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Artistic LED Lighting: The Bay Lights

Howdy lighting fans! Dr. Bulb here to update you on some exciting LED news out west. The San Francisco Bay Bridge has long been overshadowed by its prominent neighbor, the Golden Gate Bridge. Trust me, I know what it is like to be out-shown, my neighbor and I have the most fierce Christmas lighting rivalry in all the land. So, I was happy to hear the news that recently, with the help of Philips LED lights, the Bay Bridge has begun to cast its own shadow. On March 5th, the “Bay Lights” were debuted, a 1.8 mile LED light show set across the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

What a year for the city of San Francisco, the Giants win the World Series, the 49ers find a young star quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, and now they have not one, but two beautiful bridges! The Bay Bridge is outfitted with 25,000 white LED lights that are choreographed into a dancing canvas that never repeats a pattern. The bridge will illuminate the night from dusk until 2 a.m. every night for at least the next two years. The Bay Lights are now the world’s largest LED light sculpture.

It will cost the city a mere $30 a day to run the light show, and the city believes that the rise in tourism lead to high return on investment. I did some quick calculations using the energy saving calculator from superiorlighting.com to see how much this project would have costs if LED lights had never been invented (what a scary thought). If the Bay Lights had been 60W incandescent bulbs instead of  LED bulbs that only draw 1W then the savings would be upwards of $320,000 per year. Now that’s a lot of savings! Read more about cities saving money with LED lighting in this blog. This is a large scale example of how LED lamps can save money, whether it be for the world’s largest LED sculpture or for a modestly sized office building.

The Bay Lights are the brainchild of Ben Davis, the chairman of the California nonprofit, Illuminate the Arts. Davis commissioned Leo Villareal, an artist known for large scale projects, to design and make the the project a reality. The lights are only on the western span of the bridge and when asked about possibly expanding the project to all side Villareal said, “we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

Learn more about the Bay Lights in this article.

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