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FYI on street lights

This article was published in March 2020 and may be outdated.

We get a lot of questions about street lights. We’ll answer the most common.

My street lights are on during the day — are you wasting power?

A large number of street lights in Winnipeg — entire neighbourhoods — are connected to a single switch, usually at a different location. When we’re doing work on a broken street light during the day, we turn the switch on. Yes, lots of lights may be on, but it helps us know quickly the work we’re doing on the broken street light is done correctly. Also, most street lights in Winnipeg are now LED, and use a fraction of the electricity the old-style lights they replaced did.

Why is the street light outside my house on all day?

Modern street lights are designed to “fault on”. In other words, if there’s an electrical problem, the light is designed to stay on for safety reasons. It may take a while for it to be reported to us, so the light will be on at night when it’s needed and stay on until we can fix it.

Who’s responsible for street lights in Winnipeg?

We are. We have been since we purchased Winnipeg Hydro in 2002. To report a street light outage, call us at 204-480-5900 or report it online.

What causes a LED street light to flash?

They flash or strobe because there’s not quite enough power to turn them on fully, but enough power to turn them on briefly. Flashing or strobing is usually caused by poor grounding, bad wiring or connections which cause voltage leaking, which we can fix. Other causes are faulty LED chips or drivers, which can be replaced. We often see strobing LEDs in cold weather.

How often do you inspect street lights in Winnipeg for wear and tear?

We have about 75,000 street lights in Winnipeg with more added as the city grows. We inspect street lights about every two years to ensure they’re safe. Age, rust, unreported vehicle contacts and even wild animals burrowing under a street light or chewing wires can all take their toll. We’re gradually replacing the older green street light standards with silver galvanized ones. These standards can weather the elements better and do not require repainting, meaning reduced maintenance costs.