LED Christmas Lights vs Incandescent

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If you’re looking to light up your home with Christmas lights, you may be wondering if LEDs are a better choice than incandescent lights. LED Christmas Lights vs Incandescent lights, what is the better choice? In this guide, we’ll take a look at the differences between the two and help make your decision a little easier.


What are LED Christmas Lights

LEDs are a newer technology, meaning they’re more efficient than incandescent bulbs and don’t contain mercury. They also come in a variety of colors and have an average life span of 15-20 years. LEDs have burst onto the scene and have been quickly taking over from traditional light sources like incandescents. In fact, many cities have made it illegal to sell incandescent bulbs because they consume so much energy!

So what is an LED light bulb?

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. An LED light is made up of several diodes that are connected together to form a small circuit. When an electrical current passes through the diode, it creates light by exciting electrons into a higher energy state. The excitement of the electrons causes them to release photons of light. This process is called electroluminescence, and it’s how LEDs emit light.

led christmas lights
Image Credit: https://www.openforchristmas.com

What are Incandescent Christmas Lights

Traditional incandescent Christmas lights are the ones you’ve seen at your folks’ house. Or perhaps the ones you put up yourself back when you were a kid. The filament inside is heated by electricity passing through it, and this causes it to glow brightly.

These lights are very bright, but they’re also inefficient; Meaning that most of the energy used isn’t actually producing light but instead heating up the filament so it glows. And since incandescent bulbs don’t have any kind of automatic shutoff mechanism (like LEDs), if one bulb burns out or is accidentally broken open by an excited pet or child, its hot filament will pose a fire risk.

LED Christmas Lights vs Incandescent lights – Energy Usage

LED Lights

These lights are more energy efficient than incandescent lights. LEDs are considered more efficient because they can produce the same amount of light using less energy. This means you’ll save money on your electric bill. If a 60W incandescent bulb produces 800 lumens (the amount of light it emits), then a 5W LED will produce 800 lumens as well. However, even though they’re producing the same amount of light, LEDs use only 25% as much energy as incandescent bulbs do. That’s why LEDs last longer than traditional bulbs and can cut down your electricity costs by up to 90%.

Incandescent lights

The energy consumed by incandescent Christmas lights is directly related to their brightness. The brighter the light, the more energy is used. For example, a 100-watt incandescent Christmas tree light uses 100 watts of energy. On the other hand, a 50-watt incandescent Christmas tree light uses only 50 watts of energy.

LED Christmas Lights vs Incandescent lights – Color choices

LED Lights

These kinds of lights come in more colors. If you’re looking for a particular color, you’re going to have a much easier time finding it with LED options. They’re available in red, green, blue and purple as well as white. You can even get multicolored versions that will change slowly through all the rainbow colors. You can settle on one color after another. LED bulbs also have options for electronic connection for programming or for a single bulb changing into different colors. This makes them perfect for decorating trees and bushes or outlining your house or porch with holiday cheer.

Incandescent lights

Some light strands feature traditional clear bulbs, which make the strands look more like candles. The bulbs themselves are also available in a myriad of colors. However it is not as many as the options of LED bulbs. Incandescent light don’t offer single bulbs that change into different colors electronically. You can do this manually by changing the shell. Some even have a frosted lamp shade around them that can be removed to create an opaque-looking bulb cover.

residential Christmas lights installation
Image Credit: https://www.ifixit.com

LED Christmas Lights vs Incandescent lights – Durability

LED Lights

Easy breakage isn’t a problem with LED lights. They are made up of plastic and glass like incandescent lights. They are also coated in a protective coating that makes them more durable than their regular counterparts.

LED lights last longer than incandescent ones. The plastic casing protects them from damage caused by accidents or other sources of wear and tear over time. This isn’t the case if you want to talk about other aspects aside from breakage. If you have kids who like to play outside while holding their favorite Christmas lights, then this may be especially important to consider when deciding on what kind of lighting system is right for your home this holiday season!

Incandescent lights

If you’ve ever lost an incandescent light bulb, you know that they can be fragile. They’re made of glass, and if you accidentally drop one, it’s probably going to break. 

If you exclude that factor then Incandescent Christmas lights can be more durable. This is compared to LED and other types of holiday lighting especially when you plan to hang it outside. Incandescent strands are made from glass bulbs, which generally won’t shatter when bumped and handled. These bulbs also last longer than other types of bulbs. You won’t have to swap out your strand every year or so. This excludes breakage of course. 

LED Christmas Lights vs Incandescent lights – Dimming

LED Lights

You can dim LED lights, but it’s not as easy as with incandescent bulbs. Most of the time you’ll need to buy a special dimmer switch that will work best with your particular LEDs and take into account how much electricity they use.

Dimming an LED bulb is a great way to save energy and extend its life by making sure it never reaches full brightness. If you don’t have a dimmable option, then just make sure you turn off your lights when they aren’t needed instead of keeping them on full blast all day long!

Incandescent lights

You are in control of your lights when you use the Incandescent Christmas Lights. Decide how bright you want them set to, and pick how quickly you would like them to dim. This gives you total control over the mood in your home with these classic Christmas lights. Choose from 8 different settings with a wide range of brightness and speed options.

LED Christmas Lights vs Incandescent lights – DIYs

Christmas lights installation

LED Lights

The good news is that you will be able to work on your LEDs. Most LEDs are designed to be easy to replace and repair yourself, so you won’t have to worry about them breaking down in the middle of your holiday decorating.

LEDs are small and can be easily damaged. If the leads that connect the lights to each other or to the power source become bent or broken, then your lights will not work. You can repair broken LED lights by straightening the wires and reconnecting them.

Incandescent lights

You can install and repair incandescent Christmas lights yourself. You will need to know how to read and understand a wiring diagram, as well as how to use a soldering iron. Wiring these lights is simpler than installing LEDs, but it’s still important to take precautionary measures while installing them because they are high-voltage lights.

LED Christmas Lights vs Incandescent lights – Safety

LED Lights

Unlike incandescent lights, LEDs are not prone to short-circuiting. In fact, they’re far less likely to short out and overheat in the first place. They also don’t get hot. You can touch them without burning yourself (if you need proof of this, watch a YouTube video where someone touches an LED with their tongue for science).

In addition to not catching fire and being safe around pets, LEDs are more durable than incandescent bulbs as well. The average lifespan of an LED is 20 years. That’s 20 years of worry-free lighting! Incandescent bulbs only last about 1,000 hours compared to 25,000 for LEDs (which means if you use your Christmas lights for 12 hours per day over the course of one year. A conservative estimate—they’ll last six times longer.

Incandescent lights

These lights are the most common type of Christmas lights, and for good reason: They work well, they look great, and there’s a huge variety of colors, styles and designs available. But what might surprise you is that incandescent lights aren’t actually that safe when compared to other types of Christmas lights. If you’re worried about fire hazards and want to feel confident that your family is protected from those dangerous sparks, you should opt for LED Christmas lights instead.

Incandescent bulbs contain a wire filament that gets hot when electricity runs through its base, causing the bulb to light up. It’s these filaments that are the most dangerous part of a light bulb because they can get very hot and give off fire hazards.

LED Christmas Lights vs Incandescent lights – Maintenance

LED Lights

While the LED lights have a lifespan of up to 30,000 hours, they do need some maintenance.

LED Christmas lights are very easy to maintain, the wires that come with many LED strings can be cut and used to connect other strands of lights. The bulbs are durable and resistant to moisture and extreme temperatures.

It is recommended that you carefully unpack your new string of lights and check for defects (snaps, broken bulbs or defective sockets). Replace any bulbs that aren’t working before storing it away for next year.

Incandescent lights

To keep incandescent bulbs burning brightly for the holidays, it is necessary to clean them. Turn off all lights and allow them to cool before you attempt to remove dirt from them.

After each use, your holiday lights should be cleaned by wiping away dust with a damp cloth. If they do not get dirty in storage, you can avoid cleaning them altogether. The wire of the string should stay clean (they will not tarnish) and should not require any special care.

Installation is the same

Installing both sets of lights is pretty much the same. You plug the set of lights into an outlet and then you can arrange them any way you want using your own creativity. Both sets look great when used in garlands or wreaths, and both offer plenty of versatility when it comes to placement options on your home or yard.

Both types of Christmas lights can also be used with a variety of different light strings. So whether you like round bulbs or oval ones it really doesn’t matter. They will work just fine.

Can they be used together?

Yes. Incandescent lights and LEDs can be used together, but you should be aware that the LEDs are brighter and more energy efficient than incandescent lights. You’ll also want to consider the safety of using both types, as you never know when an electrical fire could occur.

LED Christmas lights have some advantages over incandescent strings: they last longer, they’re dimmable (you can adjust how much light they put out), and they come in a variety of colors that don’t exist with incandescents (including white).

Ask a professional installer to do this for you to prevent fires or accidents.


So, the bottom line is that LEDs are better for the environment and easier on your wallet. So, we think it might be time to make the switch. But don’t forget that they also have some drawbacks. You have less flexibility in terms of dimming abilities. It’s also not as bright as incandescent lights. 

The great thing about them however is that they don’t require as much maintenance as incandescent bulbs do. (no need to replace them every year!) There are some things that should still be done when installing these lights outside your home or business premises. Consider having the professionals install them. Clean debris off surfaces where they will be attached before installation. Use heavy-duty wire staples instead of nails when attaching wires where possible. Also, ensure that there is sufficient clearance between other electrical wires running nearby so as not to interfere with their operation over time.

The ProClean Team offers professional Christmas light installation in Mukilteo, WA and the surrounding region. Our certified technician can help you properly install and test your Christmas lights, whether they are LED or incandescent, to ensure the safest and most efficient operation. They are also well-versed in fire safety protocols which will give you peace of mind when hanging these decorations outside your home. Call us today for a quote!

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The ProClean Team

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