Why we went "Greener" in 2012

See a comparison of the hardware used to run the displays between 2007 and 2020.

Other 2012 Pages:
Main Page
Jan-Feb Build
Mar-May Build
Jun-Aug Build
Sep-Dec Build

Green Earth

Back in 2010 Lithgow Lights explained how we managed to reduce the power drawn from 9000 watts in 2008, to 7000 watts in 2009, down to an impressive 6100 watts in 2010, all while increasing the total light count by almost 22,000 lights in the same time.

2011 saw a further decrease in both light count and power by replacing multiple strings of incandescent lights with a single set of RGB pixels or LED Strings. 2012 sees a continuation of this reduction in power usage by replacing the last 3100 incandescent lights with LED's at a cost of close to $2000 this year, and this should also reduce power consumption by about 1200 watts.

Ropelight Items

The current 2011 240V incandescent ropelight items were the angel, holly, Santa on a Harley and the moving deer. These totalled some 945 Watts, and will be replaced with LED Ropelight that I expect to draw about 200 watts. They will be plain white, but then be painted in sections to give similar colors to the existing items.

The 240V Ropelight deer has been upgraded with white LED's in the same style as the other 4 deer. This has reduced the power usage from 240 to 10 watts.

The upgrade to the Candle and Holly item went from 79.2W to just 11.8 watts, a saving of 67.4 Watts.

The upgrade to the fluttering Angel went from 304.8 watts down to a suprising 36.68 Watts even though the light count went from 400 incandescent lights to 726 LED's.

I upgraded the Santa on a Harley and went from a 720 bulb, 240V roplight item drawing some 321 watts to a 792 LED 24V item drawing just 46 Watts, a saving of 275 Watts.

Cost: $400, plus $60 in paint. Four of five items completed.

Window Silhouettes

The 20 windows in the house were 240V silhouettes. The upgrades on these items have been completed, replacing the fifty globes with an equal number of RGB LED's and a LOT of cable ties (100 to 150 per light frame, depending on the type). The 670 Watts worth of 240V items have been replaced with 199 watts worth of RGB LED's, with the side effect of allowing us to alter the color of the silhouette items to whatever is required at the time to suit the rest of the display.

All 20 if the items have now been upgraded and an additional "Spare" silhouette has also been made just in case there is a failure of one of the items during the month.

Up until 2011 the driver for the window silhouettes was a Renard 64 with home built 240V SSR's. Because of the design of the case, which also was designed to drive some 120 24V incandescent strings, the case was heavy, and actually drew close to 240 watts in standby! The replacement is simply four 27 channel DMX boards and two 5V 350w power supplies, which should draw somewhere about 15 watts at idle.

Cost: $400, completed.


Back in 2010 we used 3 seperate color icicles, 4680 lights drawing 378 watts, around the house to give an effect I liked. Because of their age, and also the fact that they were extremely dull when compared to our new LED's they were not used in 2011. 2012 will see the return of icicles, but in a totally redesigned manner, which I call pixicles because they are a combination Pixel and Icicle.

I have a few strings of test pixels and a trial pixicle matrix was created in January to test the idea, and I am extremely happy with the results. The Pixicles will use 1002 WS2801 5V pixels, and draw 139 watts on white, and be 3,006 more channels to program.... Fun.

Expected Cost: $590 for pixels (Completed), $25 for Power Supply, $180 for controller (ordered).

Candy Canes

The 57 watts worth of Candy Canes will be scrapped and replaced with a coro pixel-based item. This has actually increased the power requirements as I'll be going from 20 very dull incandescent items each with 20 bulbs, to 12 Coro items each with 30 LED's, drawing a total of 92W. Because of the level of control of the Pixel based candy canes, plus the fact that the LED's draw about 16 watts in total when the brightness is matched to the old incandescent canes, I think this is a worth while upgrade.

Cost: $170, Completed.

Actual Power saving so far

  • Ropelight Deer - 230 Watt saving
  • 2 smaller deer - 30 Watt saving
  • 2 medium deer - 40 Watt saving
  • Silhouette upgrades - 471 Watt saving
  • Icicles - 239 Watt saving
  • Holly - 67 Watt saving
  • Angel - 267 Watt saving
  • Santa on Harley - 275 Watt aaving
  • Candy Canes - 35 Watt increase

Total: 1,584 Watt reduction for 2012