Shining Bright: Holiday LED Lighting 2013

‘Tis the season for LED holiday displays. Here’s a round-up of some rather interesting displays in 2013.

Rockefeller Center, New York, New York

This world famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, a 75-year-old Norway spruce, is illuminated by 45,000 rainbow LEDs and features a 550 lb., 9.5-foot-wide Swarovski crystal star on top.

Rock Center xmas 2013 2

 

 

 

 

 

The National Christmas Tree, Washington, DC

GE provided the design and lights for the National Christmas Tree for the 51st time this year. This year’s tree features 110 LED net lights and 225 LED string sets – all Energy Star® qualified, and 265 LED spherical ornaments. The total wattage is about 5700 watts – saving 80% energy as compared to incandescent holiday lights.  That’s equal to saving one ton of coal, and nearly a 5700-pound reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

National Xmas Tree 2013

 

 

 

 

Trafalgar Square, London, England 2013

Each year since 1947 Norway’s capital city Oslo has donated Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square, to thank Britain for its support during World War II.  The tree stands 20 meters tall and features about 900 LED lights.

Trafalgar Square 2013 Tree

 

 

 

 

 

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Sponsored by Bradesco Seguros, this Rio tree is the largest floating Christmas tree in the world. Towering 85 meters into the sky, the tree floats slowly around the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone) throughout the holiday season.  It features over three million microlights, two thousand strobe effects, one hundred meters of hoses and one hundred LED reflectors.

Rio X mas Tree

 

 

 

 

 

Delray Beach, Florida

The 100-foot tall Christmas tree is festively illuminated with over 15,000 LED lights, carefully decorated with 39,000 ornaments, and contains 3000 branches.

Del Ray Beach 100 Ft Christmas Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shiodome, Tokyo, Japan

The Caretta Shiodome, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, located in the elegant 51-story Dentsu Building, hosts the “White X’mas in the Sea” featuring a vast ocean of LED lights and an illuminated, animated display on the walls of the shopping center.  The light show incorporates interactive 3D projection mapping, allowing visitors to influence the appearance of the video sections of the illumination and the rhythm of the soundtrack by clapping their hands.  Here’s a link to a video showing how the display was put together as well as its premier complete with school kids clapping.

Tokyo Shiodome 2013 Xmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Further Reading

Clearlysapphire.com, The Evolution of Christmas Lights – From Incandescent to LED, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=313

 

Decorating for the holidays – LED vs. Incandescent

The Griswold House from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

The Griswold House from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

It’s that time again and Christmas displays are popping up in and on homes all around the world.  As we watch retailers like Home Depot and Walmart reduce prices on LED light bulbs, the same is happening with LED Christmas lights.  So, is it time to make the switch?

Depending on your tastes, LED lighting for Christmas holiday decorating can be a quick affair with a few strings of lights on your Christmas tree or can be a large artistic expression in light on your home like you’re Clark Griswold of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie.

Let’s take a look at some of the facts.

LED lighting for the holidays is safer – they’re not hot to the touch, so they won’t start a fire, especially if lit for a long period of time. They’re sturdier and made of epoxy lenses rather than plastic or glass like traditional incandescents.  They’re longer-lasting and could be in use 20 or even 40 years from now.  And they use less energy (about 80 percent) so that you can connect more strings together in series without blowing a fuse (your’s and the lights).

You might remember the moment in Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold turned on the Christmas lights on his home (decorated with 25,000 incandescent imported Italian twinkle lights) and caused a major power outage in the city of Chicago.  While you might not take out your local power grid, you might be concerned with your electric bill if you tend to decorate like a Griswold.  You may want to consider some information that the US Department of Energy put together information about energy requirements of Christmas lighting.

According to the DOE, it can cost up to $10 to light a six-foot tree, 12 hours a day for 40 days using large C-9 incandescent lights while incandescent mini-lights would cost about $2.72.  LEDs on the other hand would cost 27 cents or 82 cents respectively to light that same tree for the same period of time.  Over a decade, it could be quite costly to stick with incandescents.  The DOE table is below.

Retailers are bringing more LED Christmas lights to consumers.  According to a recent article in the Kansas City Star newspaper, Walmart dedicated half of its shelf space to LEDs. Costs are coming down from $5 for a string of 50 mini LED lights, down from $6.30 last year.  In fact, Costco won’t sell incandescent Christmas lights in 2013.  General Electric, selling holiday lights since 1903, anticipates that two out of every five strings of lights sold this year will be LEDs.

So, it may be time to ditch the old fashioned Christmas lights for some new LEDs.  And for a laugh and some holiday cheer, watch Christmas Vacation or this clip from the movie where the Griswold’s incandescent Christmas lights take down the Chicago power grid.

US DOE Christmas Light Info

Estimated cost of electricity to light a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days

Incandescent C-9 lights $10.00
LED C-9 lights $0.27
Incandescent Mini-lights $2.74
LED Mini-lights $0.82

 

Estimated cost* of buying and operating lights for 10 holiday seasons

Incandescent C-9 lights $122.19
LED C-9 lights $17.99
Incandescent Mini-lights $55.62
LED Mini-lights $33.29

*Assumes 50 C-9 bulbs and 200 mini-lights per tree, with electricity at $0.119 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) (AEO 2012 Residential Average). Prices of lights based on quoted prices for low volume purchases from major home improvement retailers. All costs have been discounted at an annual rate of 5.6%. Life span assumed to be three seasons (1,500 hours) for non-LED lights.

For Further Reading & Viewing

Kansas City Star, Christmas lights are going green, http://www.kansascity.com/2013/11/10/4612642/christmas-lights-are-going-green.html

Energy Manager Today, LEDs Lead the Way for Holiday Lights

http://www.energymanagertoday.com/leds-lead-the-way-for-holiday-lights-096959/

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Griswold Home Power Outage Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inWKw8nqQlI

US DOE Info:  http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/led-lighting

LED Applications – Celebrating the Royal Birth in LEDs

London and the world celebrated the birth of the latest heir to the British throne, Prince George Alexander Louis, in style with LEDs.  A number of landmarks in London turned blue to celebrate the occasion and even a few outside of the UK turned blue in honor of the future king.  For a video, go to this BBC story.

The 600 foot tall BT Tower used more than 500K LEDs for the announcement:

royal baby BT Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The famous London Eye ferris wheel turned red, white and blue:

Royalblu_381

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fountain at Trafalgar Square marked the occasion in blue:

Trafalgar square

 

 

 

 

 

Even the London Bridge turned blue:

London Bridge in Blue

 

 

 

 

 

Not to be outdone, North America celebrated too with Niagra Falls turning blue:

Niagra Falls Blue

 

 

 

 

 

Toronto’s CN Tower:

Toronto CN Tower

 

 

 

 

 

Christchurch Airport in New Zealand turned blue too.

Christchurch Airport NZ

 

 

 

 

 

For Further Reading and Viewing

The BBC, Royal baby: London landmarks turn blue for birth, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23416932 (video)

The Daily Mail, The world turns a Royal shade of blue, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2374793/Kate-Middleton-gives-birth-Royal-baby-boy-landmarks-globe-illuminated.html

The LED Revolution in 2013 – Advances in LED Light

NY Times Square New Year’s Ball 2013, http://timessquareball.net/new-years-eve-ball-history/

The BBC recently put together a video about the LED Lighting Revolution that was jam packed with lots of information about the latest advances in LED lighting for 2013.  It also brings great video of LED upgrades to the Times Square New Year’s Ball in New York and the new LED lighting at New York’s Empire State Building that you might not have seen yet.

The New Year’s Celebration at New York’s Times Square is known worldwide for the crystal ball that has been dropped at midnight since 1907.  The ball, made by Philips and Waterford, got a makeover in 2007 when they changed the light source from incandescent bulbs to LEDs. But each year the LED-based ball gets a little bit better. The BBC video details how Philips and Waterford joined together to ensure that the legendary sparkle of the ball wasn’t lost with LED’s directional light.  The ball designers used special reflectors and baffles (seen in the video) to make sure the light refracts correctly with the crystal.

The 2013 Ball features 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles bolted to 672 LED modules attached to an aluminum frame.  The Ball is illuminated by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs. Each LED module contains 48 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs – 12 red, 12 blue, 12 green and 12 white to a total of 8,064 of each color. The Ball is capable of creating a palette of more than 16 million colors.

Not only does the ball look better, but the new ball brought energy savings 90% with double brightness by going LED in 2007. One year later, improvements saved 30 percent more energy.  The improvements have been so great that they keep the ball lit all year, every day.

The LED retrofit of the Empire State Building (ESB) was completed earlier this year, but the people at the BBC show the retrofit developed by Philips Color Kinetics in detail.  The new programmable LED light system brings 16 million colors. The old lighting system for the ESB meant 9-10 men manually changing large colored gel disks in a process that took all day. Now, the managers can update the new color palette – which can be daily — at a touch of a button.

Recently, we detailed the new 3-Way SWITCH LED Light Bulb at CES. The BBC video details how some SWITCH bulbs are made with a new liquid cooling system.  While most LED bulbs are air cooled, the people at SWITCH have developed a special liquid cooled LED bulb.  SWITCH’s advanced LQD Cooling System™ divides the bulb into two parts where half the bulb is a glass globe filled with silicon-based liquid to act as a cooling element.  The LQD Cooling System also includes a patented driver that is both reliable and highly efficient. SWITCH claims that their bulbs offer up to 40% better thermal performance than air-cooled LED bulbs.

The BBC video ends with a look at how 2013 will be different for personal, customizable LED lighting that can be controlled by a tablet or smart phone. Using an onscreen color palate or personal photo on a tablet, users can change the light from the LED lamp.

For Further Viewing

BBC, The LED Lighting Revolution, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/9782116.stm

 

The Evolution of Christmas Lights – From Incandescent to LED

NOMA Bubble Lites – Do you remember these on your Grandma’s tree?

Decorating with lights has been in vogue from the beginning of the light bulb.  Even Thomas Edison decorated his lab with a strand of bulbs in 1880.  The first Christmas lights were fashioned by Edison’s business partner, Edward H. Johnson, when he took a strand of red, white and blue lights and dangled them around his Christmas tree.

The first breakthrough in popular holiday lighting was in 1903 when GE made Christmas lighting kits affordable.  Until that time, lighting a Christmas tree with lights required a bit of electrical savvy and a budget that would equal $2,000 US in today’s money.  Albert Sadacca further popularized Christmas lighting with his company NOMA Electric Company in 1925. NOMA licensed its name to 15 smaller firms to sell their lights.  NOMA was responsible for innovations like fused safety plugs (1951), all-rubber cords (1940), and Bubble Lites (1946).

While Noma went bankrupt in 1965, Christmas light technology remained relatively static until just recently with the introduction of LEDs. New LED strings use 80% less electricity while burning much cooler. LEDs also offer programmability and virtually unlimited color and design capabilities.  Just think what the Griswolds from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation could do with LEDs!

Here’s a look at some of the more colorful and innovative holiday displays around the world in 2012.

Rockefeller Center, New York, NY — The 80 foot tall Christmas tree features 45,000 LEDs

Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, New York, NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Niagara Falls, NY & Canada– The three waterfalls (Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls) as well as 120 additional displays are lit up with more than 3 million lights for the holidays.

Lighting up Niagara Falls, Christmas 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Champs-Élysées, Paris – One of Paris’ most famous thoroughfares is lit up with LEDs along 2 kilometers.

Holidays 2012 along the Champs-Élysées, Paris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo – ZooLights, the zoo’s18th annual winter festival, features two million LED lights.

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights Festival, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights– While the family Christmas light display started at a modest 1000 lights, the Osborne’s home display in Arkansas grew so large that the family shares their magic with Disney every year.  Their display moved to Disney World in 1995 residing on the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park and now features more than 5 million LED lights set to music.

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney World in Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Fact

In 2011, the National Retail Federation and BIG Research expected Americans to spend more than $6 billion on Christmas decorations, up more than 8% from last year and the most spent over the seven years the group began tracking this type of spending.

Further Reading

AP, HOLIDAY EVENTS: TREES, LIGHTING DISPLAYS AND MORE, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/holiday-events-trees-lighting-displays-and-more

The Telegraph, Champs Elysees lights up with Christmas sparkle, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/8911607/Champs-Elysees-lights-up-with-Christmas-sparkle.html

Huffington Post, Holiday Displays Around The World Light Up Global Landmarks,  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/28/holiday-displays-around-the-world_n_2200170.html

Solid State Technology, (US) National Christmas Tree, tested by storm, awaits lighting, http://www.electroiq.com/leds/2012/12/05/national-christmas-tree-tested-by-storm-awaits-lighting.html?cmpid=EnlLedDecember122012