LEDs for the holidays
Article was added on Thursday, December 01, 2016
By Tom Tate
"LED, LED, LED'" (imagine this
being chanted the way "USA" is at the Olympics.) While LEDs won't
necessarily anchor a relay to victory, they are most certainly the
current champions when it comes to energy-efficient lighting. So,
let's discuss using LEDs for your holiday decorating
When I was a kid, we enjoyed
decorating with large painted incandescent bulbs. My dad would hang
them around the front door, and we'd deck out the tree with a
couple of strings. They were glorious! And hot, posing a real
danger when used on a dry tree.
Fast-forward a couple of decades,
and the energy conservation movement created a demand for more
efficient options. Enter the mini incandescent light strings. These
are still widely used today and dramatically reduced the power
consumed by their predecessors.
As is true in our technological
age, manufacturers didn't stop looking for even more efficient
alternatives. This led to the introduction of LED lights. The first
incarnations generated less than appealing garish blues, greens and
reds but quickly softened into a more eye-pleasing spectrum. Today,
LEDs are the undisputed champs of holiday lighting.
You could literally wrap your home
in LED light strings, become visible to the International Space
Station and still have a pleasantly manageable power bill at the
end of it all. Now there is no reason to let concerns over cost of
operation limit your decorating genius.
LEDs are also showing up in other
forms and places. They are available in clear tubes that you can
wrap around objects for extra interest (the tubes glow), and many
yard figures are constructed with these as the main structural
element. Imagine the possibilities!
Now if that isn't enough for your
holiday pleasure, how about wearing some holiday LED bling? Yes, the tacky (but
ever so popular) holiday tie with tiny lights that illuminate has
been around for years. But, combine the advances in LEDs with
conductive paints and micro controllers like the Arduino or
Raspberry Pi and you can create some truly memorable fashions for
the holidays. Just imagine the sensation you can cause at the
office holiday party arriving in a coat of many, many colors. You
could even spell out special holiday greetings with the proper
display or simply glow all night long.
Don't worry about needing clunky
power supplies or treacherous extension cords to keep your fashion
style illuminated. These displays sip electricity from batteries
like a fine wine. Just be sure to turn yourself off before driving
Two of my favorite sources for
such goodies are SparkFun.com and adafruit.com (click the
"wearables" link on both sites).
You have worked hard all year to
reduce your energy consumption to save money and slim down your
carbon footprint. Now reward yourself with a splendid holiday
display that will be the envy of all who see it while still being
miserly with power use.
Tom Tate writes on cooperative
issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the
Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation's
900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric
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