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LED snowflakes light up New York

01 Dec 2004

New York City gears up for Christmas by hanging LED-based snowflakes above its busy streets.

From LEDs magazine

As New Yorkers and tourists pound the streets in search of gifts this holiday season, their attention will no doubt be grabbed by the spectacular snowflakes hanging around throughout the city.

On November 23, Saks Fifth Avenue unveiled its Snowflake Spectacle, a sound and light show on the flagship store's facade. The show features 50 giant snowflakes illuminated with a total of 72,000 LEDs supplied by Philips Electronics.

The fully programmable snowflakes, each of which is unique, took 5000 hours to produce. The 14 large snowflakes are about 20 feet in diameter and weigh around 300 pounds each, while the smaller ones are 8 feet in diameter and weigh 100 pounds.

The installation required 8000 feet of steel and 24,000 linear feet of lighting, as well as 15 color-changing uplights, 40 strobe lights and 13,000 feet of cable.

The LED lights consume only one watt per linear foot, less than one-third the power consumption of the standard solution. The installers expect to be able to replace individual LEDs damaging during removal and re-installation, while conventional incandescent products would have required complete replacement each year.

Erik Bouts, CEO of Philips Lighting, said, "Our LED technology used to illuminate the snowflakes, while being technologically advanced, will provide New Yorkers and tourists alike with a spectacle that truly reflects the simplicity and beauty of a snowflake."

The Saks snowflakes are not the only such use of LEDs in town. If you find yourself at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in New York City in the next few weeks, look upwards.

The giant snowflake suspended 80 feet above you weighs over 1400 pounds and is illuminated by 462 LED and strobe fixtures.

Not only that, but the 17-foot structure contains 12,000 five-faceted prismatic Baccarat crystals. It has been described as "nearly priceless".

The snowflake, made in Germany by the lighting designer Ingo Maurer, replaces a 20-year old structure illuminated by hundreds of 11-watt bulbs.

Tim Whitaker is editor of LEDs magazine

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