Incandescent vs. LED Christmas Lights

Shopping for Christmas lights? If you're overwhelmed by the selection of lights in stores, remember that there are two main types of lights to choose from, Incandescent and LED.

Incandescent and LED

  • Incandescent bulbs are what most people remember growing up with. They are made with a filament that is heated to emit light.
  • LED (light-emitting diode) lights have increased in popularity during recent years. They have inner conductors that can create light without heat.

Color/Temperature

One of the most noticeable differences between LED and Incandescent is color temperature/warmth. Incandescent lights emit a traditional warm/yellow glow. LED lights can emit a range of temperature values to meet consumer preferences. Two common LED options are "cool white" and "warm white". Cool white emits a cooler hue and can appear almost blue. Warm white lights more closely resemble the warmth of traditional incandescent lights.

Color temperature selection is based on customer preference. Many people prefer the yellow tint of classic incandescent lights. Other people like the cooler hues associated with LED lights.

Classic Incandescent

LED Cool White

LED Warm White

Cost

Typically, traditional incandescent lights are less expensive than LED light strands. LED lights can cost as much as three times the price of regular incandescent lights. However, LED lights make up for their initial cost with significantly lower energy costs.

  • A well-lit display using incandescent lights uses ~18,000 watts of energy and costs ~$300 for the season
  • A well-lit display using LED lights uses ~2,400 watts of energy and costs ~$40 for the season

 

LED Lights Overall:

  • Higher initial cost, Low Energy Costs
  • Low Heat (Not a safety hazard)
  • Artificial "cool" glow
  • Up to 50x lifespan compared to incandescent
  • Single bulb can emit multiple colors (Unique color options)

Incandescent Lights Overall:

  • Low initial cost, Higher Energy Costs
  • Bulbs emit heat (possible fire hazard)
  • Classic yellow hue
  • ~1000 hour average lifetime
  • Basic colors (White or Multi)
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