Ringing in an energy-efficient new year

Consumer Reports News: December 31, 2008 03:31 PM

If your New Year's Eve plans include watching the festivities on TV, be sure to tune in at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time, when a bigger, brighter, and more energy-efficient ball will start to drop over New York City's Times Square. I saw the ball up close during its unveiling last month, and it's a stunning spectacle.

The first Times Square New Year's Eve ball drop took place in 1907, when a 700-pound wood-and-iron ball signaled the start of 1908. This year's ball is twice as big as any previous version, a geodesic sphere that weighs nearly 12,000 pounds (shown). It's covered in 2,668 Waterford crystals and powered by more than 32,000 Philips Luxeon Rebel lights. These LED lights can create more than 16 million colors and billions of patterns, producing a magical kaleidoscope effect. The ball consumes the same amount of electricity per hour as it takes to heat two ovens, making this the most energy efficient ball ever, Philips claims.

The ball will be on display throughout 2009, so if you plan to visit New York City next year, stop by Times Square at night to see the ball.—Kimberly Janeway

Essential information: Learn more about LED lights and check out our Buzzword on solid-state lighting.

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