Whether you’re building a private or public pickleball court, proper pickleball court lighting can make a difference between satisfactory and mediocre gameplay. Commercial or public installations must comply with the USA Pickleball light standards. There are no rules to follow in your court, but you might want to consider the standards the American Sports Builders Association sets.
This way, you can ensure optimal illumination of the entire playing surface so players won’t make mistakes due to poor pickleball court lighting.
Another thing to consider is the number of courts – one or two lighting poles might suffice in backyard pickleball courts, but pickleball facilities with multiple courts might require tailored solutions.
- USA Pickleball Light Standards
- Types of Lighting
- Pickleball Light Poles
- Key Takeaways
USA Pickleball Light Standards
The USA Pickleball sets up the light standard for commercial and public facilities. A private court doesn’t have to adhere to them, but if you plan on turning it into a commercial facility, you might have to adjust based on the ASBA Pickleball construction manual outlines.
These outlines define the amount of lighting needed for each court design. Beyond the amount of lighting, the uniformity of the illumination is another crucial thing that determines the overall quality of the lighting system.
As a rough guideline, USA Pickleball recommends a luminaire-correlated color temperature (CCT) of 5000K for commercial and 4000K for residential courts. CCT describes the perceived color of the light in Kelvin degrees, where a higher Kelvin temperature corresponds to cool lighting and lower temperatures to warm lighting.
Specific lighting illumination levels can vary, but you should avoid color temperatures over 5000K as they’ll have a bluish tint.
Types of Lighting
The type of court lighting can be different for indoor or outdoor courts. In indoor setups, you must also consider whether you want the highest illuminance levels or to avoid glare.
Indoor Direct Lighting Fixtures
Indoor direct lighting, as its name suggests, consists of a fixture directing light toward the playing surface. This type of setup provides the highest illuminance levels on the court, but it could raise problems if the court surface is shiny, as the reflected light could affect players’ vision. This lighting setup also limits the amount of ambient light in areas other than the court.
Indoor Indirect Lighting Fixtures
Indirect lighting is the most popular option for indoor pickleball courts. In this setup, light is directed upwards and reflected into the room by the ceiling and walls. Thus, it provides optimal ambient illumination of the entire space and excellent illumination on the court with very low glare. These characteristics make indirect fixtures perfect for shinier surfaces like acrylic.
Outdoor Light Fixtures
Outdoor lighting is always directed toward the playing surface, maximizing the visibility in low-light conditions. Modern pickleball court illumination consists of LED fixtures explicitly engineered for outdoor tennis or pickleball courts. These bulbs are rated 50,000 to 100,000 hours, up to 50 times more than typical incandescent lights and up to 25 times more than typical halogen lights, and are well suited for outdoor pickleball applications.
Broadcast Quality Television Lighting
Whether indoor or outdoor, tournament pickleball courts require a specific type of lighting with broadcast quality. The vast majority of courts use Zone lighting developed by LSI Corp.
Vertical outdoor lighting solutions are optimized for maximum player visibility with no uplight.
They also deliver uniform illumination thanks to the upgraded optical system design with a wide spill area.
Besides vertical lighting, LSI also provides horizontal lighting solutions for outdoor courts with optional laser sight for pinpoint accuracy.
LSI also provides indirect lighting solutions for indoor tournament courts with light outputs up to 75,000 lumens and upgraded lens geometry designed to withstand impact.
This lighting system operates via a wireless control system and features sensors for energy saving.
Modern pickleball court light fixtures feature LED lights that provide a much longer lifespan than filament-based lighting fixtures. However, some installations still use incandescent or halogen bulbs, which are often cheaper upfront.
The main problem with standard incandescent and standard halogen lights is the poor illumination compared to LED lighting. These bulbs output either yellowish hues or excessively white light that can negatively impact vision.
LED lights come in a variety of warm or cool tones, as well as options that mimic natural light to almost perfection. Most commercial and tournament courts use LED bulbs with a color temperature between 4000K and 5000K, but residential courts can use any color temperature you see fit.
Pickleball Light Poles
Light color and bulb types aside, another element that can make or break the lighting solution, not to mention the ease of lighting installation, is the type of poles the lights are fixed onto.
Poles are typically needed for outdoor lights only – some indoor courts use them too for direct light, but this is rare. The standard for most indoor courts is suspended indirect lighting.
There are three main pole types: steel, aluminum, and fiberglass. Other pole types, such as silicone-coated, are becoming increasingly popular, but these options are expensive.
Round Tapered Steel Poles
The most popular pole type is round tapered steel. They come in heights ranging from 10 to 99 feet, even though most courts require a proper pole height between 18 and 24 feet.
Regardless of their height, these poles are popular due to their stability in strong winds. The rounded shape allows wind to pass around the pole without excessive vibrations. For this reason, they are usually more expensive, but they’re a good option if you want to reduce maintenance costs.
Square Straight Steel Poles
The main disadvantage of square straight poles is their shape. Their corners and flat surfaces block winds, which translates into more vibrations. This won’t be an issue if the reflected light is uniform. However, this is rarely the case, so wind vibration can impact the uniformity of light reflected on the court.
Despite this disadvantage, square straight poles are often used in residential setups due to their more affordable cost.
Aluminum and Fiberglass Options
Both aluminum and fiberglass poles come in square and round options. Aluminum is cheaper than steel, but it is a lot lighter. It resists winds, but vibrations could be problematic.
Fiberglass is a very resistant material, but, like aluminum, it is light. Not only is the pole more likely to swing in the wind, but fiberglass poles are also more expensive. However, both options are ideal for indoor courts where direct lighting is necessary.
How much light do you need on a pickleball court?
The minimum necessary for players to see properly is 30-foot candles and at least twice as many light levels for pro play.
What kind of bulbs do you use for pickleball?
LED bulbs are considered the industry standard for pickleball courts. They have replaced incandescent and halogen lights in almost all setups.
How many lumens does it take to light a tennis court?
Tennis courts typically have eight lights that output a minimum of 60,000 lumens for tournaments or professional play.
- Proper pickleball court lighting is essential for seamless play.
- Indoor and outdoor courts should use LED light fixtures with a color temperature between 4000K and 5000K. LEDs are the right lighting solutions due to their low energy consumption.
- Indirect lighting is best for an indoor pickleball facility, ensuring proper light coverage without glare.
- Outdoor courts require direct lighting that outputs a minimum of 30-foot candles.
- Systems that offer instant illumination are standards for ideal pickleball court design. The typical control system is wireless, and sensors ensure energy efficiency.