This holiday season, while admiring all the beautifully lit homes in your neighborhood, you may notice that some holiday lights are brighter and more vivid than others. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), the reason for the added sparkle is that more homeowners are opting to decorate with LED lights instead of the traditional incandescent type.
“Incandescent bulbs have been used for decorating holiday trees since 1882, shortly after (Thomas) Edison invented and demonstrated his first practical incandescent bulbs on New Year’s Eve in 1879,” says Terry McGowan, ALA director of technology. “Now, more than a century later, incandescent holiday lights are being phased out as LED bulbs appear in a multitude of types, colors, sizes and string configurations.”
Compared to strings of incandescent bulbs, LEDs offer:
• Longer life (3-year warranties; average life up to 100,000 hours)
• Energy savings and efficiency (16-17 watts of savings for a 25-foot light string) — a reduction of more than 75 percent
• Bright colors — LEDs generate only the desired color; incandescent bulbs use color filters that waste light
• Cool operation — LEDs have no hot filament inside; bulbs remain cool
What’s New This Year?
• Miniature light strings. LEDs are small, and can be fabricated into tiny dots of light. American Lighting Inc. (www.Americanlighting.com) call these “dew drop” lights. Strings of these tiny cool-operating lights can be used to decorate foliage, live plants or a floral centerpiece. The light strings are made in various colors, and operate at low voltage. Some strings are designed for battery operation so that no power cords are needed.
• Tree wrapping. Strings of lights closely wrapped around the base of deciduous trees and then up into the branches give a festive look to even small trees or shrubs. The key is to use strings of lights with six inches or less between bulbs, which can be wrapped around the trunk and limbs, with no more than three inches between the layers of wrapped wiring.
• Magnetic sockets. Sockets designed to be used with standard screw-in incandescent or LED bulbs are available with built-in magnets that hold tightly to any ferrous metal. A narrow metal backing strip can be used to quickly mount lights in a straight line, making installation, takedown or spacing adjustments easy. The magnets keep the lights in line and hold tightly in all weather conditions.