When decorating the exterior of your home for Christmas, many people start with holiday lights. However, what a lot of us don’t realize is that there are actually two different kinds of lights, each with vastly different benefits. Knowing the difference will help you make the right choice for your home.
LED lights are taking over all types of lighting – and holiday lighting is no exception. They save power – about 80% over their incandescent cousins. They’re also far brighter than incandescent bulbs. And because they save so much power, you can string together far more lights than you can with incandescent bulbs. And they’re tremendously more durable.
However, because they are light-emitting colored diodes encased in a plastic cap, the look of these lights may take a little getting used to, especially if you’re a traditionalist. LED’s have an initial expense that is higher than incandescent lights. But, over the long term, their energy savings and durability provide an overall savings.
“LED is really the only way to go for outdoor applications,” says Shane Atkin, an expert in Christmas lighting at Modern Display. “LED’s are also great for indoor use as well. I used to prefer incandescent for indoor applications, especially on the Christmas tree. However, LED’s are so much better now and their color is so much closer to that of a glowering incandescent, that I prefer LED in every application.”
Atkin recommends using LED Christmas lights to create the huge Griswold-esque light displays on the roof of the house or in the front yard and leaving the incandescent light to create a softer look inside the house. Incandescent lights can also be used for a softer look outside, outlining a doorway or window frames.
Incandescent bulbs are made of glass and have filaments in a colored bulb. These are the most traditional options. They’re likely the kind you grew with as a child, and they are the type used in almost every Christmas movie. They are also a softer, warmer light, so they won’t completely dominate any room.
These lights do have a few drawbacks. They consume more energy and are more fragile and shorter lived than LED. Additionally, they burn warmer than LED. When they’ve been on for a long time, some ornaments may melt if they happen to press against the lights.
If you do go with a bold look and want to go bigger than just strings of lights, Atkin recommends buying a projector that projects light and images on the side of your house. This option looks especially nice on large, flat walls and garage doors and will add a unique touch to your Christmas decorations.