Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Christmas Lights

Posted by butalidnl on 3 December 2010

Christmas is associated with light.  This has perhaps because Christmas started off as the Roman Festival of Light – because the days start to get longer again at this time. [Early Christians adapted the Festival of Light holidays to mark the birth of Christ, for symbolic reasons] The nights are indeed long around Christmas time, and it really helps to have lights to celebrate the holidays.

Lights at Ayala Triangle Gardens. Photo taken by Ferdie Llanes

There are all kinds of light shows and displays in the Philippines these days, to mark the holidays.

In Makati, in the Ayala Triangle Gardens, the former Ugarte Field, there is now an impressive show of lights.  What is less known is that these lights are LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes), and thus use a lot less electricity than ordinary Christmas lights. Organizers say that the present lights use only 5000 watts, as compared to 58,000 watts last year. 5000 watts means that for every hour the lights are on, it uses only 5 KWh, costing about Php 60 per hour. Compare this with 58 KWh previously – which cost about Php 70/hour. While costing less in terms of electricity used, buying LED lights will cost you a bit more than ordinary lights – about 4 times more in price. For an ordinary Christmas tree with 100 lights, it would cost about Php 800, while ordinary lights could be bought for about Php 200.  It will take about 3 Christmas seasons to earn back the additional cost of LED lights.

Not only Electricity Cost
If you think of it, the additional electricity used by Christmas lights could be quite excessive, even to the point of overloading the electricity grid. I don’t think this will happen, though, since the lights are used mostly during the night, and overall electricity use at night is much less than it is during the day. But there are other advantages of LED lights.
LED lights are solid-state, making them sturdier than ordinary Christmas lights. This means that they are less prone to damage, and less likely to cause electrocution or fire. LED lights could also be used for a very long time. These are advantages over and above the savings in the electricity they use. And of course, with the constantly rising cost of electricity, the savings from using LED lights could only go higher.
Using LED lights also are a way of supporting this environment-friendly technology. As more and more people use LED lights, these will tend to become cheaper – all kinds of LED lights. This means that LED lights for household use, for example, will gradually get cheaper, inducing more people to buy them. And when this happens, we would have a real chance at reducing our electricity costs.

LED light technology is actually just the opposite of solar panel technology. In the LED lights, electricity is transformed into light; while solar panels transform sunlight to electricity. Thus, as LED lights get used more often, not only will it make LED lights cheaper and more efficient; it will also result in solar panels getting cheaper and more efficient.

So, enjoy your Christmas and the many light shows that it brings. And hope that more and more of those lights will be LED lights.

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