There has been a big question many of us have faced during recent Christmases: LED (Light-Emitting Diode) or traditional (incandescent) lights? LED and traditional lights have been sharing the Christmas light market for several years now, and that has made many people unsure of what the differences are between LED and traditional lights. Why are LED lights becoming so popular, and why do traditional lights still manage to hang on to a large share of the Christmas light market?
LED Versus Traditional Lights
While both LED and traditional Christmas lights offer their own types of benefits, it can be difficult to make a decision during the holiday season as to what type of Christmas light will work better for you and your home. Let’s compare some of the pros and cons of LED and traditional Christmas lights to make the decision a little easier.
LED Christmas Lights: Pros
LED Christmas lights “burn” cooler. Since LED Christmas lights don’t really get hot, they don’t pose as much of a fire hazard to the home as traditional lights, which feel warm – often hot – to the touch.
LED Christmas lights shine with brighter, bolder colors than traditional Christmas lights.
Depending on the model, LED Christmas lights use far less energy than traditional Christmas lights. In fact, the average set of LED Christmas lights uses 90% less energy than traditional Christmas bulbs.
With an advertised typical bulb life of 50,000 hours, LED Christmas lights can last years – even decades. Theoretically, using the bulbs only 1,000 hours a year (41 days straight) means you could get 50 years of service from your LED Christmas lights! If that is the case, you may never need to replace your string of LED Christmas lights.
Traditional Christmas Lights: Pros
Traditional Christmas lights have a “warm” glow; they don’t look as stark and bright as the LED Christmas lights, and therefore have a “softer” appearance that many people prefer.
Traditional Christmas bulbs do not cost as much to buy as LED Christmas lights.
Because the bulb and the color-dyed glass are usually assembled as one component for incandescent Christmas lights, it can be a little easier to replace bulbs on a string of traditional Christmas lights.
LED Christmas Lights: Cons
LED Christmas lights cost more – sometimes five times as much or more – than traditional Christmas lights.
LED Christmas light bulbs sometimes burn out by the many, not by the individual. That means an LED Christmas light failure could mean half a string or more not working.
Some LED Christmas lights that are socketed (and replaceable) have been known to rust.
LED Christmas lights “flicker.” Non-rectified LED Christmas lights go on and off at a rate of 60 hertz, whereas “rectified” LED lights run twice as fast, at 120 hertz. While you will probably notice the flickering of the non-rectified 60-hertz lights, the rectified 120-hertz LED lights flicker so quickly that you will not be able to actually notice.
Traditional Christmas Lights: Cons
Traditional Christmas lights can get very hot to the touch, sparking a fire.
Traditional Christmas lights consume much more energy than LED Christmas lights; that also means a higher carbon emission output than found with LED Christmas lights. Because of a higher energy bill to run traditional Christmas lights versus LED lights, incandescent Christmas bulbs cost much more to run than today’s LED Christmas lights.
Traditional Christmas light bulbs tend to last about 5,000 hours – a fraction of the advertised lifespan for LED Christmas lights.
Traditional Christmas lights don’t look as bright as LED Christmas lights.
As you can see, LED and traditional Christmas lights each present their own sets of pros and cons. While LEDs may be much more energy efficient and brighter than traditional Christmas lights, the upfront cost and potential problems with corrosion and/or light bulb replacement issues may have an effect in outweighing the benefits. Traditional lights, on the other hand, present a certain warmth and familiarity that make them still worth pursuing; energy costs and longevity issues may play against the notion that traditional lights will suit your needs.
In the end, it may benefit you to conduct a little trial and error. If you are new to LED Christmas lights, why not pick up a set or two and try them out. See if you like the appearance of the lights, the feel of the cool bulb, and the overall ambiance the LED Christmas lights provide. Even at $15-20 for a set of LED Christmas lights, the outlay to try a string out is not cost prohibitive for most and will give you a better idea as to what the LED Christmas light buzz is all about.
LED Christmas Lights. July 25, 2009. October 22, 2009. http://www.ledchristmaslights.com/all-led-christmas-lights-are-not-created-equal
LED Light Choice. October 22, 2009. http://www.ledlightchoice.com/led-christmas-lights.html
Mokhoff, Nicolas. EETimes.com. “Good, Bad, and Ugly of LEDs.” December 10, 2007. October 22, 2009. http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=204702684