converting a hockey rink to LED lighting

- Jul 26, 2019-

By some estimates, there are more than 10,000 indoor and outdoor ice hockey rinks in the United States and Canada. Operators of hockey rinks face a constant tension of keeping their rinks open for 18 or more hours every day throughout the year without incurring high utility and other expenses that make the cost of operating those rinks prohibitive. Moreover, the environment of those rinks needs to be good enough to allow hockey players to see and follow a small, black rubber puck that can move at speeds between 50 and 100 miles per hour.

Utility and other expenses associated with maintaining a sheet of ice cannot be easily controlled, but the electricity costs of lighting a hockey rink can be reduced with LED lighting. Compared to traditional metal halide lighting that was common on older-generation hockey rinks, LED lighting produces the same or better illumination with less than half the electrical energy consumption. LED light fixtures often last much longer than traditional fixtures, which reduces downtime and maintenance expenses over the life of a lighting system.

The enhanced visibility provided by LED lighting has already led many NHL, AHL, and college hockey arenas to convert to LED lights. That visibility, combined with the improved economic profile or LED hockey rink lighting, is creating a groundswell of LED retrofits among amateur hockey rinks. The color temperature and color rendering indices of LED illumination closely matches natural lighting. Ice surfaces appear brighter under LED lights. LED systems can be configured with different beam dispersal patterns and diffusers to create a surface with almost perfectly-uniform illumination. Where glare from an ice surface had been a problem with traditional lighting, LED diffusers eliminate virtually every issue with glare. Further, dark spots and shadows that might obscure a black hockey puck are no longer a problem with LED hockey rink lighting. Lastly, LED lighting also improves the viewing experience for hockey fans, who can follow fast action more easily when it takes place on a well-lit playing surface.

The conversion and retrofit process from existing metal halide or high pressure sodium fixtures is relatively straightforward. Specialty LED manufacturers make high bay and LED retrofit lighting systems that can be adapted into existing electrical lighting profiles for both indoor and outdoor hockey rinks. With more advanced control systems, rink operators can focus LED lighting on an ice playing surface while dimming that lighting in spectator areas. LED’s can be turned on and off almost instantly. Fan seating areas can be immediately brought back to full illumination during intermissions and before and after games.

Hockey rinks that are used for ice skating shows, exhibitions, and recreational skating will also benefit from the versatility of LED lighting. Colored LED lighting, for example, can be used to create special effects on an ice surface. This versatility lets hockey rink operators get more use out of a skating facility, which translates directly into more revenue to keep the facility operating year-round.