LED snowflakes descend on New York City

Nov. 17, 2004
Many of the giant snowflakes adding to the festive spirit in New York City this holiday season will be illuminated using LEDs.
Saks Fifth Avenue 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 will unveil 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.

Snowflake assembly The fully programmable snowflakes, each of which are 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.

If put end to end, the LED lights would stretch almost from one tip of Manhattan to the other - a distance of some 2 miles.

Saks snowflakeThe 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."

Fifth Avenue and 57th Street

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.
Giant snowflake 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.