First Baptist Church

Beverly, Massachusetts, USA

Photo Credits: Robert Sansone, Sansone Photography

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Installation Description
Visible from both the land and the sea, the First Baptist Church’s two hundred year old steeple serves as a landmark for parishioners as well as visitors and residents in this Massachusetts coastal community.

Design Objective
In the fall of 2008, parishioners of the First Baptist Church unanimously voted to renovate the church’s historic but aging steeple. The restoration plan included additional renovations to the steeple’s exterior lighting. The new lighting design aimed to fully illuminate the steeple’s upper half, while keeping energy consumption to a minimum. Because they need to be replaced frequently, the conventional light fixtures that had traditionally illuminated the steeple were problematic, as replacement and maintenance was virtually impossible in this hard-to-access location. Consequently, the lighting design called for fixtures with long lifetimes and minimal maintenance requirements.

Why was an LED lighting system chosen over a conventional lighting system?
The design team chose Philips LED lighting fixtures because they consume less energy, require far less maintenance, and offer an estimated lifetime of 50,000 hours of use.

How Did They Do It?
The church staff worked with renowned church renovating specialists, American Steeple & Tower Co., Inc., to update the historic spire. For their lighting needs, they turned to local resident Scott Ferriero of Boston Light Source.

Before the renovation, the steeple used just eight 150-watt incandescent floodlights to illuminate the top of the spire only. The former lighting scheme called for four sets of lights — each set comprised of two lamps — which were installed on metal arms that extended approximately 3 ft (914 mm) from the seven-sided structure. The lighting ran from dusk until dawn, and because so few fixtures were used, energy consumption was not a large concern.

Problems arose due to the fixtures’ hard-to-access location. The lamps could only be replaced when a steeplejack was hired, which only occurred every seven to eight years when the steeple was painted. The incandescent sources had an estimated lifetime of just 4,000 hours, which meant that the fixtures would always burn out long before they could be replaced, leaving the steeple in the dark.

When choosing the right fixtures to illuminate the refurbished spire, the design team wanted to expand the lighting to fully illuminate the upper half of the steeple. They also required light sources that closely matched the cool color temperature of the former system. And most importantly, they wanted fixtures that required no maintenance and would last until the next painting of the steeple — or even longer.

Philips white-light LED fixtures in a cool color temperature of 4000 K proved to be the ideal option. The replacement fixtures yielded an energy savings of 58%.