June 3, 2022

Equestrian Arena Solar Lighting

Solar Horse Arena Lighting

Is it possible to light a horse arena with solar lighting?

Simple answer is yes… but you need to consider multiple factors.

This article was written by Jeff Florance from BlackFrog Solar Lighting Brisbane. 

Jeff has 20 years of experience in solar lighting, running his own business since 2002. Jeff comes from a farming background, having experience with his own stock horses, and competition riding in the South Burnett region of Queensland. BlackFrog Solar has been specializing in solar lighting for horse arenas for over 14 years, having completed both commercial and residential projects. BlackFrog Solar lights are used on tennis courts, basketball courts, carparks, main roads, shopping centres, and much more. BlackFrog Solar Lighting provides products, installation and servicing across Australia, New Zealand, and our South Pacific neighbours, as well as free, honest lighting advice.

For this article, we will concentrate on solar lighting only, but you should consider mains-powered options if you have 240V or 3-phase power accessible near your arena.

Below are the basic questions you should ask yourself and have answers ready when requesting a quotation.

  1. You should know your budget. $$$$
  2. Any type of lighting is expensive when you consider the need for poles or trenching for cabling, electrician costs, upgrading the power board, mounting hardware, and installation.
  3. Solar horse arena lighting (whether solar or mains powered) can cost between $5000 to $150,000 or more.
  4. The cost depends greatly on the amount of light required, the type of installation, and your personal expectations.
  5. What lighting levels are needed?

  1. Lux levels vary greatly and using measurements such as Watts or Lumens will not tell you how much light will be provided at ground level.
  2. Lux is the measurement of light reaching the arena surface. Note: Green grass absorbs the light, while white sand reflects the light, providing greater brightness.
  3. Watts generally refers to the power consumption of the light (not the brightness), while Lumens is the output of the light. For example, a 70W solar floodlight can provide 10,000 Lumens of light, but the brightness at horse riding level (LUX) will vary depending on pole height, surface reflection, and light overlapping. See a standard lighting level diagram below for reference.
  • Do you just need residential low-level lighting just to perform general groundwork in your arena, or is there a commercial application and compliance with Australian Standards required?
  1. There is no current Australian standard for the horse-riding industry, but there is one in development. Until this standard was completed, the industry used the Sports Field lighting Standards.
  2. Low-level lighting is that which is bright enough to allow safe visual capability for both the horse and the rider based on the activity they perform at night. (Jumping with horses at night is dangerous, and requires bright, overlapping light to prevent shadowing, and allow for 3D visual perception.)
  3. Although there is no set standard for horse arena lighting, there are guidelines and safe lighting recommendations depending on each arena.
  • What is the activity being performed in the arena, and for how many hours?
  1. Lighting levels should scale up depending on the activity you perform at night. For example: just fun riding, you can get away with low-level (car headlights) 5 to 15Lux, but with groundwork or dressage, you would expect higher levels (floodlighting from above the arena) 30 to 50 Lux. Jumping should be at 100 to 150 Lux or higher if competition/public arena safety standards are needed.

To give you an example: Tennis Queensland expects 300Lux lighting levels on their competition courts.

  • Do you need poles? If so what type and what height?

  1. This is a “how long is a piece of string” type question. Many factors effect the pole design, height requirement, location, type of light distribution, size of arena, required light levels, reflective surface, soil acidity and off course your available budget. Below are some basic models:
  2. Consider maintenance: How do you clean the solar panel or replace the battery? Generally, if you don’t have high reach equipment, we recommend a Pivot Pole or Mid hinged pole. Images below.
  • What type of solar lights are available?

  1. There are lots of solar lights on the market, and many are available from overseas, but you should consider all the factors: Warranty, maintenance, future serviceability, design and lighting distribution. (It is best to talk with a specialist)
  2. Some solar lights have fixed batteries, some have poor waterproofing, and some are just poorly or cheaply constructed.
  3. Consider not only how the light is mounted, but also the cabling and solar panels. A great alternative to solar floodlights is all in one solar street lights. See a comparison below:

Requires pole top solar panel mounting                            One fixing point. Solar panel

And floodlight mount, plus cabling.                                    Built-in to the top.

  1. The light type and brightness levels will also determine how high your light can be mounted. Sports stadium lights can be 30 meters or more, community sports fields can be around 12 to 15 meters; but residential horse arenas can achieve good results with poles around 7 to 8 meters.

We have touched on many topics in this article, but we have also missed quite a few. Such as switching, light control, light distribution (IES), weathering performance, fauna issues (birds and other animals), soft light or bright light (kelvin scale), etc, etc. But hopefully this article has provided some in-site guidance on lighting your arena (solar or mains powered).

Jeffrey A Florance

Managing Director

BlackFrog Solar Pty Ltd