Not all schools can afford to have a volleyball court installed. If the school is lucky enough to have a court, it makes sense to make sure that there is ample lighting so students can use it as much as possible throughout the year.
This article will discuss what types of lighting are available and which ones should be used for the best effect. There will also be some information on planning properly around lights for installation timeframes.
There are three major types of light fixtures that are appropriate for installation above a volleyball court: troffers, high bays, and medium bays.
Each fixture type has its own advantages and disadvantages in regards to energy efficiency, lumens output, cost, maintenance issues, etc., but they should all provide an appropriate level of illumination for a volleyball court.
Types of Lights Fixtures
What are high bays?
High bays are tall fixtures, usually installed around 50 feet in height, that provide general illumination for parking lots and warehouses. They are the least expensive option, but also the most energy-intensive.
What are medium bays?
Medium bays are fixtures commonly used above loading docks or inside warehouses to provide light to specific areas. These can be up to 30 feet high and tend to be more efficient than high bays while still providing plenty of light for a volleyball court.
What are troffers?
Troffer lights (or troffers) are recessed fluorescent fixtures that mount directly into the ceiling or walls. Troffer ceilings give off great lighting for the price, come in many different styles (some even designed with the school colors), are easy to install, and are relatively inexpensive.
Which One Should I Choose?
While all three types of fixtures will provide sufficient illumination for a volleyball court, troffer lights are often recommended because they allow for higher ceilings than medium bay or high bays while still providing great energy efficiency.
They also tend to be among the most cost-effective option as well—especially when you factor in how much it would cost to have lines painted onto an outdoor surface compared to just installing new lights above an existing playing area.
The only real downside with choosing troffer lights is that they need to be installed by a professional with experience and the proper equipment, but with careful planning, this can be scheduled in with other renovations or scheduled around times when games aren’t taking place.
High bays are usually preferred as they offer the most efficient and provide even light distribution across the surface of the court. However, high bays with metal halide bulbs can be very expensive to operate; up to three times that of an equivalent-wattage LED fixture.
High bays generally emit at least 7500 lumens per bulb with some emitting up to 13,000 lumens (compared to 200-300 lumens emitted by fluorescent troffers).
If high bay fixtures are installed with mercury vapor or sodium lamps, the energy costs will be proportionately increased along with maintenance costs due to more frequent lamp changes required (20+ months vs. 32+ months for metal halide).
Medium bays are also commonly used as they provide lots of light with an efficient level of energy usage. They will provide more than enough light for use on a volleyball court and can be powered by fluorescent or LED bulbs which have long lifespans and low energy costs.
However, many schools have been replacing their metal halide high bays with LED fixtures because of lower operating costs – making medium bay fixtures less common overall.
In addition to the lower maintenance effort required, LED lights typically last longer than metal halide even though these two technologies deliver comparable lumen output per bulb.
For example, a typical 200-300 lumen metal halide bulb should last about 20,000 hours while a typical LED light will last well over 100,000 hours.
LED fixtures are often preferred by schools that have parking lots or other areas outside where they need to illuminate for security purposes. They are very energy-efficient but also come in different styles and colors (some are even available in red/yellow/green which is helpful when lighting football fields).
The major downside of LED lights is the cost to purchase them. Most medium bay fixtures run between $500 – $1,200 per fixture depending on lumens output and features.
While this price tag may be prohibitive for many schools with tight budgets, it’s important to remember that LED fixtures can pay for themselves quickly due to low energy costs.
Troffers are short, three-foot-long fixtures that generally emit about 200-300 lumens.
They are an excellent option for lighting a volleyball court as they can be installed practically anywhere and use very little energy due to their low lumen output which allows them to run off of T12 or T8 fluorescent bulbs.
Troffers provide even light distribution across the surface of a court and can be mounted much lower than metal halide or LED fixtures.
This is one major reason why troffers are a great choice as they won’t obstruct students’ views from seating areas above the court or block any lines on the floor that may be used for instructional purposes (such as “feet, shoulders, hips” in serving).
Troffers can limit ceiling height because the top of the light fixture is at a 90-degree angle further limiting headroom, but they do provide great lighting for volleyball courts.
These are sometimes used for volleyball courts but most schools prefer high bays and medium bays because they provide greater light output and uniformity. We still think that this is your best bet if you have the budget.
Although troffers can be purchased with metal halide bulbs (an option not available in either high bay or medium bay fixtures), this wattage is typically too low to illuminate a regulation court properly.
Troffers are generally less expensive than either high bays or medium bays; however, their lumen output per bulb is also much lower (no more than about 1500 lumens).
This level of brightness works best when multiple troffers are installed above a basketball or tennis court where shorter throws combined with multiple fixtures will provide the necessary light levels.