Artificial Christmas Tree

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WHAT IS L.E.D. and
Artificial Christmas Trees

 

We sent our L.E.D. tree to an expert in the technology, and asked if he would honor us in writing us a letter which would better explain to our customers, what L.E.D. is, and why it is so great.

Here is what he wrote........

November 7, 2004

Dear LEDtrees,

Thank you so much for sending the multi colored tree for evaluation. I have enjoyed measuring and analyzing it while looking at non-LED trees to compare their electrical current status. It is so much more than I expected in brightness, please read my evaluation below.

AUTHOR: Lawrence A. Horn, PE - BSEE Syracuse University - Electrical Engineer of 35 years working throughout varied industries. Major interest in project work focused on energy savings for industrial cost reduction.

ELECTRICAL MEASUREMENTS:
Out of curiosity, I measured the power the entire tree uses. (Mr. Horn was measuring our 4 foot tall L.E.D. tree.) After it was operating for 3 hours at full on, I found the following:

Lights Full ON: 4.5 Watts
Lights Ĺ ON by dimming wave pattern 2.1 Watts

THIS IS FOR THE ENTIRE TREE! AWESOME! I hope you counted the LEDís. (160 L.E.D.s) I did not take time for that, but would guess there are over 100 on this tree; and I find it quite bright enough. (There are actually 160 L.E.D. lights on the tree we sent Mr. Horn.) We have not decorated it yet with the family heirlooms and keepsakes that always adorn our tree. When we do I believe the effect of these lights will be exceptionally pleasing. This will be the first year in many that I will look forward to helping decorate the tree.
I did a little shopping for, supposed, energy efficient trees. The smallest miniature single light found in most stores consumes .4 Watts. That means that 12 of these single lights exceed the total energy of all the LED lights on one of your 4í trees. A standard 4í pre-lit artificial Christmas tree has more than 120 of these miniature lights. This calculates too more than 10 times the energy consumption! Although these miniature lights are pretty low on heat output, they are still much warmer than the LED lights in your tree.
The next size up miniature light string is a little brighter and hotter plus they suck up .77 Watts each. After that we get to the ones I grew up with that are 5 Watt apiece. One of these bulbs draws more energy than your whole tree!
Also, worth noting, the standard miniature Christmas tree light string that is common in most retail stores have the distinct disadvantage that they run off of 120VAC and can shock you if changing a bulb while plugged in.

BACKGROUND / HISTORY OF LED

My father Dr. Fordyce Hubbard Horn, working with Dr. Robert Hall at General Electric Research Lab in Schenectady, New York, was one of the pioneers in researching how to make single crystal pure elements in the semiconductor portion of the periodic table. Some of his first work was growing Czochralski crystals of Germanium; then Silicon; then Gallium; etc. Their, and others, work was the foundation for the Semiconductor market we now know as transistors and integrated circuits. At General Electric in Syracuse, New York, I was also helping to develop this same market as an electrical engineer. About the same time, my fatherís research friends continued to try to understand the energy balance for a simple diode. This was a junction formed by doping a pure single crystal material with two different elements. (Doping is a very complex metallurgical process diffusing various materials into an extremely pure base.) When electricity was passed through a diode, it produced heat and conducted electricity nicely. The amount of heat did not add up to the total energy input to the diode. The missing energy was finally discovered to be radiation emitted as light. Once this was theorized, and proven, then people worked to create junctions that would produce more light than heat. These guys were comprised of PHD physicists, scientist and engineer from around the globe working in this special area of quantum physics. Soon they found the magic combinations to make diodes produce much more light than heat. Some of the earliest and cheapest Light Emitting Diodes (LEDís) were from Gallium doped with Arsenic (They are called Gallium Arsenide LEDs). The chemicals used for the manufacturing process of LEDs are chemically hazardous. Once finished, though, they are stable and safe. Today, I would guess the red LEDís on your tree are GaAs (Gallium Arsenide) material. The others colors are exotic materials used to produce blue and green. An even mixture of Red, Green and Blue (LEDís) can be used to produce a white LED. That is why some white LEDís do cost a lot more. The 3 RGB colors must be intensity balanced. So far Red has been the least expensive of all of the LED colors. The correct mixing of RGB can make virtually any color, but most others are too cost intensive to be practical. From an energy-input viewpoint, the LED light efficiency rates way beyond any incandescent lamp. They operate at very low voltage and at very low current making them inherently safe in the home because it is unlikely people will receive a shock from handling the LEDís. They also are less likely to be a fire hazard when rubbing or touching a combustible material such some Christmas tree ornaments because they produce only miniscule heat. Last, but not least, LEDís outlast any incandescent lamp in most applications. The last I knew the ratio was greater than 10 to 1. In industry we use them when we must have a light and count on it. There are even LED replacements for many popular small bulbs. They are normally an array of tiny LEDís on a carrier of some sort to produce a similar amount of light like their counterpart incandescent lamp. LED replacements appear initially pricey when compared to the equivalent incandescent lamp. However, when considering the energy savings and the life of the LEDís themselves, the net result is almost always a brighter light at lower long-term cost. In our disposable society, most people do not appreciate the long-term gain. But, as energy costs skyrocket, this is bound to change.

Your fiber Optic Tree

I had the privilege of helping Corning Incorporated develop production quantities of commercial glass fiber for the telecommunications market right after its conception. The plastic fibers in a home application are similar in nature, but donít need to be as technically precise in manufacture. The concept is to shine a light source LED on the end of a bundle of many fibers. Each one will Ďlight pipeí the light it sees at the source to its other end producing the effect of a small light. Larger scale versions of this are used in homes for lighting from the roof into the home during daylight hours and can save sizable energy over any electrical light.
I am eager to see how you put together your LED concept Fiber Optic Christmas Tree and evaluate it if you wish. I sense this will be a much more challenging project. (We are sending Larry our new LED powered Fiber Optic Tree on Thanks Giving weekend for review...stay tuned)

I had planned many years ago to make a wreath with LEDís (all red) with Darlaís help. We never got it started. Maybe this will spur me on. Thank you so much. (We got those coming too!)

Larry