LED Christmas Tree Lights

Making Incandescents Obsolete?

LED Christmas tree lights are just one example of how far technology has brought us in just
the last decade. In 2005 people were wary of using them. Now the stores can't keep them on
the shelves.

Why the change?

It's that people are discovering the many benefits of LED lights, such as:

  • Saving money on your power bill. The lights use about 85% less electricity than
  • Knowing you won't be replacing your light strings as often since LED's last longer. The bulbs are rated at 25,000 hours and up.
  • Not having to worry about your live tree catching fire (or burning your fingers) since LED lights burn much cooler.
  • Being able to connect dozens of light strings and not blow every fuse in your house!
  • Being assured that if you have a "clumsy" moment and drop a string on the floor you won't be vacuuming up glass until March. LED bulbs are made of extremely durable hard plastic.

And they look really cool!

Downside: they cost more, a lot more in some cases. But then, so did the first incandescent
lights. As LED lights become more and more common, costs will likely decrease.

LED: It's Not Heavy Metal!

So what are LED Christmas tree lights anyway? The term "LED" stands for "light emitting diode". In layman's terms, a diode is an electrical part that can be made to "light" by passing current through it.

For over a century, we've used incandescent light bulbs. The "light" actually comes from
running so much electricity through the bulb that the tiny filament inside of it glows red hot.

And that extra heat's a problem that, for one, makes that electric meter wheel spin faster. Much faster in some cases.

But with LED Christmas tree lights the material itself actually glows without producing
anywhere near the extra heat of the earlier bulbs. This fancy process is called

That's a bit complicated to explain.

But suffice it to say that as current passes through the LED, it lights much more directly
and efficiently. Translation: you use much less electricity.

LED Lights Aren't That New

LED lights have actually been around for awhile. In the 1960's and 1970's they were used as
indicator lights (i.e. appliance "on" lights) and as displays in early hand-held calculators. They were always red in color.

By the 1990's businesses were beginning to take a serious look at LED lights due to the
potential for great savings in electricity costs.

But the first attempts at creating LED Christmas lights left a lot to be desired. The lights were
too dim. The "whites" had this funky "bluish-white" glow to them.They "flickered" like those old television sets. And the metal sockets would rust causing entire strings to fail.

People weren't happy.

Today's LED Christmas tree lights have largely dealt with these problems. The colors are more
normal looking (whatever normal is). Yet if you want to go "space age" you can order in pink or radioactive purple!

Do The Lights Really Last 25,000 Hours?

That's what many retailers will tell you. Some stores claim over 100,000 hours per string.
That's about 400 Christmas seasons!

No question, LED lights last longer than their incandescent counterparts. But don't count on
passing your new light strings to your great grandchildren.

These high numbers actually refer to the bulb itself, not all the wiring and connections that
go with it.

LED light strings (like any light string) get subjected to twisting, bending, exposure to sunlight and storage in less than ideal conditions.

So it's more likely that the delicate connections that make the lights work will break down in much less time.

That said, if you take care of your lights on and off season you can expect many years of
blissful tree lighting. And don't forget those benefits I listed above!

Word To The Wise Before Purchasing

Here are some tips to consider before going on your "shopping trip":

  • Get lights that are "full wave" rectified. This is a technical term meaning the lights get
    more electrical current. So they're brighter and have almost no "flicker" (a common problem with lower-priced "half wave" lights).
  • If you're buying "mini" lights get either M5 bulbs or 5MM bulbs. If you want old-style 1960's
    Christmas lights, go with the C7 size.
  • The M5 lights are shaped more like the mini-lights of the past.
  • The 5MM "wide angle" bulbs are the most popular since they disperse the light in many
    directions. They're shaped like pencil eraser heads...really.
  • Specify "warm white" lights if you want the traditional white like the mini-lights on your
    1990's vintage tree. "Cool white" or "pure white" means you get more of a bluish tint.
  • Get LED Christmas tree lights where the bulbs are permanently sealed into the string. Yes, you heard right. This will guard against the "breakdown" of all the delicate parts that make an LED string.
  • Strongly consider getting all of your lights from one manufacturer. Since LED's are a bit complicated to create, a "red" LED from Company A won't necessarily look the same color "red" as one from Company B.
  • If you can get commercial grade 20 gauge wire ("gauge" refers to thickness, smaller numbers = thicker wires), go for it. It is much more durable than the thinner wire.
  • Test your lights immediately when you first get them into the house- plug them in and leave them on for several hours or so. You'll find defective strings and bulbs and can quickly exchange them.

Where To Purchase Lights That Impress

You can purchase LED Christmas tree lights pretty much anywhere these days. Walmart, Target, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, even Ace Hardware are all viable stores. You can get really cheap sets for less than $12 but plan on spending about $15 or so for a 50-light set.

The great benefit here is that you can purchase online and then pick up your lights at the store.

Here are a few great online merchants to consider when buying LED Christmas tree lights:

  • Holiday LEDs (holidayleds.com)- this company specializes in LED lights and prides itself on great customer service. Want to get rid of your old lights? Send them to Holiday LEDs and get a one-time 25% discount on any purchase of lights there.
  • The LED Warehouse (www.holiday-light-express.com)- this relatively new company is a hit with professional decorators since it started as a professional decorating outfit itself. They give a 10% credit on old incandescent lights exchanged for new LED lights.
  • Creative Displays, Inc. (creativedisplays.com)- this company is also a decorator's favorite and has been in business since 1959. You have to buy by the case (12 strings) but that should cover a 7 or 8 foot tree. And they use top brand manufacturers.

Just so you know, the online merchants referred to above specialize in commercial grade
lights. They are more expensive- $15 to $25 or more per string- but I have to mention that with LED lights good quality goes a long way. Better to pay more now than a bunch more later.

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