This post was written by Keith Dawson for UBM Tech’s community Web site All LED Lighting, sponsored by Philips Lumileds. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the All LED Lighting site may go dark at any time. This material is Copyright 2013-2015 by UBM Americas.

2014-12-05

Holiday LED Lights: Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

The lighting displays are twice as big and twice as numerous this year. Can anyone say "energy efficiency rebound?"

We looked askance last year at the strong tendency of humans to try to banish the night, especially in the holiday season that falls around the darkest time of the year.


(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

LED Christmas lights save so much energy relative to their incandescent forebears that it has to be tempting to add just a few more strings. We see the evidence of this rebound effect everywhere around the world this year.

How much more light are we stringing, compared to last Christmas season? It's impossible to know in any rigorous way, but here is one data point: The man who captured the Guinness record last year for most lights on a residence, David Richard of Canberra, Australia, won by mounting 502,165 LED lights on 31 miles of wiring.

This year the same man took a different Guinness record -- for the largest image ever made with LED lights -- using 1,194,380 twinkling bulbs arranged along 75 miles of wire. Richard bested an Uzbekistani man who had held the record with 1,012,840 lights.

Using our Christmahanakwanzika calculation of a few days back, we can figure that Richard's display cost him over $27 in electricity per night last year, and $65 this year. (All in a good cause: Last year Richard's display raised $138,000 for a sudden infant death syndrome charity, and he expects to beat that figure this year.)

Here are a few evidences of the growing holiday illumination excess:

While it may be getting costly in terms of energy, the LED-inspired holiday lighting explosion has other economic benefits: for example, for professional decoration installers. "The Consumer Product Safety Council estimates 15,000 people nationwide end up in the emergency room because of holiday light hanging injuries," MyNorthwest.com reported.

Anyone want to lay odds that next year the holiday displays will double again in size and number?

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