Loading, please wait...
(lights for entire home)
(lights for entire home)
(lights for entire home)
Get free advice and estimates from electricians in your city.
As the holidays approach, you’re probably planning your annual light display. Many families use numerous strings of lights in and around their homes to illuminate and decorate for the season. All those lights add up in terms of purchase price and amount of energy you’ll spend to keep them glowing all month long.
Generally, there are two types of lights that people consider each year – standard string lights and newer LED lights. Both have advantages and drawbacks. We’ll outline the differences below, allowing you to make a more informed decision for your Christmas light display.
LED bulbs use less energy than the standard incandescent Christmas lights, which makes them the more energy-efficient choice. This is because, due to the way they are made with light-emitting diodes instead of filaments, they produce almost no heat at all when turned on. This means that a much higher amount of electricity goes towards producing light, rather than being wasted on heat.
In fact, incandescent or regular lights are being phased out entirely due to their inefficiency, making them harder to find. The greenhouse gases that incandescent bulbs produce may have a bigger environmental impact, potentially contributing to issues such as climate change. LED bulbs emit fewer greenhouse gases than incandescent bulbs, which makes them not only more efficient but more environmentally friendly.
LED bulbs require less wattage to run so that you will use less electricity to power the same number of lights over standard string lights. This can save you up to 80% on your electric bill this season when compared to regular Christmas lights. This is a benefit for those who like to create a large display.
LED bulbs last around 50,000 hours compared to standard bulbs, which last approximately 1,000 hours. From a durability standpoint, this means that you’ll get 50 times the amount of usage out of a string of LED lights than a string of regular lights. So, while LED lights are more expensive to purchase than incandescent lights, you’ll actually save over the lifetime of the bulbs in energy costs and replacement bulbs.
LED bulbs are also less likely to short or blow than a standard bulb, so you’ll spend less time replacing them. However, both LED and standard Christmas bulbs are made of a thin piece of glass. This glass will break at the same rate, particularly if subjected to impact.
In addition, many newer LED lights are coming on a thin, copper strand rather than an insulated cord. This strand is easily tangled, and the tiny lights embedded in the string cannot be replaced if they break. The heavier, insulated cord of the regular lights lasts longer, and the larger bulbs can be replaced if necessary.
If both types of lights use the same insulated cord, then the installation will be comparable. However, many LED lights now come on a copper strand. This strand is much more difficult to install than a cord because it is thinner and more easily tangled. LED strands are often shorter than regular strands, which means you’ll need more extension cords and strands to hook together to complete an installation, meaning more work to set up your lights.
Since LEDs come with fewer lights per string, you’re likely to need more strings to complete an installation. This will contribute to a higher overall cost for LED lights versus regular lights. You may also need more extension cords and anchors, due to the higher number of necessary strands.
The cost of LED Christmas lighting and installation runs around $10 to $30 per strand of light. Most people require around 10 to 15 strands per job for a total of $100 to $450 in lighting. The extras required for the installation, such as extension cords and stakes, can run anywhere from $30 to $100, while installation can run anywhere from $100 to $450, depending on the extras that are added. The total price for the bulbs, installation, and extras can run anywhere from $230 to $1,000.
The cost of regular Christmas lights can run anywhere from $3 to $12 per strand. The longer strings of lights mean only 8 to 10 strands are necessary to complete the same job, giving a total of $24 to $120 for the lighting. Extras such as stakes and extension cords will run between $30 and $100, with installation running the same at around $100 to $450. In total, the project would run between $154 to $670.
Even though the overall project cost for regular Christmas lights is lower than LEDs, you have to remember that LEDs are more energy-efficient. This means they’ll use less electricity overall, and they don’t risk burning out over time either, so won’t need to be replaced. Therefore, even though the initial costs may be higher, LED lights offer long-term savings.
With the growing technology, LEDs have the same, if not brighter lighting than standard bulbs. In addition, LED Christmas lights have fewer bulbs than traditional strings of lights but can still shine brightly in many colors.
In the past, LED lighting was dimmer than traditional lighting, which caused people to stay with the standard string of Christmas lights. This has changed, however, and both bulbs now put out a similar amount of light.
The key is looking at the size of the lights. LEDs on copper strands are much smaller, so while the brightness is comparable, the lights will not be as visible as standard Christmas lights. This may be a personal choice, however, in how you want the bulbs to be viewed.
Standard lights used to have more color options than LED, but nowadays, there are plenty of options for LED lights too. You can buy these lights in all kinds of colors and options, and it’s also worth noting that LED lights are made with plastic bulbs, rather than glass, making them less likely to break as well.
LED lights remain cool to the touch even when on for hours. In contrast, traditional Christmas lights become hot to the touch after they’ve been lit for several hours. This may lead to a risk of house fires, so the bulbs need to be unplugged when not attended or after several hours have passed. LED lighting provides a much safer, cooler choice of Christmas lights for those concerned with this risk.
In terms of maintenance, LED lights are the better option. They’re made with plastic bulbs, rather than glass, so there’s far less chance of the bulbs shattering or breaking and they don’t need to be handled with quite as much delicate care as standard glass Christmas lights.
Plus, since LED bulbs won’t ever burn out, you don’t need to worry about replacing them or messing around with fuses either. All you need to do is plug them in and enjoy the lights. If the brightness starts to fade over time, many home improvement stores now offer trade-in or recycling programs where you can hand over your old lights and get a discount on a new set.
With standard lights, the maintenance levels are higher as you may need to handle them more carefully, as well as looking for any burned-out bulbs and replacing them as needed. You also need to be careful how long you leave them on as the high levels of heat can increase the risks of individual bulbs breaking.
Whether you’re opting for LED or regular Christmas lights, choosing the right set can feel like a challenge with so many different options out there. Here are a few of our recommended sets for both LED and regular lights to help narrow down your search.
BEST OVERALL: MZD8391 66’ 200 LED Christmas String Lights
100% UL certified, these warm white Christmas lights can also be used for birthdays, weddings, and other special occasions. They measure up at 66' in total, featuring 200 LED bulbs and the option for end-to-end expansion if you have a big project in mind. Each bulb is designed to stay-on, even if any of the others get damaged or broken, and the thick copper wire is fully insulated for long life and maximum durability.
BEST VALUE: Fairy Lights Multicolor Outdoor String
If you're looking for a little more color and style in your Christmas lights, this 80' set of 200 LED bulbs is just what you need. Ideal for use at Christmas and other occasions too, these lights can be adjusted to glow in all kinds of colors and even come with a little remote control that lets you adjust brightness, mode, and more on the fly. They're fully waterproof and come with a lifetime warranty too.
ALSO CONSIDER: XTF2015 105’ 300 LED Christmas String Lights
If you need a little more bang for your buck and want to decorate your whole house or another large space, this 105' set of LED Christmas lights might be right for you. It features 300 LED bulbs with end-to-end expansion. Fully UL certified and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, these Christmas lights have eight different modes including slow fade, twinkle, and sequential.
BEST OVERALL: BrizLabs Clear Christmas Lights
If you're on the lookout for a classic set of white Christmas lights with incandescent bulbs, this set is available at a great price and has received rave reviews from hundreds of users. The set measures up at just under 70' and features 300 bulbs in total, along with a 3A fuse. You get some extra fuses and bulbs included in the set for easy maintenance and repairs too, and the set is fully end-to-end extendable for bigger projects.
For those who prefer a little more color and life, this 300 count set of multi color lights might be the right option. It's actually two sets of 150 lights each, which can be easily connected together and even expanded with one more set for a grand total of 450 bulbs on just one line. Each set measures up at 39' and they work wonderfully in both indoor and outdoor environments.
ALSO CONSIDER: SUNSGNE 25’ Incandescent C7 Ceramic Multicolor Lights
If you're looking for some classic Christmas lights that can really make a statement, you may want to consider this 25' set of incandescent ceramic multi color string lights. Each set features 25 bulbs in total, and each bulb is much larger and more decorative than a classic set of fairy lights, giving a bigger and brighter glow. The bulbs come in five colors: red, blue, green, white, and orange, and you get a couple of spare bulbs in each set too.
Our experts independently research and recommend the best products. Retailers cannot influence or pay for the placement, reviews, or ratings of products. Fixr.com participates in the Amazon Services, LLC Associates Program and other affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn commissions on qualifying purchases made using our links to retailer sites.