Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge recently became the first Barclays Premier League stadium to host a match lit entirely by LED (Light-Emitting Diode) floodlights.

Working in partnership with Philips, Chelsea completed the overhaul of their lighting system to meet the new lighting requirements of the English Premier League in August 2014 – just in time for their friendly match with Real Sociedad.

But the new requirements aren’t just a chance for clubs to show off the latest technology. In fact, the move to LED lighting can mean concrete improvements for the team, the supporters, and the club.

1. Better visibility and reduced flicker

The move to LED floodlights is said to have made significant improvements to visibility – for players, referees, stadium fans and armchair supporters.  Those watching at home are especially likely to see the benefits. This is because the new lighting technology helps to dramatically reduce the flicker you see when watching slow-motion replays on HD TVs.  Testing in Southampton’s stadium – which also recently upgraded to LED lighting – showed only 0.2% flicker on their replays, putting them safely inside the new Premier League requirements of a maximum flicker of 6%.

2. More responsive lighting control

One especially promising aspect of the new lighting system, however, is its response time.  While the older lights used in stadiums required considerable time to warm up, LEDs can be switched on and off instantly. And with the right control panel, each individual floodlight can be dimmed, brightened, activated or deactivated with ease.

That means that an LED lighting system can also be used to create special entertainment lighting effects, forming part of the atmosphere-building light shows before and after matches.

3. Reduced maintenance costs and environmental impact

In order to complete the upgrade, the stadiums’ old metal halide lighting systems had to be replaced.  As well as being considerably less energy-efficient than their LED counterparts – emitting more energy in the form of heat – metal halide systems have a much shorter lifespan.  While the old lighting systems typically lasted for 3 football seasons before they needed replacing, the new LED system is expected to last for more than 10 seasons.  That means that stadiums making the move to LEDs should face substantially lower maintenance costs – as well as reducing their negative impact on the environment.

Chelsea and Southampton are leading the way for innovative uses of efficient and effective lighting technology.  Premier League teams, clubs and supporters are all seeing the benefits of a move to LED lighting, and many smaller businesses are starting to make energy savings, too.

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