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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.

Why are we changing to LED street 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. 

When does the replacement work start in my area? 

 Please note that the timings below are indicative and may change during the lifetime of the project Work is expected to be complete by early 2020.

Patrol/area Date starting (approx) Date finish (approx)
Matua Complete Complete
Bellevue, Brookfield, Judea Complete Complete
Otumoetai Complete Complete
Bethlehem late May early July
Tauranga South, Gate Pa, Greerton early to mid July mid August
Mount Maunganui north mid August mid September
Mount Maunganui south mid September early October
Papamoa west early October mid November
Papamoa east mid November mid to late December
Pyes Pa mid to late December mid January
Poike, Hairini mid January end January
Welcome Bay, Maungatapu end January mid February
Sulphur Point and City Centre mid February end February

What is going to change?

  • 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.   

Who will be paying for the lights?

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. 

What is going to happen with the old lights?

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

Will all lights in the area be replaced? If not, why not?

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.

Some roads have had their street lights replaced outside of planned works. Why? 

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.

Why are we replacing street lights while the lights are still working?

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.

What are the further consequences of the replacement of the lights?

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.

Who will be replacing the lights?

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

There have been articles about the negative effects of LED lights, mainly caused by the blue light in LED light. What precautions has Tauranga City Council taken to minimise these potential negative effects?

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

Last Reviewed: 20/06/2019

Want more information?

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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