ensure you contact Energex as early as possible to arrange for this to be done.

Consider whether any external power points at the base of the light poles or on switchboards are required, and if so, how many and where they need to be located.

Staging Determine if your proposed lighting upgrade or installation will be staged and the desired outcomes of each stage. If you are staging the installation, make sure each stage meets all Australian Standards and certification requirements for the activities being delivered.

Lighting controls

A key element of a good lighting design is having effective lighting controls.

Lighting controllers play a critical role in lighting systems by assisting you to save on electricity costs and enabling convenient control and management of your lighting.

Lighting controls enable users to program and manage lighting manually or automatically to control:

  • the amount of light (intensity) depending on the activity requirements (e.g. different lux levels to suit each activity and type of use such as training versus competition)
  • where the light is produced (e.g. zoning of luminaries to controllers so lights can be switched into different configurations)
  • when light is needed (e.g. set individual lights to go on and off at different times, set lockout times, automatic light reduction, and turn off).

Lighting controllers can also provide you with the ability to:

  • operate the lights securely via any Wi-Fi-enabled device such as a smartphone
  • control the lighting, so you only use the right level at the right time and location
  • avoid unnecessary energy consumption and neighbour complaints
  • measure your energy consumption and produce reports to provide information on how your lights are performing
  • set monitoring and alarm features.

By reducing lighting on time, intensity, or zoning, lighting controls reduce energy consumption resulting in reduced operating costs. Lighting controllers can tailor the lighting quality for each type of sport or activity.

The system you select should allow several different combinations to be as energy efficient as possible.

You can install lighting system controllers without having to upgrade your sports field lights.

Consider the following aspects when deciding on your sports field lighting control needs.

This table includes considerations to help you decide on your sports field lighting control needs.
Varying light needs and uses

Consider switching the lights into different configurations to reduce unnecessary expenses and cater for a range of uses (e.g. light only half a field, or have different lux levels for training versus competition).

Do you want to be able to set individual lights to go on and off at different times, set lockout times, and have automatic light reduction and turn-off features?

Location of switchboard and lighting control box

Consider where the site switchboard and lighting control box are best located. Bear in mind the need for future access by electricians or organisation personnel, proximity to exit points, and accessibility to other user groups.

Light switching mechanisms Consider your preferred light switching mechanism (e.g. traditional switches, electronic control, mobile phone app control) and if you need a push-button timer to assist the exit of the last person.
Access to lighting controls

Based on the usage of the facility, what is your preferred lighting controls access (e.g. padlock/key access or PIN pad entry)?

Who do you want to have access and how?

Consider the potential future need or opportunity to provide access to other user groups whilst managing the access to other facilities.

Additional equipment and costs Various apps and software support the implementation of effective lighting control systems. Consider if any other equipment will be required or ongoing costs involved to use the system, such as a laptop or SIM card access.

Developing a scope of works

It is important to clearly define your project and provide a scope of works including all outcomes and timeframes for the contractors to quote on so you can easily compare them and select the best provider to undertake the works.

Consider the following aspects when preparing a scope of works for contractors to quote on.

This table includes aspects for consideration when preparing a scope of works for sports field and hard-court lighting.
Timing The preferred timing for the works. Aim to avoid peak usage periods of the facility to reduce the level of disruption to your operations and potential impact on revenue, as well as other user groups.
Lighting and footings design

Provide the contractors with your electrical/lighting design including pole types, size, height, locations, desired lux levels and required light fittings to ensure you obtain accurate and comparable quotes. The lighting design should also detail all switching mechanisms and lighting controls, including access points.

If appropriate, provide your site-specific footings design.

Also, provide the results of geotechnical testing (soil analysis) at each new pole location and/or if you plan to use your existing light poles, provide evidence they meet requirements. If you have not yet undertaken geotechnical testing or had a footings design prepared, get the contractor to include this work in their quote.

Energy supply If a new or upgraded Energex mains supply and meter are required, the Energex fees should be included in the contractor's costings.
Electrical infrastructure Detail all electrical infrastructure required (e.g. switchboards, external power points, sub-meters, cables).
Waste removal and disposal

Ensure the contractors recognise and include the cost to remove and dispose of any excess soil or other spoil, tree trimming (if approved) and any existing lighting infrastructure that is to be removed as part of the works.

Bear in mind, the removal and disposal of soil from a closed landfill site can cost significantly more.

Rectification works

The rectification of any damage to sports fields or construction access points should be included in the contractor's quote and scope of works.

Be mindful the rectification of damaged playing surfaces can take eight weeks or more until usage can resume.

Liability period and warranty Request details of the defects liability period the contractor will be responsible for replacing faulty components (usually 12 months) and the warranty details for all poles, fittings and fixtures installed.
Compliance, certification and documentation

All works must comply with Australian Standards.

Quotes from contractors should confirm their intent to provide fully compliant systems at no extra cost during the design or construction phase.

The contactor must provide final certification of any footings, electrical modifications or upgrades, poles, and final commissioning of the lights. This should include lux plots across the field/s or hard courts for all lighting levels, and certification by an independent lighting engineer to verify the installation meets all Australian Standards and the requirements of all relevant sport/s governing bodies.

All as-constructed documentation should also be provided.

Operation and maintenance manuals

The contractor should also quote on and provide any user instructions and relevant diagrammatic 'how to' guides such as light switching. Keep this information in the switchboard.

A maintenance manual should also be developed at the time of installation to refer to and inform your asset management plan to ensure the longevity and performance of the lights. This should include a policy for lamp replacement and cleaning procedures.

Ongoing costs and maintenance responsibilities

When looking to upgrade or install new sports field or hard-court lighting, it is critical to carefully consider the cost of not only the installation but also the lifecycle of the assets, their replacement costs, and ongoing maintenance requirements such as servicing.

Undertake a financial assessment to determine:

  • cleaning and maintenance schedules and associated costs
  • lamp rated life in hours
  • the cost of running the lights at each lighting level ($ per kilowatt)
  • the lifecycle of all infrastructure including the lamps, their replacement cost, including labour and any other associated costs.

Check your organisation's annual electricity consumption. Consider the cost of your electricity as a result of your lighting project and your subsequent additional usage. Some retailers charge higher rates for customers considered to be 'larger consumers' (normally consumption over 100 megawatts per annum).

To ensure your lighting installation operates at its maximum efficiency throughout its lifecycle:

  • implement an appropriate cleaning and maintenance schedule
  • only use an appropriately qualified electrical/lighting maintenance company to undertake such works.

Be aware that lamps often require replacement at the end of their design performance life, which is normally well before their ultimate end of life.

Ensure your organisation increases its facility sinking fund to cover the cost of maintenance and replacement of the new lighting assets and adjust any related insurance policies.

Project management tips

Before your lighting works commence

Ensure you have all the necessary approvals in place and qualified persons to undertake your installation.

Take photos of your facility in its pre-construction condition, especially areas where construction vehicles are likely to access or where vegetation may be impacted.

Meet with the contractor/s to confirm:

  • access times and site security including the use of access codes/keys, access to additional facilities such as bathrooms and any end-of-day procedures
  • construction vehicle access points and pathways to be used (obtain approval if required)
  • possible damage to playing areas and procedures to reduce any field damage
  • any modifications to existing irrigation.

At the end of your lighting project

Take photos of the ground and areas of work to confirm if any damage has occurred that may require rectification. If rectification works are required confirm this in writing with the contractor and gain agreement on the works to be undertaken and when.

Ensure any keys to locks are returned and infrastructure removed by the contractor (e.g. goal posts, fencing, bollards) is replaced back to the correct location and is left in the same condition.

Obtain and supply to Council all as constructed documentation and final certifications for poles, footings, light spill and field lighting levels.

Have an asset management plan in place and update it with the new lighting details.

Amend your sinking fund to ensure you are budgeting for future maintenance and replacement costs.

Funding your project

If you are seeking external funding to undertake your project, make sure you have:

  • obtained Council approval
  • allowed enough time for your lighting and footings (if applicable) design to be ready prior to completing your funding application
  • advised the contractors quoting on the works.

Remember good planning and demonstrated need for the facilities you are seeking funding for, as well as your capability to meet your contribution requirements (if applicable) and manage the project, are key factors in achieving funding success.

Resources and support

If you are looking to upgrade or develop sports field or hard-court lighting on a Council community lease site, you must first obtain written approval from Council as landlord. Visit Application for works on a community leased/licensed premises to learn how to apply for Council approval.

A list of qualified professionals can be found by contacting the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand. You can request the names of members experienced in the design of sports lighting.

Visit our Reducing utility costs page to learn more about ways to reduce your ongoing electricity expenses.

For more advice on upgrading or installing new sports field or hard-court lighting, including site suitability, phone Council on 07 3403 8888.

Last updated: 21 September 2021

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