How does a 7000 pound, 35 foot diameter chandelier using high-brightness LEDs sound to you? Well that's what was installed the other day at the Stanley Theatre in Utica, NY. The manufacturer, Meyda Tiffany based in nearby Yorkville, claims that it is the world's largest LED chandelier. Here are details from the local newspaper and from an industry magazine.
The Stanley is one of those grand old movie houses from the 1920s, in an opulent style called "Mexican Baroque". It's one of the jewels of Central New York. I love going to the place and just looking around. Recently it has undergone a major renovation, including the creation of this world-record lighting fixture. There are two huge advantages to using high brightness LEDs over traditional incandescents: energy efficiency and lifespan. Typical household incandescents last around 1000 hours. By comparison, compact fluorescents last in the neighborhood of 5000 to 7000 hours. LEDs beat both by wide margins, lasting in the vicinity of 50,000 to 100,000 hours.
It is estimated that using traditional incandescents the chandelier would draw around 7400 watts. The LED version draws about 1100 watts for a 6300 watt savings. Assuming the unit is on for 10 hours per day, seven days per week and energy costs 12 cents per kilowatt hour, that's an annual energy bill savings of nearly $3000. On top of this, the maintenance time is a very small fraction of a traditional system.
Of course, none of this even begins to touch on how beautiful it is.
Wow. That really is remarkable.
But would it kill the local paper to have a decent photo? What they have really does not do it justice!
IMO there are also significant energy advantages associated with this sort of thing. Sure you save 6300 watts. But with incandescents the vast majority of that 7400 watts is emitted as heat. Heat that has to be moved or removed. In the winter it is needed but it is up high so you need to use ventilation to get it down to the people. In the summer you have to run an AC unit to shift the heat to the outside. Neither processor nor mechanism is free or highly efficient.
On the solar front a local man installed solar panels on his house. He was an engineer and very careful in figuring out the payback time. He was surprised to find he was using less energy than he had calculated. The difference he had overlooked was that the panels were shading the roof and saving him a bit on AC costs in his Florida home.
IMHO it is sometimes these smaller secondary benefits that might shift the balance toward energy efficiency and these newer technologies.