Hawaii Lighting Ordinances & Dark Sky Regulations

Hawaii’s lighting ordinances are intricate and specifically designed to preserve the island’s unique natural beauty and the clarity of its night skies. These regulations facilitate astronomical research at facilities like the W.M. Keck Observatory and support environmental conservation by minimizing light pollution. The complex system of classifications and the strict enforcement, including fines, underline the importance of compliance for residents and businesses. Using technologies such as LED lights plays a pivotal role in maintaining the delicate balance between human activity and the natural environment.

Key Takeaways

    • Defined Lighting Classes: Hawaii’s lighting ordinance delineates three specific classes, each with tailored requirements, emphasizing the importance of fully shielded fixtures to reduce sky glow and light spillage.

    • Adoption of Specialized Lighting Technologies: The regulations promote the use of narrow wavelength low-pressure sodium lights and PC Amber LEDs for their efficiency and minimal light pollution, along with 590nm and red LEDs to reduce ecological impact.

    • Enforcement Through Design: Hawaii mandates full cut-off exterior lighting fixtures and light shields to direct light downward, enhancing compliance with dark sky regulations and preserving the natural night environment.

Understanding Hawaii’s Lighting Ordinances

Hawaii’s lighting ordinances, though complex, are crucial for maintaining the state’s unique environment and astronomical clarity. These regulations align with those of other dark-sky communities, aimed at minimizing light pollution to keep the night sky clear for aesthetic and scientific purposes. This is particularly vital in areas like Hawaii County, home to the W.M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea—a prime site for astronomical research due to its elevation and isolation.


Light pollution can significantly impair the functionality of telescopes, obscuring the visibility of stars and other celestial bodies. It reduces the contrast between the stars and the sky, complicating the detection of faint objects. To combat this, the local ordinances specify using certain lighting fixtures and bulbs that limit sky glow and glare. These measures not only aid astronomical observations but also help preserve the islands’ natural beauty, enhance the experience for tourists, and support the ecological balance by reducing disturbances to nocturnal wildlife. Thus, the complexity of Hawaii’s lighting regulations serves a broader purpose of balancing human activity with environmental and scientific preservation.

Hawaii LED Lighting Ordinances Explained

Hawaii’s lighting ordinances are more complex than most dark-sky-friendly cities are. For example, not even things like neon LED light bars and under-chassis lighting are permitted for vehicles! Hawaii uses a classification system that defines three classes of lighting and the regulations placed on each class of lighting. The chart containing the official ordinances is to the right of this text. Violation of these ordinances is punishable by up to $500 in fines.

Hawaii Class I Lighting is defined as lighting where CRI is important in places such as eating areas, repair shops, and recreational facilities. Lights in this category may be LED or low-pressure sodium but they must be fully shielded. All lights in this category must be off from 11 pm to sunrise.

Hawaii Class II Lighting includes lighting that is used for general illumination of grounds, such as walkway lighting, roadway lighting, and sidewalk lighting. This lighting must also be fully shielded and low-pressure sodium, with no exceptions.

Hawaii Class III Lighting, which is considered to be the least essential type of lighting, includes any decorative lighting such as sconces for buildings, landscape lighting, or pond lighting. All decorative lighting must be fully shielded.

Hawaii Lighting Ordinances and Dark Sky Regulation

Low-Pressure Sodium vs PC Amber LED

Hawaii’s lighting ordinances prioritize the use of low-pressure sodium (LPS) lighting for outdoor applications, such as street and tunnel lighting. LPS, an induction lighting type related to fluorescent and neon lights, is favored for its extremely narrow wavelength. This feature is crucial for dark-sky compliance as it minimizes light pollution that could interfere with astronomical observations, providing a clearer view of the night sky without the dispersion typical of broad-UV spectrum lights.

Contrasting with LPS, PC Amber LEDs offer advanced technology benefits. This specialized form of LED lighting not only matches the low light pollution benefits of LPS but also surpasses it by providing better color rendering and higher lumen output. This makes PC Amber LEDs suitable for applications requiring both environmental sensitivity and enhanced visibility. Therefore, while both lighting types serve the goal of reducing light pollution, PC Amber LEDs offer additional advantages in terms of visual quality and efficiency without compromising the dark-sky-friendly attributes essential in Hawaii.


The chart to the right shows the difference between LPS and PC Amber LED.


Red LEDs

Red LED lights, functioning within the red spectrum, ranging between 620nm and 750nm in wavelength, embody specialized lighting technology. Their particular wavelength proves beneficial in situations where minimizing environmental disturbance is crucial, particularly in outdoor lighting contexts such as adhering to dark sky compliance.

This choice is particularly wildlife-friendly, as the unique wavelength of red light is less disruptive to nocturnal animals and ecosystems. Many creatures are less sensitive to red light, making it an environmentally responsible option.

Additionally, Red LEDs are less likely to impact observatories and sensitive satellite instruments used for astronomical observations, allowing observatories to maintain optimal conditions for detecting faint celestial objects.

In a place like Hawaii, where stringent lighting ordinances aim to safeguard the natural beauty of the night sky and protect unique ecosystems, red LED lights become highly beneficial. Beyond regulatory compliance, these lights provide a warm and gentle glow, ensuring visibility without excessive brightness.

Hawaii Lighting Ordinances Red-LED-635nm

590nm Red-LED Blend

The 590nm Red LED blend artfully merges red LEDs emitting warmth at 590 nanometers, prioritizing outdoor visibility without excessive brightness. This design minimizes light pollution and actively contributes to preserving nocturnal environments, aligning seamlessly with dark sky compliance regulations and demonstrating a commitment to environmentally responsible practices.

Meeting Hawaii’s strict ordinances, these lights emit a gentle 590nm glow, complying with regulations prioritizing preserving the night sky and safeguarding ecosystems. The specificity of this wavelength ensures compliance and plays a pivotal role in minimizing disruption to nocturnal environments.

590nm LEDs

590nm lighting, falling in the yellow-orange spectrum, aids in dark sky compliance by minimizing light pollution, crucial for preserving the natural darkness of the night sky. This wavelength, similar to moonlight warmth, provides gentle illumination without excessive brightness. Dark sky compliance prioritizes subtle lighting in nocturnal environments to mitigate disruptions to wildlife and ecosystems. The choice of 590nm reflects a commitment to responsible outdoor lighting, ensuring visibility without compromising the night sky’s clarity.

In Hawaii, known for environmental conservation, the use of 590nm lights aligns with lighting ordinances protecting the pristine night sky and unique ecosystems. These regulations prioritize minimizing disruptions to wildlife, especially in ecologically sensitive areas. Choosing 590nm lights in Hawaii contributes to compliance with ordinances, offering a warm glow for visibility while maintaining the night environment. Adopting 590nm lights in Hawaii supports the broader mission of preserving its distinct night skies and nurturing diverse ecosystems.

Hawaii Lighting Ordinances - Wavelength-590nm

Illuminate Responsibly with Full Cut-Off Exterior Lighting Fixtures and Light Shields

Full cut-off lighting design minimizes light pollution by directing all light downward, preventing any upward spill into the sky. This approach reduces glare, enhances ground visibility, and preserves the natural darkness of the night sky.

In Hawaii’s lighting regulations, utilizing full cut-off fixtures aligns with the state’s focus on dark sky compliance. To meet Hawaii’s requirements for outdoor lighting that minimizes light pollution and safeguards the night sky’s beauty, installing full cut-off fixtures is essential. By directing light downward and minimizing uplight, these fixtures ensure compliance with the state’s ordinances, contributing to responsible and harmonious outdoor lighting in Hawaii.

Light shields are essential for dark sky compliance, guiding light dispersion to minimize pollution. Designed to prevent upward or outward light spillage, these shields direct light precisely where needed, reducing glare and establishing a controlled lighting environment.

Light shields cover or redirect fixtures in areas prioritizing dark sky compliance like Hawaii, ensuring downward light emission. This focused approach enhances ground visibility while preserving the natural darkness of the sky.


To explore the right light types for Hawaii, contact an Access Fixtures lighting specialist at 800-468-9925 or by emailing [email protected]. Click if you want to learn about a recent project “Dark Sky Bollard Lights for Park City Pathway Lighting.”



Its detailed and rigorous lighting ordinances reflect Hawaii’s commitment to preserving its unique natural and astronomical resources. By adopting advanced lighting technologies such as PC Amber LEDs, 590nm lights, and full cut-off fixtures, the state adheres to these stringent regulations. It sets a standard for responsible outdoor lighting. This careful balance between human needs and environmental preservation ensures the protection of Hawaii’s pristine night skies and diverse ecosystems, making it a leader in sustainable and wildlife-friendly lighting practices.


Frequently Asked Questions About Hawaiian Lights & Dark Sky Lighting Regulations

1. What are Hawaii’s lighting classes and what do they entail?
Hawaii’s lighting ordinances classify outdoor lights into three categories: Class I for critical color rendering areas, Class II for general illumination, and Class III for decorative purposes. Each class has specific requirements for shielding and light types to minimize light pollution.

2. Why does Hawaii prefer low-pressure sodium lights and what are their benefits?
Low-pressure sodium lights are preferred for their narrow wavelength, which minimizes sky glow and light pollution, crucial for preserving Hawaii’s night sky visibility for astronomical research.

3. How do PC Amber LEDs compare to traditional lighting options?
PC Amber LEDs provide better color rendering and higher lumen output compared to traditional low-pressure sodium lamps, without adding to light pollution, making them a more effective option for compliance with dark sky regulations.

4. What are the advantages of 590nm lighting in dark sky compliant areas?
590nm lighting emits a warm glow similar to moonlight, which is less likely to disrupt nocturnal wildlife and helps preserve the natural darkness of the sky, making it ideal for environmentally sensitive areas.

5. How do red LEDs benefit wildlife and astronomical observations?
Red LEDs emit light at a wavelength less perceptible to many nocturnal animals, reducing environmental disturbance. Their specific spectrum also minimizes interference with astronomical equipment, which is essential in areas like Hawaii with significant astronomical research facilities.

6. What role do light shields play in dark sky compliance?
Light shields are crucial for directing light downward and preventing upward spillage, effectively reducing glare and sky glow, which is vital for preserving the natural darkness and minimizing the impact on local ecosystems and astronomical observations.