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Upgrading street lights to LED

We have begun replacing residential street lights across the city to LED lighting.

This is part of a nationwide initiative supported by NZ Transport Agency, which is also supported by central government. LED lights are energy-efficient, produce less carbon emissions than standard street lights, require less maintenance, and offer overall better light quality. Over the next 12 months we will replace approximately 7000 street lights in residential areas with LED lights.

  • LED street lights are very energy efficient, which is good from an investment point of view as well as an environmental one.
  • LED lights have an average life of 20 years. Current street lights we use last about four years.
  • LED lights use 50-75% less power compared to standard street lights.
  • LED emits zero upward light waste. It is more directional, resulting in less light pollution into the night sky and less light intrusion into private property.
  • We plan to invest in a central control system for street lights. This will provide us with  more control over the city’s street lighting, allowing us to track the performance of individual lights and controlling them remotely. More detailed work is required in this space before we fully commit to the central control system. 

Below you can see what areas we are working on, how many LEDs and Central Management Systems we are installing per area and the percentage of completion. Works are expected to be complete by early 2020.

Programme area number Programme area LED & Central Management System volumes completed LED & Central Management System percentage complete totals
1 Bethlehem, Te Reti 540 100.00% 540
2 Tauranga, Tauranga Hospital, Sulphur Point, Yatton Park 435 96.67% 450
3 Poike, Pyes Pa, Tauriko 824 88.79% 928
4 Papamoa East 930 91.90% 1012
5 Papamoa West 666 89.52% 744
6 Mount Maunganui, Omanu, Te Maunga, Matapihi, Arataki 765 98.58% 776
7 Maungatapu, Welcome Bay 704 98.60% 714
8 Gate Pa, Greerton, Hairini 518 97.74% 530
9 Belleview, Brookfield, Judea, Matua, Otumoetai  804 99.63% 807
10 Powerco-owned power poles 808 69.60% 1161
Totals installed to date   6994 93.10%  
Scope of works   8500   7662
  • Colour temperature of the light. Unless you have existing LED lights in your street, the colour of the light will change from yellow/orange to warm white. 
  • Where the light falls. Due to LED lights being more directional, light patterns may change. Compared to standard lights you may notice minor changes to light levels. A full lighting survey will be undertaken at the end of the project to identify over or under lit areas. Adjustments will be made to optimise light levels.
  • Appearance of the street lights. Decorative street light fittings in some subdivisions and neighbourhood areas will be replaced with LED light fittings. This will affect the look of some street lights.   

An example of a street light with standard lighting that has been upgraded to LED.

The project is being co-funded by Council and NZ Transport Agency. The NZ Transport Agency are paying for 85% of the cost of the project. The project has a 10-year payback on investment, taking energy and maintenance into account. 

The old street lights will be broken down into their component parts and recycled. 

We are replacing the street lights on all residential roads, with the exception of those streets that already meet the current LED standards. The replacement of street lights on major roads will follow after this first phase of the project, subject to NZ Transport Agency funding approvals. Additionally, the replacement of streetlights on poles that have overhead power lines will be undertaken later in the project.

As soon as standard street lights fail, they are replaced by LED. Also, new developments or projects are required to have LED street lights. NZTA covers the state highway lighting and has their own programme concerning LED street lights.

LED lights are very energy efficient, which is good from an investment point of view as well as environmental one. Central government is supporting a nationwide rollout of LED lights by subsidising the project with 85% of the funding. This nationwide investment in LED lights will help reduce peak loads (high demands of energy), that currently require additional power generation via expensive and environmentally damaging coal fired power stations. Not having to use these power stations so often will have huge benefits to New Zealand as a whole, which is why the government is so interested in this initiative.

Upgrading our street lights to modern LED lights will allow us, in the future, to invest in in a central control system. This system will provide us with the opportunity to be more in control of the city’s street lighting network. A central control system will allow us to track the performance of individual lights and control them remotely. We will be able to dim street lights when most people are asleep, but keep them brighter at key spots like pedestrian crossings and certain road intersections. More detailed work is required in this space before we fully commit to the central control system.

The project contractor is McKay, who currently also maintain the city’s street lights.

Blue light from lighting can be minimised by choosing LED bulbs with a ‘warm-white’ colour, rather than ‘cool-white’ or ‘blue-white’. For this reason, Tauranga City Council has chosen a colour temperature of 3000 Kelvin for the residential areas due to the warmer light.

Further information on blue lights

Streetlights currently don't use 5G technology. To communicate with the streetlights, council has secured a licenced band radio frequency which has been issued by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). For further enquiries on either 5G or radio frequency technology, please contact MBIE.

Last Reviewed: 09/03/2020

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Information on streetlights

If you have any questions, please contact our customer services team on 07 577 7000. They are open 24/7, even on public holidays.

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