Christmas Lights Have Arrived on Gloucester Square

For the first time since houses were built on Gloucester Square, 180 years ago, the Garden has been decorated with Christmas Lights.

These lights represent months of planning and (100s of hours of) volunteering from the Committee, who have needed to improve and extend the Garden Electrical system (that will be used for low-level lighting next year) before installing these Festive lights.

The Garden Committee is grateful to the work of the resident volunteers and contractors:

  • Electrical Works (Cristian Havrincea of Volta Electrics)
  • Preperation Works (Tom, Abilio, Colin C and Wentworth Moling)
  • Central Light Tree (Tom, Abilio and Mukta)
  • Inner Bed Lights (Mukta, Tom and Abilio)
  • Archways (Jovita and Tom)
  • Sorting / Cable-arranging (Mark and Tom)

About the Lights

The Committee have opted to install a 6m Flagpole Light Tree in the middle of the Garden, this flagpole will be removed in January and the Wishing Well refilled.

This “tree”, supplied at a very comptetitve cost from Twinkly, is able to gently animate (we tend to stick to a warm and cool white colour scheme), forming a great centerpiece to the Garden. It is less expensive and has a lower carbon foootprint than buying large potted / cut / synthetic Christmas trees, and has the added benefit of being easy to remove, collapse and store during the remainder of the year.

The rest of the lights in the Garden are low cost, 12v, energy efficient LED “warm-white” lights, set to a twinkling animation.

In total, there are 16,808 LEDs on display in the Garden.


Running Costs

Whilst positive feedback has been recieved from over a dozen residents, two residents have sought to query the running cost of the lights, with reference to the current energy crisis, suggesting they should only be on for a few hours in the evening.

The Garden Committee would like to note that such concerns are not substansiated by the actual consumption of these, highly efficient, modern Christmas Decorations.

In total, the Christmas Decorations draw roughly 154.8 watts an hour, i.e. 0.155kWh. The previous in-lawn spotlights, that were run year-round, drew 135 watts / 0.135kWh.

The current Energy Cap sets the price of 1kWh at 34p, meaning the lights cost a little over 5p an hour, or £1.24 day to run.

This compares favourably to common electrical equipment, and other equipment in the Garden, as summarised in the adjoining toggle-table, and comparison list at the bottom of this page.

Whilst the Garden Committee have the option to turn off parts/all of the Christmas Lights during certain hours as part of the upgraded smart system (outlined below), given the benefits of the lights (Christmas cheer, a reduction in flytipping, etc), there is currently no intention to turn them off for large swathes of the day.

As described, the current Christmas lights draw roughly 158 watts. The central tree is the largest single component, drawing 60 watts, owing to its onboard computer.

The 5 in-lawn spotlights previously used year-round, were each 27 watts, drawing 135 watts total.

For the year or two before in the in-lawn spotlights were installed, there were 5 x 50w on-tree spotlights, drawing 250 watts.

To improve asthetics and wildlife encouragement, the Garden will be moving to low-level lighting along the inner beds (between the lawn and the gravel path). These lights will only draw 72 watts.

The Garden’s irrigation system, required to maintain the hertiage plants and trees, as well as the lawn, relies on a electric pump that consumes circa 750 watts whilst in operation.

How the Committee is Improving Energy Efficiency
and Wildlife Encouragement

The Winter Electrical Improvement works, whilst facilitating this year’s Christmas Lights, are actually part of a much broader strategy to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and wildlife-sensitivity of the Garden Electrics.

Smart Systems

Soon after the election the Garden Committee added a 4G internet connection to the Garden.

This has allowed us to connect the Irrigation System (the Garden's biggest electricity consumer) to the internet, activating smart features that reduce watering/irrigation when wet weather is predicted, lowering our consumption of both water and electiricty.

Wildlife Friendly

In lawn and on-tree spotlights not only require more powerful/higher consumption lights, they are oft criticised by wildlife experts, including in the Wild West End Report (covering Gloucester Square and the other Hyde Park Estate Gardens), owing to the detrimental impact they have on birds, owls and bats, particularly during nesting seasons. The Garden is moving away from these sort of light fixtures.

Low Energy

The upgraded electrical system that currently facilitates the Christmas Lights, will in January be used to facilitate low-level lighting along the inner beds (between the perimeter path and the lawn), focused away from potential nesting locations.

These lights will consumer roughly half the power of the previous in-lawn spotlights when in use.

On Demand

On specifying the new system, the Committee were sure that all lighting-related sockets in the Garden contain a smart-switch that allows each socket to be controlled wirelessly. The hope is the year-round lighting can be activated when motion is detected in the Garden, allowing the committee to reduce the number of hours the low-level lighting is active, without reducing the utlity of the Garden or indeed the safety of the Direct Access Houses.

Low Impact

The Garden are following a low impact, low dig approach to any works conducted.

One example of this is the composite posts used to mount electrical sockets/junctions. Made from 100% recycled British plastic, these posts can be directly inserted into the ground without the need to dig holes / use a rot-prevention treatment / pour concrete.

They are vastly preferable to attaching electrics to trees as common in other Gardens and previously seen in Gloucester Square (4 such installations have been removed)

Improved Safety

The Committee consider maintaining lighting important to the safety and security of Garden Users, and the 13 Direct Access Houses.

We are also taking all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the electrical system, removing junction boxes previously left loose on the ground, and installing Residual Current Devices (RCDs) at the start of each electrical branch to guard against shorting, and limit the load placed on legacy cables currently being utilised (though we plan to phase them out over time).

Putting the Daily Consumption of the Christmas Lights (3.7kWh) In Perspective

We understand kWH’s can be hard to comprehend, so here are some alternative uses of the daily power consumption of the Gloucester Square Christmas Lights (3.7 kWh).

Leave 12 x 50w halogen ceiling spotlights on inside a home for 6 hours and 6 minutes (0.6 kWh)

Wash and dry clothes for 1.2 cycles (3,045 Watts per cycle)

Drive an (entry level) Tesla Model X for 8.8 miles (270 mile range on 95 kWh Battery)

Use an Electric Shower for 24.8 minutes (9 kWh)

Use an Oil Filled Radiator for 1 hour and 54 minutes (2 kWh)

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