With few exceptions, metal halide high bay and low bay lights are the best luminaires to use for gymnasium lighting. They are common in school gyms, clubs, and recreational basketball courts and provide a robust source of white light with a high CRI. In smaller gyms where color rendering is not as important and budget is limited, high pressure sodium fixtures can be substituted. Because standard ceiling height for most gymnasiums measures around 25’, the optimal mounting height for HID lights is 22’ above the gym floor. To protect the fixtures against accidental ball impacts, it is recommended to use die cast aluminum fixtures suspended on hooks or safety chains to allow the fixture to swing with the impact if hit during a game.
RLLD Commercial Lighting recommends using 400 watt metal halide fixtures for gymnasium lighting. Any number of fixtures will work well for this purpose provided they use parabolic faceted reflectors that direct the majority of light downward from the luminaire. If you are lighting a gymnasium routinely frequented by crowds of spectators, luminaires with parabolic reflectors will shield the lamp arc from the eyes of spectators. HID fixtures of this type are generally the best choice for lighting college gymnasiums that play host to camera crews. Cameras need a higher luminance than the human eye to accurately render color and motion, and parabolic shielding and faceted reflectors will allow you to create up to 80 foot candles of light without blinding players, spectators, or fans at home. The number of fixtures used, the height of the ceiling, and the reflectivity of the ceiling and walls all play a factor in both distributing illumination and producing the negative by product of light pollution if luminaires are too intense.
This is another reason why we discourage the use of 1000watt fixtures as gymnasium lights. 1000 watt luminaires almost always produce excessive glare and have to be specially phosphor coated to create more comfortable distribution of light. This coating is an additional cost that isn’t worth accruing for yourself or passing on to your client, and it generally results in disappointing results because it diminishes not only glare, but luminance levels in general by as much as 15%. Pulse start metal halide fixtures, on the other hand, can produce anywhere between 20-80 foot candles of light in gymnasiums of any size. Multi-court gymnasiums may require some special configurations, of course, to produce varying degrees of light where needed. A photometric analysis can be obtained from RLLD Commercial Lighting that can help you chart out such a lighting design. Problem areas of glare and shadow can be immediately pinpointed, and strategies implemented to counter act them. A photometric report will also help you determine luminaire placement and positioning.
In some smaller gyms ceilings where ceilings are exceptionally low, and players and spectators have limited space. Use enclosed gasketed low bays in these areas to keep lighting levels even but comfortable and glare free. When lighting gymnasiums in areas with high dust content in the atmosphere, it is generally advisable to use industrial high bay light fixtures that are made with enclosed optics. In some cases, you might want to consider installing twin-mounted gymnasium lights for better light distribution and better lighting control. Pulse start metal halides are the best fixtures to use in any of these scenarios because of their quick restrike time and significantly faster warm up time. They also offer a competitive advantage over automatically switched quartz instant on lighting because they require no modification or customize components to perform these tasks.
The most common ballasts used in gymnasium lighting are standard auto regulator CWA. These provide good energy efficient, reliable power distribution for most HID fixtures used in gym lighting. Other ballast types may be needed, however, if other luminaires are substituted for those generally installed. Remote ballasting is recommended if at all possible to protect equipment from accidental ball impact. Once again, these mitigating problematics are much easier to tackle with a detailed photometric report on the gymnasium and its lighting and reflectivity dynamics. The cost of the report is refunded to paying clients at the time of equipment purchase, and drop shipping to client site and adjunct advisory lighting design services are standard procedures for RLLD Commercial Lighting.