Hawaii lighting ordinances can be confusing and hard to understand. Like many dark-sky friendly communities, lighting regulations in Hawaii County are designed to keep the night sky clear and the stars visible. In addition to preserving the rare natural beauty of the island, dark-sky friendly lighting allows astronomers at observatories like the W.M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea to see astronomical bodies like stars and planets. Light pollution can obscure the views of telescopes and night-sky cameras and make it impossible for researchers to do their job.


Hawaii 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 11pm 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.


Low Pressure Sodium vs. PC Amber LED

Hawaii lighting ordinances emphasize low pressure sodium lighting for outdoor fixtures. Low pressure sodium lighting is a type of induction lighting that is a cousin of fluorescent and neon lights. Low pressure sodium lamps are traditionally used for street lighting, tunnel lighting, and other industrial forms of lighting that do not require a high CRI. The benefit of LPS from a dark-sky friendly perspective is its very narrow wavelength. The narrow wavelength of LPS ensures that it doesn’t obstruct astronomers’ or stargazers’ views, unlike broad-UV spectrum light.

However, PC Amber, which is a very specialized type of LED lighting, provides all the benefits of low pressure sodium without the drawbacks of induction lighting. It also provides better color rendering and higher lumen output with no additional light pollution. The chart to the right shows the difference between LPS and PC Amber LED.


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.


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.


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.


Illuminate Responsibly with Full Cut-Off 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 or any other outdoor project, get in touch with an Access Fixtures lighting specialist at 800-468-9925 or by emailing [email protected].

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