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

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