We're converting all street lights in the city to energy-efficient LED lighting

Installers changing street lights

The Council owns 38,000 street lights across our road network.

It is our intention to have all these lights upgraded to modern LEDs by 30 September 2021.

As of June 2021 the project has replaced over 28,000 lights with 1037 remaining to be upgraded to LED.

You can see the areas where we are currently working(external link) and the percentage of main road lights completed below.

With the main road lighting, some lights will need to be set to their design wattage through the smart control network after being installed. This will mean lights will run brighter for a few days. This has been done to minimise the different lights needed, allowing for cost savings through bulk purchasing.

  • The lights that have previously been used to light our streets were inefficient compared to the modern LED lighting now being installed.
  • When all street lights in the city have been upgraded to LED the Council will save more than $1.5 million each year.
  • The completed upgrade will see Christchurch reduce carbon emissions by approximately 1500 tonnes per year.
  • The neutral white light gives increased colour rendering providing greater clarity for a safer transport environment.
  • LEDs provide a very directional source of light reducing wasted light spilling into adjacent properties and into the night sky.
  • A centrally controlled system allows for lights to be dimmed when demand is low creating additional opportunities for increasing efficiencies.
  • Faults will be picked up immediately by the centrally controlled system.
  • A greater lifespan of the lights reduces maintenance costs and reduces disposal waste, positively impacting on the environment. Disposed LED lights also contain no hazardous elements to manage, unlike the lights they are replacing.

With the old lights a lot of light was wasted to the surrounds, such as adjacent properties, trees, and into the night sky. 

To meet the requirements of the road lighting standards the old lights had much higher light output to compensate for the wasted light. 

The new LED street lights direct all the light in the downward direction and reduce light spill into adjacent properties. 

Some may perceive that the street appears darker than before, however this is due to the reduced light spill into trees and adjacent properties.

The new lighting illuminates the road and paths to the same or better standard while considerably reducing the amount of artificial light going into the environment.

  • It is unlikely there will be any direct impacts to you while your area is being upgraded. T and the lighting network will remain in operation during the work.
  • There will be no road works required or loss of power to your home.
  • At this time we have no plans to upgrade lights on private driveways.
  • In some instances, lights will need to be set to their design wattage through the smart control network after being installed. This will mean lights will run brighter for a few days. This has been done to minimise the different lights needed, allowing for cost savings through bulk purchasing.
  • The replacements require minimal traffic management, which reduces impacts on roads and traffic.
  • The majority of minor traffic roads are complete, and we've now turned out focus on changing lights on higher volume roads.

The project has replaced practically all standard low-wattage and higher wattage residential area lights with the total lights replaced as of the end of June 2021 at over 28,000.

The main focus is now on the 3500 decorative lights with those upgraded shown below in green and those remaining in yellow.

Another focus has been Akaroa with the below map showing lights upgraded in green and those remaining in yellow.

Excessive amounts of light pollution have been shown to impact upon the natural patterns of wildlife. The upgrade to modern LEDs will see a reduction in the levels of light produced by street lighting. LED lighting is more directional than existing lighting in Christchurch creating less spill and upward waste light. The Council has opted to reduce upward spill light to less than the 1% currently accepted by the NZTA. In the majority of cases zero is being achieved.

The Council is currently supporting a study by NIWA Taihoro Nukurangi in the Christchurch area to get real data on the effects of various LED lighting on insect population. We will be using the results from the study to better inform the lighting used in known environmentally sensitive areas.

We will further reduce the quantity of light being placed in the environment by dimming lights at times of low demand.

The Council has followed industry recognised safety standards to provide safe roads and pedestrian environments. NZ Transport Agency state “The LED lights we most often use are 4000K (a neutral white light) as current research into light and road safety indicates this is the best and safest colour temperature for object recognition for drivers and pedestrians”.

4000K lighting is more efficient than 3000k and so it maximises the reduction in power consumption, reducing the overall carbon usage by 1500 tonnes per year once all lighting has been upgraded.

Does the lighting operate on 5g?
No. The network operates on the public radio frequency between 915-928 MHz.

Are the lights being used as part of the 5g network?
No. The luminaires that have been and are currently being installed are not designed for use with the 5G network.

Do the lights have cameras on them?
No. The coffee cup-sized attachments on top of the lights are light controllers and enable the lights to be connected to the network. See the manufacturer's specifications for more information(external link).

What lights are being used?
A variety of lights are being used to best fit the specific design parameters for the location. Our streetlighting materials page provides details about the NZTA M30 list of approved luminaires.