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 its road network.

Over the next three years, we're replacing all of these with LED lights.

We've already replaced more than 10,000 lights, in a fast-track programme that brings efficiency and cost savings. We're also upgrading lights that are at the end of their life cycle.

Why we're changing to LED lighting

  • 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.

What LED lighting looks like

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.


Changing the lights on your street

When we change the lights on your street there will be no roadworks required or loss of power to your home. 

The replacements require minimal traffic management and reduces impacts on roads and traffic.

It is unlikely that there will be any direct impacts to residents while their area is being upgraded and the lighting network will remain in operation during the work. 

We have no plans to upgrade lights on private driveways at this time.

The map below shows the areas that will have LED upgrades between January and July 2019.

Map of Christchurch LED installation zones

To obtain greatest efficiencies the upgrade will follow the Council’s lamp replacement programme which replaces lights that are towards the end of their life cycle.

LED lighting and wildlife

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 Red Zone 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.

Why the neutral white colour light has been chosen

Council has followed industry recognised safety standards to provide safe roads and pedestrian environments. NZTA 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 upgrade

In August 2014 representatives from the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (Dark Skies Group) and Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Skies Reserve presented to Council.  The recommendation with regard to street lighting was that luminaires should produce no upward waste light and be 4500K or less.