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LEDs: A First in Super Bowl History

Sarah Battaglia's picture
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  • Feb 1, 2015 11:59 am GMT

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super bowl led changes

There’s more to the Super Bowl than face paint, air horns, and a mountain of bean dip.  (Oh, and beer. We cannot forget the beer.)  While the country tunes in to watch the big game Sunday night, the focus will be on the field, but when the cameras pan out, try to catch a glimpse of the lights.  They will probably look like average lights, and you may think I’m taking crazy pills for suggesting that you take your eye off the pigskin, but if you’re feeling bold, let your eyes wander.

For the first time in Super Bowl history, the game will be played under LED lights, one of the most efficient types of light bulbs on the market.  Lighting manufacturer Cree will be in the spotlight while the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots battle it out on the field.  (Step aside, Katy.)

The University of Phoenix Stadium went through a complete lighting renovation and now requires a mere 310,000 watts of energy.  Compare that to the previously required 1.24 million watts and you’ll realize that’s a 75 percent reduction in energy consumption!

Cree released the following statement regarding the transformation:


So what does a renovation like this entail?  The stadium replaced almost 800 metal halide lighting fixtures with 312 Ephesus Lighting stadium fixtures consisting of 44,928 Cree XLamp MK-R LED bulbs. (Whew! Let me catch my breath.)

Another question you may be asking yourself: What’s in it for me and my diehard Super Bowl guests?  Each of these lights has been designed to provide almost double the illumination as the metal halide lights.  That means more uniform light, fewer shadows, better replays, and overall, a more enjoyable viewing experience.

Now go ahead and mold that bean dip mountain!  Gather your buds, chill some brews, put your couches on cinderblocks for makeshift stadium seating, and get ready to enjoy the greatest Super Bowl yet!

Photo Credit: LEDs at the Super Bowl/shutterstock

Sarah Battaglia's picture
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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 31, 2015

Sarah, hopefully the publicity generated by the University of Phoenix’s accomplishment will translate into Americans making the switch to LEDs in their own homes. The stadium’s new lighting will lower its power requirements during the game by a little under 1 megawatt. For a sense of scale, Arizonans will be using 8,330 megawatts of electricity for watching the game (and other purposes).

Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant, the nation’s largest, will be churning out 2,416 megawatts – almost a third of the electricity required to power Arizona’s televisions. It will be doing it without any significant carbon emissions, and cooled by recycled Phoenix wastewater.

Clayton Handleman's picture
Clayton Handleman on Jan 31, 2015

Thanks for calling attention to this.  One thing I would add – CREE is the leader in LED lighting, both sales and technology and they are a healthy US based company.  They also are an important player in other renewables enabling technologies such as SiC (silicon carbide) power semiconductors.  These enable the near lossless conversion of DC power from solar modules to AC power.

For more on LEDs this post offers info on how they compare to other sources in household lighting.  Also, projections for ongoing efficiency gains. 

Hops Gegangen's picture
Hops Gegangen on Jan 31, 2015


So the beer consumed during the game eventually ends up cooling a nuclear reactor?


Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 31, 2015

Hops, you could look at it that way.

It’s important that everyone at Sunday’s game do their part for the environment (save one in each group to drive home).

Hops Gegangen's picture
Hops Gegangen on Jan 31, 2015


Consider me pro nuclear then…

Thomas Garven's picture
Thomas Garven on Feb 1, 2015

I just switched out 5 CFL’s for LED’s in my kitchen.  Both myself and my wife love the instant on lighting.   So I traded out 5 CFL’s using about 100 Watts for 5 LED’s using 10 watt each or about 50 Watts.  Not only do the LED’s use 50% less electricity but the quality of the light is far better.  Will be replacing another 5 CFL’s around my home when the LED’s go back on sale at Fry’s.  

Hops Gegangen's picture
Hops Gegangen on Feb 1, 2015


If you run the air conditioner in the summer with those lights on, not converting 50 watts to heat is a bonus.

But in the Winter, that excess 50w was just an expensive source of heat.

But perhaps the best thing is the LEDs, if they don’t fail out of the box, last just about forever, whereas the CFLs eventually die.

Joe Schiewe's picture
Joe Schiewe on Feb 1, 2015

This is great.  It is the great circle of energy.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 1, 2015

Sarah, here’s a post-Super Bowl observation: the Katie Perry multimedia halftime extravaganza with lasers, projections, music, and propane fire cannons probably consumed more energy than the field LEDs saved. If true, the entire production might be regarded as a confirmation of Jevon’s/Garrett’s Paradox: efficiency gains tend to be negated by increased consumption.

Sarah Battaglia's picture
Sarah Battaglia on Feb 2, 2015

You’re probably right, Bob. That was quite a flashy show, and I would be surprised if any of those lights or fireworks were energy-efficient.

Sarah Battaglia's picture
Sarah Battaglia on Feb 2, 2015

That’s great to hear, Thomas! And with the cost of LEDs dropping, it’s the perfect time to retrofit your home.

May I ask what the sale price is at Fry’s?

Sarah Battaglia's picture
Sarah Battaglia on Feb 2, 2015

I just wish there was a quick segment on the lighting upgrade. Or even just a two-sentence mention.  (Maybe there was and I missed it?)  It would have been nice to see the NFL promoting an energy-efficient lifestyle.

Clayton Handleman's picture
Clayton Handleman on Feb 2, 2015

Bob, it did not occur to me that it was any more energy intensive than past halftime shows.  If it wasn’t then it really does not support Jevon’s/Garrett’s paradox.  Was there something about the show that seemed to you to be more energy intensive than past shows?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 2, 2015

Clayton, I admit it’s 100% speculation on my part but it seems recent shows have been 15-20% more energy intensive each year.

Predicting the relationship between energy efficiency and usage mathematically has always struck me as a dicey proposition, a bit like mathematically predicting the outcome of presidential elections (if we exclude public opinion polls from the dataset). It may not be possible to prove a correlation exists, but we can note the simultaneous trends toward more consumption and more efficient consumption, and postulate one might be indirectly financing the other.

There was close to zero possibility Katie Perry would announce at the beginning of her show that this year’s presentation would be scaled back due to concerns about the environment.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 2, 2015

Sarah, agreed. I didn’t see anything, and it wouldn’t have taken up much advertising time (or energy).

Thomas Garven's picture
Thomas Garven on Feb 2, 2015

Hi Sarash:

Bulbs were $20.00 plus tax for a pack of 5 just before Christmas at Fry’s Electronics.  The package said they were rated at 60 Watts of light output but in use seem more like 75 Watts each.   

They were manufactured by uBRITE and on the bulb state 800 Lumens of light output.  


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