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LED vs Regular Christmas Lights: Best DIY Lights

The festive season is upon us. So you’d better be prepared to decorate your house with Christmas lights.

There are two common types of Christmas lights. These are LED and Regular (incandescent bulbs) lights. 

LED Christmas lights have light-emitting diodes which produce light. The higher the current, the brighter the steady light will burn. On the other hand, regular Christmas lights have a filament that burns to produce light.

Choosing right saves you frustration. You won’t have to deal with tangled lights or burned bulbs.

Key Features

LED Christmas LightsRegular Christmas Lights
It uses LEDs to produce lightBurns filament to produce light
Lower electricity consumption (70% less than traditional/regular Christmas lights)Consumes a lot of electricity
Wires do not pull out even in extreme weather conditions due to their strong connectionBulbs are easily replaceable and can last 3000 hours. Its cords are moderately durable. 
It has more vivid colors (up to 3 times more pronounced) than regular lightsClear bulbs often emit soft and warm light featuring yellow undertones
They are shock resistant and more durable than regular Christmas lightsYou can use the cord indoors and outdoors (only use cables recommended outdoors)
It is cooler than incandescent lights lowering the risk of injury and fireThey get hot as current goes through the filament to produce light, posing a high fire risk 
The wiring configuration is in series-parallelWired in series along one electrical path. Essentially, current must flow from one bulb to another in sequence
It does not have a shuntIt has a shunt that provides a less resistant path in case of bulb damage

What to Consider When Choosing Incandescent and LED Lights

Incandescent lights appear in most traditional mini-Christmas lights. Unfortunately, due to its design, such lights come with many issues. You will have to deal with burn-out lights and constant flickering. Vintage-style lights such as C7 and C9 may also loosen or overheat.

Your other light alternative is LED lights. Many people are turning to LED lights for holiday lighting solutions. They are more efficient and consume less power.

White LEDs are available in cool and warm options. Cool whites tend toward a blue hue. Warm whites are more amber-like as they resemble traditional candlelights.

Those who love traditional incandescent lights will not find LED versions as exciting. Larger LEDs imitate actual screw-in bulbs, with the whites coming very close. But, it is more apparent when using multicolor lights.

Two kinds of wiring work when harnessing string LED lights. First, wire it almost like you would traditional mini lights. The LED will sit in the plastic “bulb” and be pressed into mini light sockets.

With time they may develop intermittent contact problems that most incandescent lights have. However, the possibility of this happening is almost nil. The significant merit is that the bulbs are replaceable.

The second option for LEDs is those that get soldered on the string. These get sealed, so no wires/sockets loosen. Unfortunately, when an LED goes out, it is hard to replace it.

Extra Features to Consider

Whenever you select Christmas lights, look for Christmas lights that come with extras. These extras could be many color options or functionality.

Some sets are dimmable, which means you can cut several degrees of brightness. It also offers many lighting modes.

You can opt for a slow fade one day and go for flashing lights the following day. Some lights also have remotes and timers.

These are handy and offer end-to-end connections. You can always string together a set or more.

Always refer to the manufacturer’s product information. This determines the exact number of lights to string together.

Why LED lights Work Best

The lights have inner conductors which create heat-free light. As a result, they’re cool or, in some cases, may feel warm to the touch. This technology is newer and preferable to the incandescent bulb.

LED lights are becoming more popular as they improve. These lights almost mimic and replicate other types of light.

These lights are safe and easy to work with. But you need to make sure to get the right color. Buying from the same manufacturer helps.

The diodes in LED operate as a one-way switch to the current. This is what makes them so much safer than traditional bulbs.

Comparing LED to incandescent/ Ordinary Lights

There are many things to consider when getting Christmas lights. First, it has to make economic sense and be sustainable throughout the holiday season. Consider the following.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a vital aspect that you must consider. For example, LED Christmas lights use less energy than incandescent ones. This makes the LEDs more energy-efficient and a better choice in this respect.

LEDs use light-emitting diodes and do not use filaments, so no heat comes off during use. Whatever uses more heat also consumes more electricity, which is why LEDs win.

Cost Factor

Your lights should be affordable or budget-friendly. This is relative for most people. LED lights have more spacing than incandescent Christmas lights. Thus, you will need to use more strings of lights.

You may double up and cross over the lights. The cost per box differs. You will pay more for more packages.

Calculate based on what you need to determine the cost of setting up your Christmas lights. 

Incandescent Christmas lights are way cheaper because they are cheaper per box. You also only need a few strands for an excellent job.

The running cost of LED Christmas lights is cheaper than traditional ones. For example, an LED light can light a 6-foot Christmas tree for 12 hours for 40 days at $0.27. Regular light will cost $10 for the same job and time.

Safety considerations

LED lights will not become hot. However, incandescent Christmas lights do heat up. This is a significant safety hazard that you must note.

Some incandescent lights have mercury traces on them. Mercury is very toxic to humans/ pets and should not be around children.

Mercury poisons happen unknowingly when the bulb breaks. It is best to avoid such bulbs for safety reasons.


Is it worth getting LED Christmas lights?

Yes. You will pay more for LED Christmas lights than incandescent lights. However, the value you get from LED makes up for the purchase cost. It is durable and significantly cheaper to run than regular lights.

Are LED Christmas lights better than regular Christmas lights?

Yes. Incandescent/regular lights waste energy. The bulb loses approximately 90% of its energy as heat. On the other hand, LEDs use 70% less energy than traditional lights. They also have a longer lifespan (up to 25 longer) than incandescent light.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between LED and regular Christmas lights is a matter of preference. But LEDs are the better option for personal DIY projects.

This video compares LED vs Regular/Incandescent lights