Times Square Ball Has A Greener Glow

A dazzling outfit, a silly hat, your dancing shoes, a date … yes, these are all things you need for New Year’s Eve. But wouldn’t you also like to be armed with facts about the Times Square ball? Offer up a few of these tidbits – provided by ball-lighting company Philips – to your friends and you’ll surely be the life of the party.

First a little history: When Philips hooked up with the Times Square celebration, for the big Y2K shindig, it used halogen lamps. True, halogens can use 20 percent less power than incandescent lights, but they aren’t exactly on the cutting edge of energy efficiency. So for the 2008 ball drop, Philips switched to LED lights. Then for the 2009 drop, when the ball was doubled in size, they upgraded to a higher-power, even more energy-efficient type of LED.

Times Square ball, Philips

image via Philips

Consider this: If the Ball were still burning those halogen lamps – so 20th century – it would use 1.1 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity. The new LED ball, by contrast, uses just 140,000 kWh. According to Philips, “The Ball will consume only the same amount of energy per hour as it takes to operate just two traditional home ovens.” And the numerals on the ball? They’ll  “consume the same amount of energy per hour as it takes to operate just one 40 gallon home water heater.”

In all, the ball uses 32,256 LEDs, each digitally controlled and coming in red, green, blue and white colors “to create a palette of more than 16 million vivid, vibrant, and highly-saturated colors as well as billions of possible lighting effects.” If your thirst for ball knowledge isn’t slaked by now, Philips offers more info on the web with its Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Backgrounder.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

1 Comment

  • Reply December 31, 2010

    Peter O'Connor

    I thought the Times Square ball was made of Waterford Glass.! No??

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