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Case Studies

Helping a Lighting Partner Win the Day

In March 2020, Donelson Christian Academy (DCA) was destroyed by a tornado that tore through greater-Nashville. Not only were the main campus buildings left in ruins, but the sports facilities were as well. The DCA Wildcat’s softball complex had lighting poles ripped from the ground, down fences, and collapsed stadium seating.

Helios Energy, an end-to-end energy solution company based in middle-Tennessee, immediately saw an opportunity to help. DCA and Helios, former partners on a campus-wide LED retrofit project, worked together to craft a solution that would not only allow the softball team to get back onto the diamond, but ensure that the entire complex shined like it never had before!

The lighting solution included a full replacement and upgrade of all sports lighting, with special care taken to ensure that all Tennessee State standards for school sports fields were met. In fact, Helios was able to exceed the established hurricane wind standards, so all lights can withstand winds of up to 115mph.

When Helios promised to make the softball complex shine brighter, they also meant “smarter.”

To deliver unprecedented customization, control, and ease of use, Helios established a stand-alone mesh network, independent controls system that can be used anytime, anywhere.

“Helios had the technical and windproof specs covered; they were rock solid, but what we needed from Synapse, in a nutshell, was the promise that if we or the customer could dream it up, they could deliver the software and controls to make it all work as promised."
CHRIS BLACKWELL // Helios Energy

The Helios Team truly went above and beyond to imagine a space with easily configurable lighting that would:

  • Improve the sporting environment for players by pinpointing the key areas where more light was needed.
  • Optimize costs associated with the capital improvement while simultaneously realizing a positive environmental impact, all done by increasing lumen output and reducing energy demand.
  • Enhance utility of the complex by creating specific lighting scenarios that would allow the space to quick shift from a bright, active game setting to a warmer, more intimate venue for ceremonies and coronations.
  • Hit a home run for the DCA family! The devastation caused by the tornado hit students, teachers, and families of the school incredibly hard. Over the course of the 6-month campus-wide rebuild, Helios was committed to making the return to campus an awe inspiring and triumphant one.

“Helios was excited to provide DCA with the control solution from Synapse that enabled dynamic and customized lighting control for special events at the softball complex. The customizable solution allows DCA coaches and staff to emphasize stand-out moments, such as a homerun, with flashing lights or to focus the lights on just the infield for presentations during senior nights. Best of all, the system is easily controlled from a mobile device, computer, or push button switch.”
-- KENNY BUCKLEY // COO at Helios Energy


Helios Energy’s vision for this project was to provide coaches, administrators, and maintenance staff the ability to easily adjust the softball complex lighting experience from their phones or tablets. They wanted it to be:

  1. “Simple, simple, simple.” The system needed to be intuitive to learn and use – no user frustrations.
  2. Agile to accommodate customized scenes that could transform the environment based on what was happening on field.
  3. Secure and reliable, with state-of-the-art software that would work as described.
  4. Functional without dependence on DCA’s WiFi network or other complicated servers, routers, or network equipment.
The SimplySnap Lighting Management Solution delivered on all of these. Like the name suggests, Synapse developed SimplySnap to integrate and scale easily and provide precise controls simply. In this project, the commissioning team was able to easily configure the solution to combine wireless sensors and gateways to create a localized mesh network that provide precise control over each and every light in the stadium to a simple user interface. Through this interface users could
make lighting magic happen, making configuration changes or updates on their own, from their tablets or phones without the need to call in changes to some far-off management company.

With the touch of a button custom scenes would happen immediately. With this power, the imagination of the Helios engineers was set free.

“It was really exciting to see all we could do, and how simply we could do it”, Kenny Buckley, COO, Helios Energy. “We are able to go full bright for game night, adjust dimming in customized scenes, or even draw in the lights for intimate occasions like the presentation of the prom court – even focusing right in on the King and Queen as they were being announced. However, our favorite is what the client calls the ‘home run’ presentation, when all the lights flash and spin wildly across the field after a the Wildcat home run.”


Finally, in addition to precise lighting controls for the field, the SimplySnap solution provided powerful controls to energy cost. By allowing tight control of trim levels, light scheduling, and zones, facility managers can easily control their lights and reduce energy consumption.

  1. 48 sports lights with embedded Synapse Lighting Controllers
  2. 1 SimplySnap — Central Base Station
  3. SimplySnap Wireless Lighting Controls Software
  4. SimplySnap Dynamic Behaviors Software License


Images Courtesy of Helios Energy

Donelson Christian Academy Softball Field