Only a few short years ago, LED Christmas lights were hard to find and significantly more expensive than their more traditional incandescent counterparts. Thankfully, those days are behind us. Finding LED holiday lights today is easy, and they’re usually close to the same price as incandescents. If you haven’t made the switch yet, it’s time to look at LEDs again.
Power savings – LEDs use less power, simple as that. How much less? Consumer Reports did the math on 50 feet of lights over 300 hours. LEDs used between 1 and 3 kilowatt hours and incandescent lights used 105 kilowatt hours. Quite a big energy savings, which translates to $10 to $11 less on your energy bill. For just 50 feet of lights.
Longevity – if you switch to LEDs, plan to store them right and untangle them year after year after year. They just don’t burn out. LEDs are more durable, won’t break as readily and don’t require bulb replacements (can you ever find the right kind of bulb?). They’ll keep lighting up your holidays for a very long time, the typical lifespan is over 4,000 hours, whereas traditional incandescent bulbs will burn out in less than half that time.
Light output – here’s where it gets interesting. An incandescent bulb is brighter, technically, but the LED will produce a more vibrant light, and cast it’s light in all directions. The result? Though the individual lights are not brighter, it usually requires fewer LEDs to light a tree.
Safety – here’s where LEDs win hands down again. They “burn” cooler and don’t contain a filament, both of which mean there is less of a fire risk. Christmas tree fires are scary things.
Other cool LED factors – thanks to the cool burn and low energy use, it’s possible to string more strands of LEDS together, a big plus when outlets aren’t plentiful and to keep the unsightly cords at bay.
But what about the downsides?
Cost – good quality LEDs will be a bit more expensive, but not by much anymore, and the price is coming down. When offset against power savings and lifetime replacement value, however, it’s a small investment.
Color – yeah, the first “white” LEDs were a little on the blue side. Today, it’s easy to find “warm white” versions that are just as golden-hued as their incandescent counterparts. They’re also available in a wide range of colors like red, blue, and green, and even in color-changing varieties.
Looks – early LEDs tended to be somewhat less than attractive. Even today, some of the cheaper versions still have the characteristic blunt LED bump. More and more, however, LEDs are coming in decorative bulb styles, some of which mimic traditional bulbs, and others are a bit more whimsical.
Size – this one is no longer an issue. If you haven’t looked at LEDs lately, it’s time to look again. Today’s LEDs come in decorative shapes that recreate the classic C7 and C9 bulbs from childhood.
As LEDs become more popular and more widely available, there are even more creative lighting options on the market. With the versatility, longevity and safety of the LED bulb, there is no reason not to invest in good quality holiday lights. Go ahead, light up the night. With LEDs, it’s not such a huge blow to the environment.