LED street lighting

We are investing to improve the street lighting in Surrey by upgrading it to light emitting diode (LED) technology. You can read more about why we are making this change on the LED conversion report we took to Cabinet in October 2018.

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General information about LED

What is LED street lighting?

LED stands for light-emitting diode. The LED light source is highly efficient and environmentally friendly. It is more controllable than previous types of street lighting as it can be dimmed when necessary and it concentrates light on where it's needed with less light pollution.

Benefits of LED

LED street lighting will:

  • minimise light pollution into homes and gardens by directing light onto the road and pavement where it is needed
  • last longer and reduce likelihood of faults
  • be much more energy efficient and reduce energy consumption
  • be programmable so that it can be dimmed when appropriate.

How long do LEDs typically last?

The life span of the selected LED is designed to operate for around 100,000 hours, or roughly 20 years. This is around 6 times the life span of traditional street lights.

Will I notice a difference between the colour of the old lights and the new LED ones?

No, it is highly unlikely that you'll notice any difference in the colour between the new and old lights. We are using a 'warm white' colour which is very similar to the existing light colour.

Funding and costs

How much will this cost?

We are investing £19.9 million over a 3 year period to convert all the streetlights to LED.

We currently spend £3.5 million a year on energy use for street lights. By converting to LED, we will use around 65% less energy.

This will save £2 million a year (as of prices at February 2020). If energy prices continue to rise as predicted, the saving will be even greater.

How will the works be funded?

The works are being funded through government loans. The majority of the money will come from an interest-free loan. More information can be found in the LED conversion report.

Will I get a reduction in council tax with the savings?

No, there will not be a reduction in Council Tax as a result of this work. There are increasing pressures on the Council's funding and as with most public sector organisations, we continually need to reduce costs. Converting the lights to LED is one of many measures we are taking to contribute to those savings.

Will the street lights be turned back on with the savings?

We currently have no plans to use savings to pay for the part-night lights to be turned back on.

Health and safety of LED's

Are LEDs safe?

Exposure to light from an LED is as safe as being exposed to natural lighting or any other artificial light source.

A study examining the effect of LEDs and other sources to the retina concluded that they do not present any risk to the retina for short exposure times.

Are the reports true that LED lights are harmful and affect sleep?

We are aware that concerns have been raised about blue light exposure from LEDs.

Although extensive research confirms the safety of this technology, we have allayed any health concerns by selecting a 'warm white' colour, which contains less blue light than a 'cool white' colour.

How this might affect you

Will light shine through my window?

No, this should not happen with LEDs. Traditional street lighting tends to spread light in all directions. LED street lighting is less wasteful and directs the distribution of light generally down towards the road pavement to minimise any light intrusion into homes and gardens.

The new LED light no longer provides light for my driveway/garden.

Street lighting is only intended to light the public highway. It is the responsibility of individual property owners to provide lighting within their private property if required.

The shield has been removed from the column outside my house. Can I have it back?

We previously installed shields in locations where residents' properties were adversely affected by the light glare. As LED lights direct light on the roads and pavements, there is no longer a need for the shields. However, in the unlikely event that you are experiencing issues three months after the lights were installed, please contact us.

The works itself

How long with the works take?

We plan to change each of the 89,000 lights in Surrey to LED within 3 years, starting in Guildford in March 2020. Each light will take around 15 minutes, and we will combine it with other maintenance (such as electrical tests) to save time and money.

How will this work affect me?

The work we carry out will not affect access or the electricity supply to your property. It is planned for the majority of the works to take place from Monday to Friday, starting around 8am. Throughout the works we will do everything we can to keep any disruption to a minimum.

Most residents will not notice the changeover and will be unaffected by our work crews. If you live on a high speed road, we may need to close a lane to carry out the work, in which case there will be signs put up on the roads.

Will the changeover be noisy?

No, the works will not be noisy. They will involve a team using a "cherry picker" to change over the lights, much as though they were changing a light that has gone out. The work will generally be undertaken during normal working hours.

How will I find out about works on my road?

To find out when we plan to change the lights in your road, please see our LED street lighting programme below. We cannot give an exact date, but you will be able to see the month in which we plan to do the work.

We have substantially completed works in the following areas (as of March 2023):

  • Elmbridge
  • Epsom & Ewell
  • Guildford
  • Mole Valley
  • Runnymede
  • Spelthorne
  • Surrey Heath
  • Waverley
  • Woking

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