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

Installers changing street lightsOver 36,700 lights are now connected to the Christchurch smart street lighting network, already saving ratepayers in Christchurch $1.5 million a year in electricity and maintenance costs. Read more on Newsline(external link).

The conversion of the NZTA subsidised street lighting is now complete with the focus now on the following areas of lights on the street lighting network:

  • Parks lighting.
  • Facilities and social housing lighting.
  • Replacing older LED’s not connected to the central management system (CMS).

You can see a map of the lights to be installed over the coming months below.

It is the intention to have all remaining lights upgraded by June 2024. 

Areas currently being worked in

Working on your street

  • It is unlikely there will be any direct impacts on you while these lights are upgraded. The lighting network will remain in operation during the work.
  • There will be no road works required or loss of power to homes.
  • 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 may 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.

Upcoming lights to be upgraded

Why we're changing to LED lighting

The benefits of LED lights

  • The lights that have previously been used to light our streets were inefficient compared to the modern LED lighting now being installed.
  • $1.5 million is being saved as a result of the lights changed to date.
  • To date, the upgrade to LED has reduced carbon emissions by over 1000 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 are picked up immediately by the centrally controlled system.
  • A greater lifespan of the lights reduces maintenance costs and reduces the disposal of waste, positively impacting the environment.
  • Disposed LED lights also contain no hazardous elements to manage, unlike the lights they are replacing.

Effect on wildlife

Excessive amounts of light pollution have been shown to impact 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 achieved. 

NIWA Taihoro Nukurangi has recently released the results of a study carried out in the Christchurch area to get real data on the effects of various LED lighting on the insect population.

They have found that the conversion from HPS streetlights to 4000K LED generally reduced insect attraction, contrary to their initial expectations. To further reduce the attraction to bug life a warmer 3000K colour temperature LED will be used in eco-sensitive areas such as parkland.

What LED lighting looks like

With the older light technologies, a lot of light was wasted in the surroundings, such as adjacent properties, trees, and into the night sky. To meet the requirements of the road lighting standards the old lights had a 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.

Type of lights 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.

We've followed industry-recognised safety standards to provide safe roads and pedestrian environments.

NZ Transport Agency states 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 city's carbon usage by over 1000 tonnes to date.

How the smart network operates

The network operates on the public radio frequency between 915-928 MHz. The luminaires that have been and are currently being installed are not designed for use with the 5G network.

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