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Times Square Ball Greener Than Ever

Photonics.com
Dec 2010
NEW YORK, Dec. 30, 2010 — The 103-year-old Times Square Ball, the iconic universal symbol that officially ushers in the new year by "dropping" in Times Square, is more energy efficient than ever, with its 32,256 Philips Luxeon LEDs using the same amount of energy as it takes to operate just two standard home ovens.

Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics became the Ball's official lighting partner for the New Year's Eve celebration of 1999-2000. Back then, the Ball was lit with specially designed "Millennium" halogen bulbs to celebrate the turn of a new century.


The Times Square Ball designed for the new millennium in 2000, on display at the Waterford Crystal Factory. (Photo: Hunter Kahn)

Philips converted the Times Square Ball to its Luxeon LEDs in 2007-08 to mark the Ball's milestone 100th anniversary. The Ball was upgraded to higher-power, more energy-efficient Luxeon LEDs yet again in 2008-09 when its size was doubled. Today's Ball is lit all year round and uses just 12 percent of the energy that would have been required to light it with the original technology, Philips said.

Each module on the Ball has a reported lifetime of 30,000 hours and uses 22 W of electricity. If the Ball was still lit with halogen lamps it would consume 1.1 million KWh, while the new LED Ball uses just 140,000.

The LED modules will last years, compared with months for the halogens, and the red, green, blue and white LEDs can be digitally controlled to create a palette of more than 16 million colors, as well as dazzling lighting effects.

While the first New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square was in 1904, the first to feature a ball lowering atop One Times Square to usher in the new year was in 1907. Here are a few facts about the iconic symbol:
  • The Ball is a geodesic sphere, 12 feet in diameter, and weighs 11,875 pounds. The first Ball was made of iron and wood, weighed 700 pounds, and was covered with 100 light bulbs.
  • Over the past 100-plus years, seven versions of the Ball have been designed to signal the New Year. In 1920, a 400-lb iron Ball replaced the iron and wood one. In 1955, a 150-lb aluminum Ball with 180 light bulbs replaced the iron Ball. In 1995, the aluminum Ball was upgraded with aluminum skin, rhinestones, and computer controls. In 1999, the crystal New Year’s Eve Ball was created to welcome the new millennium. In 2007, modern LED technology replaced the light bulbs of the past for the 100th anniversary of the New Year’s Eve Ball. In 2008, the permanent Big Ball (see photo at right) was unveiled atop One Times Square where it sparkles above Times Square throughout the year.

For more information, visit: www.philips.com
 



    GLOSSARY
    halogen
    Any of the five elements astatine, chlorine, fluorine, bromine and iodine, grouped because their chemical properties are similar.
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