Editorial Feature

The Times Square Ball: What's It Made From?

The Times Square Ball is located at the top of the One Times Square building and is used during New Year's Eve celebrations in New York. The ball is lowered down a flagpole annually on December 31st at 11:59 p.m. EST to indicate the start of the New Year. The 'Time Ball' was first dropped on December 31st, 1907 and the practice continued every year since then. The design of the ball has also been updated to exhibit advancement in technologies.

Globally, the Times Square ball drop is one of the well-known New Year's Eve celebrations attended by at least one million audiences annually. The Times Square ball drop has in turn inspired several similar "drops" held locally in other towns and cities across the US.

What it’s Made From?

The Times Square Ball is a huge geodesic sphere having a diameter of 12 feet and weighing 11,575 pounds. Around 100 incandescent light bulbs, wood and iron were used to construct its original design, while its current structure features an electronic LED lighting system and triangular crystal panels on its outer surface. It was remodeled in 2007 and fitted with LED lights. In 2008, the ball was again redesigned by fitting Philips Luxeon Rebel LED lights.

The ball is covered with 2,668 Waterford Crystals of various sizes having some brilliant patterns which make the ball dazzle like never before. These Waterford Crystals are bolted to 672 LED units attached to an aluminium frame of the ball. In addition, the ball is fitted with 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LED lights. Each unit consists of 48 Philips Luxeon Rebel LED lights of red, blue, green and white colors, having 12 each. The ball is capable of producing over 16 million colors of various patterns to reflect a spectacular kaleidoscope effect.

Eco-Friendly LEDs

LEDs are semiconductor light sources that emit light when current is applied. Owing to their low energy and maintenance costs, LEDs find applications in various fields. They are characterised by high impact resistance, efficient design, low energy consumption, prolonged service life and high performance. LED lights can save nearly 75% of energy consumed by incandescent lights. They are free from UV and IR radiation emissions.

The Times Square ball underwent a green renovation in 2008 by replacing incandescent lights with 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel energy-saving LEDs. Although the remodeled Time Square ball employs several LED lights, three times the number of lights in the previous version of the ball, the energy consumed by the remodeled ball is 20% less than that of the previous one. At the time, a Phillips representative assured that the incorporation of energy-efficient and powerful Philips Luxeon LEDs will deliver a more brighter and sustainable experience on New Year's Eve than ever before.

The energy consumed per hour by all this magnificent lighting emitted from the 'Time Ball' is equivalent to the energy consumed by two ovens at home in an hour, which is an extremely efficient way to celebrate big events, not to mention remarkable in the grand scheme of things. However, the power need is huge, nearly 32,000 Wh, for just 30 min of celebrations. Besides using eco- friendly LED technology, the Times Square Ball also adopts Duracell's SmartPower Lab as a part of its green measures to generate renewable energy. Duracell invites volunteers willing to pedal in a Power Rover of its SmartPower Lab to create kinetic energy. The generated energy is stored and used for powering the lights in the ball while counting the last few seconds of 31st December and welcoming the new year.


Big events are generally celebrated with lots of bright lights and the Times Square Ball dropping event is a prime example for this. With the incorporation of LEDs - a promising energy-saving technology - in 2007, the ball designed with nearly 32,256 Philips Luxeon LED lights consumes very less energy than the old one. Not only does this save energy, it also creates billions of patterns using different colors. The efficiency of the ball lightings has also improved, making the ball the greenest it has ever been. On the other hand, Duracell’s SmartPower Lab is another breakthrough in the development of energy-saving techniques required to be adopted during New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Phillips Lighting Test - Run Time - 1:23mins

Philips Lighting Test


Kris Walker

Written by

Kris Walker

Kris has a BA(hons) in Media & Performance from the University of Salford. Aside from overseeing the editorial and video teams, Kris can be found in far flung corners of the world capturing the story behind the science on behalf of our clients. Outside of work, Kris is finally seeing a return on 25 years of hurt supporting Manchester City.


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