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LEDs power Times Square ball on New Year's Eve

Efficient LED lighting gets ready for a close-up moment as the light source for the ball that falls in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

The LED-filled New Year's Eve ball.

LED lighting will again show off its versatility and efficiency as the light source for the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

In a tradition that started in 1907, a glowing ball will drop to mark the passing into the new year in New York City. Inside the geodesic sphere now used, there are 32,256 individual LED lights behind 2,688 triangles made of Waterford crystal, according Philips, which provides the LEDs.

The aluminum ball itself, which made its debut with LEDs in 2008, is 12 feet in diameter and weighs almost 12,000 pounds.

By using LED rather than the halogens of old, the bulb uses 88 percent less energy. They also enable the creation of different designs in 16 million colors across its surface.

In a press release, Philips touted the LED ball as part of the transition to more energy-efficient lighting set to begin next year. But in the U.S. at least, that may happen a little slower than industry had been led to expect by the government.

A 2007 law set efficiency requirements for light bulbs, similar to the fuel efficiency mandates for vehicles. The first bulbs that need to meet those requirements are 100-watt incandescent bulbs, which means that consumers need to find alternatives. Halogen incandescent bulbs use almost 30 percent less power while compact florescent lights and LEDs also meet the efficiency mandate.

Congress last week voted to defund the Department of Energy from implementing the efficiency rules until October of next year. However, since industry had already planned to make the change, the last-minute politicking is not expected to disrupt the transition, a lighting industry trade group told the Associated Press.

Regardless, come next Saturday in Times Square, energy-efficient lighting will help commemorate a step forward.

The ball can display 16 million colors. Philips