Easy LED Oy roll’s out Europe's first ice rink lighting project with LED technology
On Tuesday the 8th of November, the Aimo Mäkinen Arena facility was opened in Helsinki, Finland and became the first ice rink in Europe to be entirely lit with energy efficient LED lights designed and implemented by Easy LED Oy. The owner, The Helsinki Ice Arena Foundation cooperated on the project to deliver a solution that was designed primarily with efficient operating costs in mind.
Already in the pre-planning phases of the new facility, the owners were looking for better ways to create an energy efficient and economical way to construct the rink. For example, in the Aimo Mäkinen Arena, lost heat is also recovered through the air exchange system of the building.
“The present technique (of lighting ice rinks) is already at the end of its development and we had to find new solutions. In addition to the low energy consumption, the small heat yield is also one of the advantages of the LED technology”, explains Mr. Harry Bogomoloff, CEO of the Arena Foundation.
The significance of the low heat production of LED-lighting is emphasized in indoor ice-skating rinks in which all extra thermal energy on the surface of the ice has a significant impact on energy use as well as ice performance. During long tournaments, the ice softens by the action of the heat of traditional light fixtures radiating onto the ice. A standard metal halide lamp uses between 400-1000 watts. The majority of this energy becomes heat that leaves the light fixture to be radiated in the same direction as the light, towards the surface of the ice. The lamps used in the Aimo Mäkinen Arena are the Easy LED PRO 700 model with a total power consumption of only 130 Wper fixture. The heat that is created in the light fixture comes mostly from the electronics, which radiate upwards, away from the ice surface.
Mr. Bogomoloff also sees possibilities from the project to develop an indoor ice-skating rink that is even more environmentally conscious than before. “By bringing into use new technologies, it was possible to do pioneer work to advance the possibilities in ice hockey rinks”.
Mr. Bogomoloff is indeed extremely satisfied with the lighting of the new hall. “I am at least 110 % satisfied with the new hall. This is the best lighting which I have seen in this kind of hall and I have seen quite a few!“
The quality of the lighting is confirmed with the luminance measurements as well. Marko Urama from Mitaten Oy carried out the luminance measurements a week before the opening of the new ice arena. The luminance pictures are created with a calibrated camera and special software, which shows the luminance levels in different areas of the hall. The new ice rink luminance pictures showed the light was divided across the whole area quite evenly. The luminance pictures are also a guarantee of product quality by Easy LED Oy.
“By taking the luminance pictures in the lit hall in practical conditions, the success of the design can be confirmed. The pictures also serve as the grounds of the guarantee because it is then possible to check for changes in the lighting over time”, the people from Easy LED Oy tell.
Natural light offers great advantages
When users of the hall were asked of their experiences , they raised the quality of the light as one of the best properties of the new facility. Nearly every one mentioned that the light was very near to natural daylight. Kaisa Nieminen, the coach and choreographer of the Rockettes synchronized skating team from Helsinki’s Figure Skating Club whom appeared in the opening ceremonies, emphasized the psychological effects of the lighting. “It's nice to come into the hall; immediately you have a positive feeling. The light is comfortable in color and resembles quite closely daylight”, Nieminen reports. The lack of shadows from the lighting also got strong praise from the coach.
The legendary Finnish hockey team Jokerit has a group of retired players, Aimot, which put on an exhibition game as part of the opening day festivities at the new arena. Esa “Tiki" Tikkanen who had a long and famous career as a NHL professional ice hockey player was on hand for the event and praised the hard and quick ice. He had also noticed the lack of shadows. “The shadows were still there, mostly in the corners, but they were no longer distracting, while central ice had no shadows. The lack of shadows thrown by the lights are significant in the fast pace of ice hockey. The players' sense of surroundings and other players are impacted by even very minor signs. The player's own shadow, which comes from a surprising direction may disturb the game. I do not know what it is but your own shadow is disturbing”, Tikkanen characterizes.
Heading for an even brighter future
LED lighting has already established its position as the light source of the future. The existing references have made the many doubters change their opinions. The LED lighting in Aimo Mäkinen arena is an indication of the functionality of the LED lighting both qualitatively as well as quantitatively In the future, energy regulations will tighten further making LED the suitable choice for all most applications. The energy directive which comes into force within the EU will make illegal many of the light fixture types currently in use. The price of energy will also continue to rise, forcing many companies to look for cost savings thru LED technology.
The LED technology is indeed especially energy efficient for the indoor ice skating rink applications and other similar locations in which the heat load must be actively lowered. At the Aimo Mäkinen Arena, the calculated energy savings from the lighting alone will be about 9000 € per year. When the reduced need for cooling is factored in after the reduced heat load of the lights, the total annual savings are a staggering 19000-20000 € per year.
LED lights are nowadays suitable to replace for example, metal halide lamps, in many locations. In the near future, LED lights will be producing even more light while using even less energy. Mr. Johan Bischoff from Osram promises they will be making LED's that yield greater power and efficiency.
“Power LED's light output is growing all the time so the number of LED's and lighting costs can be reduced. The next generation of LEDs will be able to produce a double the lumens compared to the current models while remaining the same physical size”, he says.
Mr. Bischoff is confident that more efficient LEDs can make better lamps overall. He is also expecting the price of LED lamps to come down significantly.
“In an LED lamp, the share of the total price coming from the LED component is very high from 60-80 %. If the same light output can be produced in a smaller number of LEDs, the lamp's cost decreases significantly”, says Bischoff.
The new generation of LEDs could also be presented to new locations. The amount of light required to adquately light Vuosaari arena was exceeded with flying colors, but whether LED lamps are ready to light a professional sports arena like Hartwall arena?
“It may be that it is only one step away”, says Bischoff.
Harry Bogomoloff says it is a challenge from the perspective of the optical designers.
“LEDs already offer enough light intensity to many different destinations, the challenge is to design lenses that can direct the light to the right places.