The lights you’ll see as the clock ticks down to midnight on New Year’s Eve are the same ones you can install in any home and use in lighting control systems.
“There are 16 million colors and an infinite number of designs and the Ball uses the same energy as two standard wall ovens,” says Silvie Casanova, the head of Lighting Communications at Philips. And she’s got the Department of Energy data to back her up.
In one hour, the six ton ball of steel, crystal and light emitting diodes uses the same amount of energy as two home ovens. (That’s a lot of holiday cookies.)
32,256 red, green, blue and white LEDs create 16 million colors that dance across the skin of the 11,875-pound Times Square New Year’s Eve ball. The same model of Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs are available to consumers, making the night’s biggest stage a demonstration for what homeowners could (hypothetically) do with about 30,000 lights and a home control system.
The globe is comprised of 678 modules made up of 48 LEDs encased in 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that vary in size from 4 ¾ inches to 5 ¾ inches per side. Each module is programmable, much like the strings of lights in one of those enormous holiday displays. The Ball’s modules last about 30,000 hours and use 22 watts of electricity per hour.
The Ball and sign are owned and operated by Countdown Entertainment, which runs that part of the huge Times Square celebration and also runs an amusing Twitter account @timessquareball.
Lighting designer Paul Gregory of Focus Lighting in New York City has designed the display since 2007, when the Ball was switched from halogen to LED technology.
“In creating our concept, we decided that the most important aspect in lighting the ball was that the crystal was beautiful and incredibly sparkly – like a diamond glittering in the sky,” Gregory says in a Q&A press release from Philips.
Fixtures are just as important as the type of light source to lighting designers in homes. The Luxeon Rebel LEDs modules have a lot in common with Philips connected LED product, hue, which is controlled through a mobile app and can change colors based on what you watch on TV, such as gory red for Sharknado or festive green for How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Related: Happy New Year… of LED Efficiency
Philips also provides the lights for the giant 2015 that glow with blinding brightness when the Ball drops. The BR30 indoor/outdoor flood lights are dimmable and can be connected to home control systems.
“When the Ball comes up they go to full brightness, which is why you see that pop of light,” Casanova says.
Today’s Ball is lit all year round and produces 573 tons less of carbon dioxide than its halogen predecessor would have, while using 12 percent of the energy.
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