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The LED vs. Incandescent Christmas Light Smackdown

shutterstock_527390740How into Christmas lights are you? Wait, that’s kind of vague. Let’s put it this way. Does your Christmas light shopping consist of seeing an endcap of 100-strand generics, thinking to yourself “that’ll work” and tossing a couple boxes in your cart? Or are you perhaps an outdoor light aficionado, planning in advance, hitting day-after-Christmas sales, and designing your home’s dazzling display repeatedly in your mind? No? Maybe you’re the type that doesn’t care, you just want the stupid things to last forever so you don’t have to think about them anymore.

Well, we’re going to try to address all the Christmas light needs in today’s blog by giving you the pros and cons of both LED Christmas lights and their ye old fashioned incandescent elders.

The basics:

First, the difference. The incandescent bulb was the original bad boy, a true miracle of its time. However, its very design ensures its demise. Running an electrical current through a filament eventually weakens that filament to the point of destruction.

LED lights, in contrast, generate light by using electricity to excite light-emitting diodes, and are far more energy efficient: up to 90%, for you number types.


Incandescent bulbs are burning. That means they get hot. Any added heat can be a great thing in the winter, so maybe that can work for you. LED bulbs, however, remain cool to the touch due to their low energy usage.  Winner: could go either way.


On the surface, this appears to be a no-brainer. Incandescent bulbs are cheaper. In many cases, much cheaper. Who wants to spend 15 bucks for a strand of LEDs instead of seven for incandescent? When you dig a little deeper, however, realize that, first, incandescent lights use far more energy, which causes a slow but steadily-climbing electric bill. Secondly, they also last practically no time in comparison to LEDs, so they must be replaced more often. How fun is taking down dead Christmas lights? None. None fun. Winner: LED


Christmas lights should be cheerful. Sometimes you may go for a more subdued glow, sure, depending on what you’re going for. We don’t know your life. But by and large, particularly when used outdoors, bright is the way to go. For that reason, some prefer incandescent because of their brighter tendencies. LED lights have progressed, though, and have many designs and looks that provide that colorful pop just as well as their older counterparts. Verdict: either way.


Remember driving around to see all the neighborhood lights when you were younger? There were so many colors! We were shocked to discover that incandescent Christmas lights are only one color: the natural whitish glow of the electricity burn on the filament. The color comes from being “dyed” by covering the filaments with colored bulbs. Sure, you have color. It’s just not pure. LED color occurs because the diodes of LED bulbs generate different colors on the color spectrum. Blue LED lights, for example, generate true blue on the wavelength spectrum – not a white light dyed blue with a colored bulb. Does this really matter? Not necessarily. But it’s a fun fact to throw out at holiday parties, especially if you want to be the coolest one there.  Verdict: true colors are the best. LED.

You know where we’re going with this: LED lights are ultimately the best all-around. And we can say that objectively, because we don’t sell LED Christmas lights. But if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, and you really hate buying new lights every year to two years, go LED. You’ll save money in the long run, we promise.

Whatever you do, may your lights glow bright and your hearts even brighter this holiday season.

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