Shropshire Council

Street lighting facts

How many street lights are there?

There are approximately 6.5 million lighting columns in public ownership in the UK, and of this number some 18,500 street lights are in Shropshire.

What is the cost of operating a street light?

Lamps vary in both size and power consumption, depending on whether they're used in residential areas, on a main road or in a town centre. The average cost of operating a light, inclusive of energy cost and maintenance, is between £40 and £80 a year.

How much energy does a street light use?

Typically, lights on residential roads contain a 35 watt lamp, while those on main roads contain a 150 watt lamp. In simple terms, the electricity consumed by an ‘average’ light will cost between £25 and £65 a year.

How are street lights supplied with electricity?

Lighting columns are normally supplied from the same underground electricity networks which feed your home, these being owned by the electricity companies. Where electricity companies have no networks, for example in rural areas, we provide our own cables.

Why is the light from some street lights yellow/orange?

Lamps used for street lighting purposes are gas discharge lamps, which are much more efficient than the tungsten filament ‘light bulbs’ you may use in your house. The elements contained within the lamps give colour to the light emitted, and the lighting engineer has a large choice of lamps from which to select.

The most common light found in residential areas is the low-pressure sodium lamp which is the most energy efficient lamp available, but it has the drawback that its strong yellow/orange colour makes it difficult to tell the true colours of cars and other objects. High-pressure sodium lamps, which tend to be used more in town centres, emit a pale, honey-coloured light, which gives better colour rendering of the street scene.

More recent technological developments have produced light-emitting diode (LED) lamps which emit a whiter light, and have a longer life and very high efficiency rates. As prices fall, they're likely to become the preferred choice for street lighting.

Is there any legislation governing the positioning of street lighting?

The standards for street lighting are laid down in British Standards BS.5469 and European Standard BS EN 13201.