LED Lighting for Ice and Hockey Rinks

Whether you have an indoor or outdoor ice rink, the experts at TheLightingCenter can help convert your lighting over to LED, whether its new fixtures or retrofitting your existing fixtures. We can easily replace both HID and fluorescent fixtures. And - LEDs love the cold!

Ice & hockey rinks can be indoors or outdoors. Converting to LED makes sense in both cases, offering bright, high quality light while consuming a fraction of what Metal Halide and HPS lights consume. Create brighter rink surface areas and save money on your operating costs up to 75%.

LED Hockey Rink Lights



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LED Lights for Hockey and Ice Skating Rinks

When ice hockey was first introduced to the world, it was played outdoors. For ice hockey enthusiasts, nothing was more beautiful than when temperatures were below zero degrees. However, the big challenge was that the weather could change at any moment. In case it snowed or rained heavily and the temperature went above 0 degrees, an ice hockey tournament would have to be postponed. But individuals and corporations with a vested interest in the development of ice hockey decided that in order for the game to advance, ice hockey rinks would have to be created.

So ice rinks with artificial ice were created, and the International Ice Hockey Federation currently boasts 75 member associations. The game is played across the globe. Thanks to artificial ice, ice hockey rinks can be built in any place, even a desert. By a rough estimate, there are over 100,000 outdoor and indoor ice hockey rinks in the U.S. and Canada.

Because of ever-growing urbanization and unhealthy city lifestyles, people are turning to recreational sports facilities to change their sedentary lifestyles. Improving the experience for athletes and spectators can bring communities together and motivate people to become more active. One way to improve the experience is by installing the proper lighting fixtures. LED ice hockey rink lights can help a facility to save on energy costs and boost the athletic environment while minimizing light pollution for the neighborhood.

The biggest challenge hockey rink managers face is keeping their rinks open for long periods every day of the year without attracting high utility and maintenance expenses that make the costs of operating the rinks prohibitive. Furthermore, the lighting in hockey rinks must be good enough to ensure hockey players can easily see and follow the small black rubber puck which has the ability to move at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.


Good lighting is important for ice hockey rinks and arenas. When players have clear visibility as they play on the rink, they give their peak performance. Lighting that is free of glare also helps cameras to capture all the action on the field, allowing spectators who are not in the arena to clearly see everything that is going on. Architectural light fixtures improve the atmosphere of the ice rink and the stadium, helping the facility to generate more revenue.

Lighting plays an important role in a sports venue as it determines how athletes and fans feel in the venue. If the venue has clear visibility and a welcoming ambiance, it enhances the experience for the people and keeps fans coming back.

By their very nature, ice rinks are big energy consumers because of the competing interests of intense heating and refrigeration for occupant comfort. The owners of ice arenas want efficient buildings, the managers want reduced operational costs, athletes want ice to be at the right temperature so they can give the best performance, and spectators want to be able to watch the games without shivering in their seats. So, how can all their needs be met? The answer is LED lighting.


Why LED Lighting?

Truth be told, it can be quite hard to control electricity usage and other expenses related to maintaining a sheet of ice. But there's some good news, LED lights can decrease the electricity consumption of an ice hockey rink. LEDs are very efficient compared to conventional metal halide lamps that were commonly used in older-generation hockey rinks. The light fixtures produce equal or better illumination than metal halides and use less than half the electricity the traditional lights use. LED lights also last up to 10 times longer than traditional light fixtures, reducing maintenance expenses and downtime over their lifetimes.

LED lighting provides enhanced visibility, which is the main reason many AHL, NHL, and college hockey arenas have converted to LED lighting. The improved visibility, combined with the enhanced economic profile of LED ice hockey rink lights, have played an important role in increasing the popularity of LED retrofits among hockey rinks. Additionally, the color rendering index and color temperature of LED hockey rink lighting closely match those of natural light.

The ice surfaces in hockey rinks appear brighter when illuminated by LED lights. The great thing about LEDs is that they can be configured with different diffusers and beam dispersal patterns to create perfectly uniform illumination. With older lighting technologies, the glare caused by ice surfaces as they reflected light had always been a problem.

However, LED diffusers get rid of almost every issue with glare. In addition, with LED ice hockey rink lighting, shadows and dark spots that may prevent hockey players from seeing the black hockey puck are no longer an issue. LED ice hockey rink lights improve the viewing experience for hockey fans. They are able to follow the fast action on the rink more easily when the players play on a well-lit rink.


Important Considerations for Ice Hockey Rinks and Skating Arenas



The Glare Rating

In order to create comfortable glare-free conditions in an ice hockey rink, the glare produced by the light fixtures must be controlled. When glare is controlled, there is an increase in visual performance. One glare rating system used all over the world is the Unified Glare Rating (UGR). The UGR technique for glare limitation was created for applications with a mostly horizontal viewing direction with light fixtures installed in the ceiling in regular patterns. 

In many sporting activities, the viewing direction is usually upwards. This may call for extra measures beyond UGR rating in some sports venues. For instance, the glare caused by the high luminance levels of light in a player's field of vision at some critical points in a playing field can be minimized using proper arrangements and covering of the light sources. The light fixtures can be installed along the viewing direction if possible. The disk-shaped black puck, the playing object in ice hockey, must be easily seen by the players, and this can only be possible if no glare is caused by looking at the luminaires. 

The amount of glare caused by lighting fixtures usually depends on four things: their light distribution patterns, the number of fixtures, their mounting height, and the environmental luminance. The table below gives glare rating values and assessments.


Glare RatingEvaluation
50roughly acceptable


The IK Rating

The IK rating – which is also known as the IK code or the impact protection rating – is usually comprised of the letters IK which are usually followed by two numerical values. The digits indicate the level of protection a lighting fixture offers. The IK rating tells us the impact a light fixture can take as well as the level of protection it has against wear and tear. In short, it measures the toughness and longevity of a light fixture.

The International Standard IEC 60068-2-75:1997 and the IEC 62262:2002 give numeric classifications to lighting fixtures that have been tested to show their degree of impact protection. Since an ice hockey rink is a high-traffic area, it is crucial to get light fixtures with the right IK rating.

The last thing you want is to buy light fixtures for an ice hockey rink only for them to get damaged because you never looked at the IK rating when you were buying them. The table below indicates the IK codes and the impact they can withstand, depending on tests carried out as per IEC 62262.

The Color Temperature

 Color temperature is the terminology used to describe the color characteristics of a light source. Some light sources produce very cool light (white or blue in color) while others produce very warm light (orange or yellow in color). Warm light is usually produced by older lighting technologies such as high pressure sodium lamps and halogen lamps while cool light is produced by fluorescents and LED lights. Cool white light ranges between yellow-white (3000K) and blue-white (5000K). Daylight ranges between blue-white (5000K) and bright-blue (6500K).

While it’s very true that lighting preferences differ, there’s one thing you should know: research has proven that cool white light and daylight have positive effects on mood, productivity, and the sleep cycle. Cool white light and daylight have a blue spectrum which plays an important role in helping people to be attentive at work, productive, and in a better mood.

Because different light sources have different color temperatures, it is crucial to keep this in mind when choosing light fixtures for ice hockey rinks. Light sources that produce warm light will make everything warmer in color while cool light sources will give everything a white or blue color cast. Here is a table of color temperatures with their corresponding color impressions.


The higher the color temperature of a light source, the brighter its light will appear. And although the light will appear brighter than that of a lamp with a lower color temperature, the lumen output of the fixtures may be the same, so the true brightness will not be affected.

In the past, our human eyes had gotten used to the soft white color temperature of high pressure sodium lamps and halogen lamps. But this does not mean that these lights are the best options for sports venues. In fact, because of their warmer color temperature, they usually pull warmer colors (reds, oranges, and yellows) from a room, altering the contrasts in the whole space.

There are two other important things you must take into consideration: how intense the light is and whether the surface materials in the ice hockey rink are reflective or not. Most ice hockey rinks use rubber flooring which is not highly reflective. This means you may need light fixtures with a higher color temperature to provide sufficient light. Glossy surfaces usually reflect more light in a room while darker surfaces absorb the light.

The color temperature of the lights you choose will have a big impact on how people experience ice hockey games. Think of the venue and the kind of mood you would like to evoke. The light color can make the difference between players and spectators staying alert and focused or feeling tired and inactive.

The Color Rendering Index

When it comes to buying lighting fixtures, there are 2 types of customers: those who do not bother to look at any of the features and simply go for the cheapest products (or those that are discounted) and customers who can be considered "smart shoppers." Smart shoppers take into consideration a myriad of factors when buying lighting fixtures. They are the ones who ask about the life expectancy of the products, their energy efficiency, their color temperature, their durability, and much more – features that are very crucial if you want to make your lighting a long-term investment.

As we all know, these days, artificial light does much more than get rid of darkness in the evenings. It can beautify a space, change the atmosphere, highlight focal points, enhance an experience, and improve mood and productivity. When examining lighting products you intend to buy for an ice hockey rink, one of the most important factors you must take into account is the color rendering index (CRI). It is one of the things you should keenly look at when purchasing any lighting product. And while color rendering is very important, not many people actually know what it means and why it is so important.

Many of the light sources which are considered very good at color rendering have a color rendering index between 85 and 90. Those that have a color rendering index of 90 and above are excellent at revealing true colors and are the most suitable for tasks where very accurate color discrimination are needed.

It is worth mentioning that most of the older lighting technologies used in ice hockey rinks do not have a high color rendering index. High pressure sodium lamps have a color rendering index between 20 and 30, metal halide lamps have a color rendering index between 60 and 70, while fluorescent lamps have a color rendering index between 65 and 75. The light sources with the best color rendering index are LEDs as their color rendering index ranges between 75 and 98.

It is true that LEDs did not have a high color rendering index when they were first introduced to the market, however, things have changed. Thanks to a lot of scientific effort and ongoing research, many new LEDs on the market now have excellent color rendering abilities. Below is a table with the color rendering index values and their typical applications.



Color Rendering Index (CRI)Typical Application
20 to 40These lights are used in areas where color rendering is not important at all and a noticeable distortion of colors is acceptable.
40 to 60These lights are used in areas where color rendering is not very important but a noticeable distortion of colors is not acceptable.
60 to 80These lights are used in areas where moderate color rendering is needed.
80 to 90These lights are used in areas where accurate color judgments are crucial or good color rendering is needed for purposes of appearance.
Above 90These lights are used in areas where accurate color rendering is vital.



How LED Lights Benefit Ice Hockey Rinks

LED Ice Hockey Rink Lights Provide High-Quality Light, Which Translates To A Better Experience for both Players and Fans


There is one thing we all know, ice has a shiny white color. However AHL and NHL teams have discovered that LED lights make ice look even more dazzling. They make everything brighter and make colors to pop out more. As players play on the ice rink, they find it easier to track the flight and movement of the small black puck. Fans can also see the puck and track it in the air. Even fans sitting in mid-level seats can see players digging the puck out of corners as they are no longer shrouded in shadow.

Traditional metal halide lights are omnidirectional and the light they produce is indirect and casts shadows. LED lighting enables the playing surface to shine, providing better visibility in every spot, including the corners. Since LED lighting is controllable, the light can be adjusted to be warmer or cooler, making colors to look better and lending a more natural appearance to everything in an ice hockey arena, from logos to uniforms. This is particularly important for multipurpose venues that switch between hockey, basketball, and concerts. For example, the lighting can be adjusted to be cooler for hockey and warmer for basketball.

Apart from providing higher-quality light, LED lights have one unique feature, they provide digital lighting which can be controlled at the source. This means that you can direct the light exactly where you want it to go.



They Produce Less Heat Than Metal Halides, Further Lowering Energy Consumption


Most traditional lighting technologies, such as metal halides, convert 95% of the electricity they draw into heat. They only convert 5% into light and are very inefficient. LEDs, on the other hand, convert 95% of the electricity they pull into light and only waste 5% as heat. Because of the low heat production of LED ice hockey rink lighting, they are able to lower power consumption further.

The importance of the low heat production of LEDs is accentuated in indoor ice hockey rinks where all the additional thermal energy on the ice’s surface has a considerable impact on electricity usage as well as the performance of the ice. During long hockey tournaments, metal halide lamps usually cause the ice to soften because of the numerous heat they produce as they illuminate the ice rink.

The metal halide lighting fixtures commonly used in ice hockey rinks have wattages between 400-1000. However, a lot of the electricity these light fixtures draw is converted into heat that leaves the light fixtures and is discharged in the same direction as the light – to the surface of the ice. Since LEDs emit less heat than conventional lighting systems, they play an important role when it comes to keeping ice frozen. By simply installing LED ice hockey rink lights, a hockey arena can reduce its wattage by approximately 75%. This may result in 85%-90% electricity savings across the system.

Reduce Maintenance and Operating Cost


While converting to LED lighting is a big investment, the upfront cost (which is the reason some venues postpone switching to LED) can be quickly recovered through reduced operating and maintenance costs. Additionally, since LED light fixtures provide controllable, higher-quality light, they can transform hockey rinks into multipurpose venues that can be used for a host of activities. This means that venue owners can enjoy increased revenues because of the higher usage of their facilities.

My LED Lighting Guide has helped many hockey rinks in North America to switch to LED technology and say goodbye to outdated lighting technologies. Our hockey rink lighting systems are specially designed to provide the top performance LEDs are known for. They are controllable and work well with intelligent lighting control systems. They can also withstand the harsh environments hockey rinks are sometimes exposed to.

They Make Special Effects Possible

As we previously mentioned, some hockey rinks are used for a myriad of sporting activities. These include ice skating shows and recreational skating. These sports can greatly benefit from the versatility of LED lights. For instance, colored LED lighting can be used to create special effects on the surface of the ice.

Also, the lights can be switched off and on instantly during tournaments to create an additional entertainment value with flashes or by synchronizing them to music. Because LEDs are highly flexible, there are many things that can be done to them in terms of programming in order to enhance game presentation. Remember, when you create a better experience for fans, they enjoy the game more and make it clear to the players – players feed off that energy and play better. Without a doubt, LED lighting can make all the difference.


They Make the Ice Rink Safer – Both Indoors and Outdoors

 Safety improvements can be made in two areas: in outdoor ice rink lighting & on the actual rink. In the parking lot, proper lighting can make drivers safer, prevent crime, and give the property a greater appeal. On the rink, proper lighting systems will allow for better visibility, reducing potential skating accidents. Want to improve the overall experience & safety at your ice skating rink? Ask us how we can do just that!

Indoor LED Ice Rink Lighting

Indoor hockey rinks contain high bays and flood lights to light up the ice surface and arena. Light levels have to be high enough so the players can see the hockey puck on the ice. Places like Canada have ice rinks open all year long, and some are open for 18 hours a day, where hockey is played from 6am to midnight. This can require a lot of energy consumption to power lights for that long. At such long usage hours, the ROI by converting to hockey arena LED lighting fixtures increases. Another way to achieve a higher ROI and lower conversion costs is by using Retrofit Kits for your ice rink lights.




Outdoor LED Ice Rink Lighting

Outside, we often have two types of things to illuminate: an outdoor rink arena or the parking lot and pathway area. Either way, they often consist of the same type of fixture to achieve the best illumination possible. These outdoor ice rink lighting fixtures offer high-output light required to illuminate large areas, all while keeping energy consumption down due to using LED technology.

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