Jessica P - Jan 20, 2023
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The word “natatorium” comes from the Latin word: “place for swimming”.
Pools and natatorium designated spaces are now used for so much more than this. Beyond watersports, they are also a highlight feature of private homes, fitness centres, hotels and health institutions.
The need to be submersed in water is about as primal as it gets considering where we all came from.
The history of civilization as far back as indicated by Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs show that being close to and in the water has been central to our evolution; survival, travel, trade and of course; war.
Next time when you butterfly stroke towards the bar for a pina colada, think about the Samurai and iron clad soldiers that learned to swim in uniform as part of their warrior training.
BIRTH OF THE INDOOR POOL & SPA
Healing and recreation are what usually comes to mind when we refer to pools as we know them.
“The Great Bath” made of fine brick and sealed with gypsum marked the earliest record of a pool designed for humans. This was a place for peaceful ritual and healing that dated back to Pakistan 3000 BCE.
Today, the main pool types are constructed of vinyl, fiberglass or concrete and can be built in a variety of shapes and themes that are inspired from the tropics to the Italian Renaissance.
The leisurely inclinations of the Ancient Romans and Greeks marked their contributions to pool design by constructing elaborate in ground heated systems complete with aqueduct feeds for improved sanitation in 300 BC. This was the epitome of the thermal spa.
In England,1828, is when the first indoor pool opened to the public. This was around the time when competitive swimming was picking up speed and the first Olympic size pool was introduced to the world by Athens in 1910.
The shift to private and subsequently indoor pools in some countries was thought to be mostly as a result of socio-economic and political factors during a time of segregation when many public pools shut down due to this.
Luckily, investments in the improvements and building of new pools is in demand with the trend for wellness and community placemaking strategies.
Ever since, natatorium design and lighting technology has been keeping up with what now has become the jewel for many private and public facilities.
INDOOR POOL LIGHTING OVERVIEW
Experts are without question required for the installation of pool lighting. Installers must understanding both
wet and dry niche systems required for longevity, performance and most importantly prevention of electrical leakage.
Visually, in an indoor pool, or what is commonly referred to as a natatorium is a uniquely complex project to light because of the science required to not only observe safety but control reflections and mitigate glare.
Maintenance factors and luminaire selection in a highly corrosive environment also top the list of priorities.
There are some differences in the approach between a private residence and a public facility but safety is the driver in either case with this precarious environment.
KEY CONSIDERATIONS SAFETY FIRST
Safety is always the primary consideration in natatorium lighting of any kind. This cannot emphasized enough.
Not only is it a slippery injury prone zone but electricity is being integrated into a wet environment. Fixtures will require compliance with national electrical codes and the correct IP68 rating depending on fixture placement within the facility. There is the pool itself, the deck, spectator areas and auxiliary areas such as change rooms and utility zones.
With high levels of reflectance from the turbulence of water and elements of sun during daylight hours, glare mitigation is necessary for not only visual comfort but also safety.
To control problematic reflective veiling and glare, the lighting design should limit the angle of incidence to a maximum of 50 degrees.
Luminaires should be placed along the perimeter and should ideally be indirect fixtures especially if overhead. To further optimize the lighting, ceilings are recommended to be a white matte and underwater finishes should not be less than a 50% reflectance value.
Daylight fenestration is best diffused and overhead versus the length of the pool.
Natatoriums of any kind (including small residential spaces with hot tubs and even some ensuite bathrooms to a degree) are highly corrosive environments and require fixtures that can withstand the excessive moisture, humidity and exposure to chemicals such as chlorine. Selecting the correct fixture to endure the elements and still perform long term is crucial.
Because these fixtures can be hard to access and disruptive to activities, fixtures should be durable with longevity and not require maintenance for a very long time if it all. Placement of fixtures should remain on the perimeter areas and able to be accessed by a ladder from the pool deck or in rarer circumstances from a catwalk.
Each layout is customized for the purpose of pool occupants to have visual comfort and those outside the pool to have the same while being able to see all areas of the water and beneath it.
Beam spread degrees and angles are computed to optimize light uniformity and level while controlling glare.
Overhead lights should positioned around the perimeter of the pool for example.
The idea is also to not blind swimmer doing the back stroke as well as enabling the lifeguard to see them.
Further to the correct product, location and beam spread maximize luminaire efficiency and should not interfere with items like score boards, thermal and audio systems.
Underwater light spacing will vary dependent on dimensions and depth.
As an example underwater recessed lights should be placed along the pool length at a height of 2-3’ below the water in shallower pools with a 10 degree angle aimed above the horizontal so that beam reflects back into the water.
The value of lamp performance (also known as Luminous Efficacy) helps designers determine the number of lights needed which can vary depending on configuration of the space and it’s structure. This is why the best lamp is not only about performance but power consumption and wiring estimation too.
In the construction process, the lighting and its wiring design should happen as early on as possible to minimize costs and disruption. Your contractors will appreciate this.
Pools are used both during the day and at night, especially for competitive sports and training.
Depending on the size of pool, use of, and activities taking place as well as the occupant age and skill range, lighting requirements will vary.
Luckily, international teams of lighting geeks performed the research and validation to provide standardized targets to keep everyone happy and safe. Having a lighting professional on site to perform the calculations and make an assessment with the specialized tools will help ensure standards are met:
PUBLIC & COMPETITIVE
Typically most pools require between 200-750lux. The levels increase based on the level of competition.
For 4K broadcast, significantly higher illuminance levels are specifically required, usually 1000 lux.
The water and deck surface illuminance and water luminance are the key metrics in this category.
For our brainy engineers, here is a calculation: 126.96.36.199 Luminance Requirements (IES Handbook)
For design purposes, the following empirical equation can be used to determine the number of total lumens required on a pool surface:
CHARACTERISTICS OF LIGHTING
Following safety we care about how things look and feel. After all, people visit these liquid sanctuaries for some form of relaxation or rejuvenation one way or another.
Colour rendition and chromacity (intensity) is what affects the flow of our emotional moods and energy levels too.
A CRI of 80 or higher is recommended. Coloured lighting also known as RGB lighting is a bit novelty to some depending on the hue but with colour options of all kinds, including a tantalizing range of blues one can really create an experience. Or slight shifts in the blue spectrum to enhance the existing natural tones from the water.
A more relaxed spa like facility would call for a different ambiance than a recreational facility with kids learning to face their fears of the deep end (and for some the notorious Jaws soundtrack).
In a spa setting, pink and red may be just what is needed to mellow out and feel the warm fuzzies. This type of colour pop and contrast can be quite striking for special events and leaving that impression. Real Estate agents take note.
However, too much contrast should be avoided since it can distract from the attention of lifeguards or anyone monitoring activity.
A CT (Colour Temperature) of 3000-4500K are recommended for leisure & recreational pool use while 4500-5500K may be required for competition and broadcast situations.
Illuminance: The level of light on a surface, is measured in Lux (Lx). For multi-directional “ground sports” this is most important lighting metric to achieve.“Lux” is one lumen per square meter. Lumen is the SI unit of the incident luminous flux, which is the light emitted by a lamp (the light source itself).
CRI: Colour Rendering Index, is a widely used conventional number that indicates the true fidelity of a colour comparative to the true full spectrum colour as revealed by natural sunlight. The higher the number, the more vivid and accurate reproduction of colour is indicated. (It should be noted TM-30 is the latest standard to refer to in some cases).
CT: Colour temperature is most simply explained by a range from “warm” to “cool” or “cold”. The higher the number, the more blue/ white, cold the light based on the black body radiator reference that most closely matches the wavelengths emitted by the sun throughout the day.
Glare: Glare is a result of when the intensity of light produced in the visual field is greater than the intensity of light to which the eyes are adapted.
A NOTE ON FLEXIBILITY & CONTROLS
Controls are empowering to property owners and facility managers. Adjusting lights for competition, smooth start up and transitions between custom lighting “scenes” are just some of the features that controls systems provide in addition to monitoring energy consumption, maximizing occupancy sensors and daylight harvesting all from the comfort of your deck chair or office area.
Once the lighting has met safety guidelines, the lighting system can add an extra dimension of ease and simplicity to creating visual interest. If you are in the hospitality business this would certainly add value to your guest experience and positive reviews.
LIGHTING FOR BROADCAST
In any broadcast situation lighting levels need to be significantly higher and challenges such as flicker while capturing and magnifying detail is the focus.
In addition to the much higher light levels needed, the importance of a crisp colour rendering delivered by LEDs provide the wow factor and color fidelity our eyes have become accustomed too with the vivid high tech playground we now exist in.
Correct uniformity as a result of the perfect lighting placement on both the horizontal and vertical planes helps to correct most camera issues and flicker. The orientation of camera angles contributes to how we physiologically perceive things. It is an essential factor that prevents adaptation issues for both athletes and spectators to be able to visually interpret the screen or the water they are in. Again this is a specialized area we can plan for you.
MAINTENANCE & EFFICIENCY
You may be in a scenario that calls for an upgrade or a complete LED retrofit from legacy lighting.
A good lamp should last over fifty years. If you need to upgrade LED, now is the time.
A well planned retrofit will translate into significantly better fixture performance and improved operating expenses. The user experience is what makes it ultimately worth it.
We will illustrate the best efficiency with cost analysis calculations to determine the best value that informs us of the best product to use. LED lamps are the most suitable as they have a luminous efficacy that varies between 120 and 150 lumens/ Watt which out perform other legacy lamps by leaps, bounds and cannon balls off the highest proverbial diving boards.
KEY LIGHTING TERMS TO TA K E AWAY
The main metrics computed for natatorium lighting are:
• Illuminance/ Brightness: This refers to the light reflecting from an object. This controls contrast which affects seeing. High contrasts can cause distraction and prevent areas from being seen.
• Glare: Good lighting shouldn’t cast direct glare on any surface or cause visual disability, physical strain or injury to swimmers or those on deck.
• Uniformity: Fixture aiming and beam spreads determine uniform coverage over the entire pool and deck to provide a pleasurable experience and reduce glare or isolate zones.
To achieve ideal lighting, the interplay between daylight and artificial light, infrastructure such as HVAC and material finishes should be assessed as part of the overall design to optimize your lighting system and user experience.
We are familiar in collaborating with other project stakeholders and contractors to ensure a cohesive and compatible system that integrates flawlessly.
Products we recommend are the DOME BAY and POOLSIDER.
Jump in with us…
The pool is the draw. Be it for the for sun worshipers and leisure sharks to gather round or Navy Seal level athletes to set records. The pool represents community, fun, health, serenity, athleticism and luxury. It’s a value add to any property almost always increasing its value both on paper and the quality of lifestyle.
We have the perfect lighting. Just add water...but first call us!
• Free design assist services: We are glad to direct you on the best way to use our products and design your facility. Feel free to contact us for assistance
• Retrofitting: Through our easy-to-use customer contact services, you can tell us your existing lighting specifications. Let us know if you desire a “one for one” replacement with same specifications or require a new more efficient upgrade
• Energy Management: We can assist you in lowering your total overall energy and maintenance costs by switching to longer lasting more energy efficient LED Lighting
• Spare part services: With our extensive range of products and customer satisfaction at heart, we provide spare parts for our lighting systems
DIRECT & INDIRECT
VOLTAGE: 100-277V (UNV) / 277-480V (HV)
MOUNTING: EYE BOLT / PENDANT MOUNT
The Dome Bay is an extremely versatile, Direct /Indirect, highperformance LED sports high bay that is ideal for both outdoor and indoor sports lighting applications. With its flexible, modular design the Dome Bay is specifically engineered to illuminate swimming pools, tennis and soccer domes, gyms, arenas and more.
• LED Driver: Lumileds
• Lumen Maintenance @L70: >50,000 hours
• CRI: RA>80
• THD: <15%
• Power Factor: >0.95
• Operating Temperature: -40ºC to 60ºC / -40ºF to 140ºF
POOLSIDER DIRECT & INDIRECT
VOLTAGE: 120-277V (UNV) / 277-480V (HV) (REMOTE DRIVERS ONLY)
MOUNTING: YOKE MOUNT (STD) / PENDANT MOUNT / CROSS ARM BRACKET
The Poolsider is a modular LED flood light specifically designed for the caustic environment of Natatoriums, but versatile enough to be used in any flood light application. Multiple optical lens choices, and rotatable modules allow a wide variety of light spread for various use both indoor and out.
• LED Engine: Philip Lumileds 50502, CREE 3524 for 10D ONLY
• LED Driver: Meanwell XLG
• Lumen Maintenance @L70: 75,000 hours
• CRI: >70 Ra
• Power Factor: >0.95
• Operating Temperature: -40ºC to 60ºC / -40ºF to 140ºF
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