You know you’re back in Happy Valley when you can see the glow of Beaver Stadium’s Nittany Lion logo lights — since being installed in 2014 they’ve become one of the most recognizable features on campus. But what does it take to operate those lights and how much power do they require? It turns out there’s a lot more to this Penn State landmark than you may think.
The logos, which were assembled in Pittsburgh and transported to Happy Valley, were installed a few weeks apart in May 2014 and illuminated for the first time together on July 14 of that year. While the fixture on the southern board was easily accessible because of its proximity to Curtin Road, a special pad and access drive had to be temporarily built to get the cranes, trucks, and logo itself to the north end zone without destroying the grass. When the lights were taken down this past summer for routine maintenance, a similar temporary drive and support had to be built, but now you can’t even tell it was ever there.
Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant (OPP) is responsible for operating the fixtures themselves. OPP’s Susan Bedsworth explained that 1,400 LED lights power each board but the lights themselves only use 330 watts of electricity. In case you didn’t have to take (or didn’t pay attention in) Physics 212, that’s not that much — in fact, it’s the equivalent of electricity used by a standard coffee pot.
Assuming both logos are turned on, it only costs the university about five to six cents per hour to operate. Per College Township regulations, the lights must follow a regular illumination schedule. Bedsworth said workers set the logos on a timer to automatically turn on at dusk and turn off at 11 p.m. each night.
There is one exception to the rigid schedule, however: nighttime football games. When there’s an 8 p.m. game, the logos are left on until approximately 2 a.m., or whenever the tailgate lights are turned off.
There’s a reason the stadium’s light-up boards are able to radiate for miles — the two boards are the largest Nittany Lion logos throughout campus. Commercial LED lights also last approximately 50,000 hours before they need to be replaced. Therefore if the lights are on for roughly six hours every night, Bedsworth said they won’t even need to be replaced for another 20 years.
Beaver Stadium’s Nittany Lion logo lights can be seen for miles and never fail to impress. Next time you drive back to campus after a weekend at home or take a trip on the Blue Loop late at night, you’ll be able to astonish your friends with a few tidbits on the Beaver Stadium beacons.