Earth Day 2014 – Companies Get Greener

Walmart goes for LEDs

Walmart goes for LEDs

In honor of Earth Day 2014, we’ll take a look at how some companies are leveraging LEDs to save energy, bring new aesthetics to their businesses and even save that other valuable resource, money.

Starbucks is committed to using LED lighting in their coffee houses globally. By 2010, Starbucks was able to complete installation in more than 7,000 company-owned stores in the United States, Canada, the UK, China and Singapore. According to Starbucks, This effort has helped reduce the company’s electricity consumption by 3.3 percent since 2008 along with other measures. In FY2011, the company said that electricity use had decreased by more than 7.5 percent since 2008 with a goal of 25 percent by 2015.

Most recently worldwide discount chain Walmart, along with their lighting vendor GE, announced that Walmart will convert to energy-efficient LED ceiling lighting fixtures for new supercenters in the United States, stores in Asia and Latin America, and Asda locations in the United Kingdom. The new fixtures will use 40 percent less energy than lighting sources historically used in stores, and will help the retailer achieve a 20 percent reduction in the kilowatt hour (kWh) per square foot of energy required to power Walmart’s buildings globally by 2020.

Philips worked with Harrods to convert their Wedgewood display to LED lighting in their famous department store in Knightsbridge, London. LEDs replaced halogen lamps in the chandeliers bringing the sparkle back to the Wedgwood area. The LED lighting provides a 74% reduction in installed electrical load, considerably lower heat gains and reduced maintenance requirements. “The chandeliers now look brilliant and the floor staff is very happy with the new candle lamps. We will be specifying them for all of the chandeliers throughout the store in the future,” said Mark Fleming, Harrods Engineering Technical Manager, in a Philips case study about the project.

The New England Aquarium (NEAQ) in Boston recently installed over 160 LED fixtures from Lumenpulse, a leading manufacturer of high-performance, architectural LED lighting solutions.  The project, by Lighting design firm Available Light, enhanced the overall visitor experience, improved animal care with a more naturalistic lighting approach, and even helped biologists curb the growth of algae in the NEAQ’s Giant Ocean Tank (GOT) through LED lighting.

Part of a six-year renovation of the NEAQ, the goal of the lighting project was to bring a sense of theatricality to the aquarium, highlighting the animals and coral reef with new dynamic lighting based on a unique WGB color mixing system that uses white, blue and green LEDs to show off the water while inhibiting algae growth.

“We learned that higher color temperatures are less conducive to algae growth,” said Matt Zelkowitz, Assoc. IALD, LC Principal at Available Light, in a press release. “Red light did not really penetrate or affect the water, while blue and green were magical in manipulating tonality.”

For Further Reading

LEDs Magazine, Starbucks converts US stores to LED lighting, http://www.ledsmagazine.com/articles/2009/11/starbucks-converts-us-stores-to-led-lighting.html

Walmart, Walmart and GE Transforming Retail Lighting with Energy-Efficient LEDs Globally, http://news.walmart.com/news-archive/2014/04/09/walmart-and-ge-transforming-retail-lighting-with-energy-efficient-leds-globally

Philips, Harrods, UK, http://www.lighting.philips.com/main/projects/harrods.wpd

LEDs Magazine, New England Aquarium recaptures spotlight with Lumenpulse LED lighting fixtures, http://www.ledsmagazine.com/content/leds/en/ugc/2013/10/new-england-aquarium-recaptures-spotlight-with-lumenpulse-led-lighting-fixtures.html

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

Happy Birthday LED! LEDs Turn 50!

Nick Holonyak created the first visible-spectrum LED in 1962. Photo: Courtesy of Nick Holonyak/GE

50 years ago on October 9, 1962, GE scientist Dr. Nick Holonyak, Jr., invented the first practical visible-spectrum light-emitting diode (LED) while his colleagues were working on a laser using light in the invisible IR spectrum.  According to Holonyak, he was mystified that his colleagues were using invisible IR light. “If they can make a laser, I can make a better laser than any of them because I’ve made this alloy that is in the red-visible,” said Holonyak. “And I’m going to be able to see what’s going on. And they’re stuck in the infrared.”

GE scientist Dr. Robert N. Hall was working toward realizing a semiconductor laser in the infrared with GaAs (Gallium arsenide), Holonyak aimed for the visible with GaAsP (gallium arsenide phosphide). On October 9th, with GE colleagues looking on, Holonyak became the first person to operate a visible semiconductor alloy laser, the device that illuminated the first visible LED.

His colleagues at GE at the time dubbed the device ‘the magic one’ because its light, unlike infrared lasers, was visible to the human eye.  Holonyak was confident that he was onto something big.  In a GE interview, he remembers feeling that he was onto something big when ‘the magic one’ first lit up.  “I know that I’m just at the front end but I know the result is so powerful,” he said.  “There’s no ambiguity about the fact that this has got a life way beyond what we’re seeing.”

Today, LEDs can be used for a range of lighting and industrial applications from simple indicator lights to LED street lights, LED light bulbs for the home, office and commercial applications in retail including Home Depot, IKEA, Starbucks, Target, and Wal-mart, and even to regional grocery and convenience stores like Food City and Wawa.  LEDs also are used for display and backlighting in stadium TVs to consumer HDTVs and today’s smart phones and tablets like the iPad.

For Further Reading and Viewing

GE Video Interview, Nick Holonyak, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKkzBVNozjI

Solid State Technology, GE News Release, LED Inventor Nick Holonyak Reflects on Discovery 50 Years Later, http://www.electroiq.com/semiconductors/2012/10/10/led-inventor-nick-holonyak-reflects-on-discovery-50-years-later.html

LED 50th Anniversary Symposium,  http://www.led50years.illinois.edu/

Wired, How Lasers Inspired the Inventor of the LED, http://www.wired.com/design/2012/10/holonyak-laser-led-inventor/