LED technology switch reduces costs drastically

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 August, 2007, 12:00am


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Hong Kong's multicoloured nocturnal skyline is widely recognised as one of the most impressive visual attractions in the world. It also accounts for large amounts of energy consumption in the form of electricity, which contributes to global warming through the energy production and consumption process.

In a move to reduce electricity, maintenance and operating costs, without distracting from the visual spectacle, Philips Electronics Hong Kong now lights up the Victoria Harbour with its corporate sign by using the innovative and energy efficient LED (light emitting diode) technology. The LED system is a signature application of Philips' state-of-the-art lighting technology. Situated on the rooftop of the Immigration Tower, the LED sign is almost the length of an Olympic size swimming pool, and is the largest LED display panel in Hong Kong.

Ravi Rajagopalan, the company's general manager of the lighting division, said the replacement of the neon sign with the LED sign marked a new milestone in Philips' commitment to technology and the environment.

Mr Rajagopalan said if more companies made the switch to LED lighting, the reduction in energy cost and benefits to the environment would be significant. LED technology can also be used for street lighting and in warehouses. About 20 per cent of energy consumption in the commercial sector is used for lighting purposes.

On the environmental and energy efficiency fronts, LED signs contain no mercury and use only about one-fifth of the total energy consumption, which is about 20 per cent less than neon signs.

As regards sustainability and cost effectiveness, the energy costs of lighting the company's LED sign, based on six hours a day at the tariff level of HK$1 per kilowatt hour, is HK$48,000 a year, as opposed to HK$250,000 a year for the previous neon sign.

In terms of maintenance, the former neon sign required at least HK$500,000 a year to maintain, while the new LED sign is almost maintenance free. Moreover, LED signs last much longer than neon signs.

'The LED sign is expected to last 50,000 hours, and if we light it for six hours every night, it will last more than 20 years. The previous neon tubes, on the other hand, had to be replaced every two years,' Mr Rajagopalan said.

George Tam Ka-chun, the company's assistant marketing manager at the lighting division, said the Hong Kong government had taken the lead in promoting LED lighting by implementing the technology to illuminate the Hong Kong Coliseum. The Hong Kong Coliseum is now illuminated by the same lighting systems used to showcase Buckingham Palace in London.

'Philips researchers are now working towards ambient lighting intelligence LED to further reduce energy use, with light levels adjusting to natural light levels and even to where people are located within a room,' Mr Tam said.