Battle of the Bulb: LED vs. Incandescent Christmas Lights

At one time, incandescent lights were the only choice for Christmas lights. However, decorators now have another option for their lighting needs: LED lights. There are plenty of differences between the two lights and the best one for you depends on what you’re looking for in a light.

Price Difference

While the cost to purchase LED and incandescent lights vary depending on the number of lights on the string, incandescent lights range from $9 to $12 and LED lights are anywhere from $16 to $35. There’s also a price difference when it comes to burning both lights. The average cost to burn 10 strings of incandescent lights is about $11.06. On the other hand, the average cost to burn 10 strings of LED lights is $1.30.

Life of the Lights

Incandescent bulbs work by running an electric current through a filament. Over time, this filament will eventually degrade and the bulb will burn out. However, these lights usually last around 3,000 hours. LED lights, as noted by their name, are light emitting diodes. They produce visible light when an electric current passes through a semiconductor material and illuminates the tiny light sources. This means that most LED lights will last around 200,000 hours.

Energy Efficiency

Since LED lights and incandescent lights burn in different ways they also use different amounts of energy. Lighting a filament takes more energy than lighting a diode. In fact, LED lights use around 90 percent less electricity than incandescent lights. Additionally, all the energy that incandescent bulbs use to light comes out in the form of heat. Since LED lights use less energy than incandescent bulbs they do not produce heat when they’re lit, even if they’ve been on for hours.

Stringing Lights Together

Whether you’re lighting a tree or decorating a house, chances are you’re going to need more than one string of lights to complete your project. You can plug up to five strings of the same incandescent light together while you can plug 43 strings of the same LED lights together.

Brightness and Color

The difference between how LED lights and incandescent lights look is a personal preference. LED lights, like those from, are known for their bright colors because the color in is the plastic diode. Conversely, many people view incandescent lights as softer in color because the color is painted on the glass bulb.

Some LED lights have issues with flickering. As a result of their design, these lights blink on and off very quickly. Regular LED lights flicker around 60 times every second. This flickering is something that some people notice and others don’t. Some of the newer LED lights are now being advertised as “full wave.” These lights flicker at a rate of 120 times per second, which is must faster than the human eye can detect so they don’t appear to flicker.

When the holiday season rolls around and you’re ready to decorate, weigh the differences between LED and incandescent Christmas lights and decide which one is better for you.

Image via Flickr by youngthousands

He's an avid gadget geek and spends most of his time reading or writing.

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