Outdoor Christmas Lights

Thursday, 6 December 2007 | Tags: , , ,

For many people, getting into the Christmas spirit includes decorating your house with coloured lights, both inside and out. With so many options out there, we take a look at outdoor lights and find out what you need to know before you flip that switch.

The Basics

  • There are a variety of lights available these days, from traditional strings, to nets (great for bushes and shrubs), to icicles, ropes, and 3-D ornaments.There are two basic bulb types to consider: LED and traditional incandescent. Both are available in a variety of colours.

  • More about LEDs compared to incandescent bulbs:

    • LEDs require less 80-95% less electricity than incandescent. To light 100 full-size

    • LEDs produce a blue-white light with very little heat. The light is intense, but it doesn’t project. Incandescent bulbs produce a warmer, yellow light.

    • LEDs can cost up to 5 times more than traditional bulbs but can save you a lot of money in the long term.

    • LEDs are made from plastic so they’re virtually indestructible and should last up to 20 years. Incandescent bulbs are breakable, and they burn out every couple of years or more, depending how much you use them.

  • If you prefer the warmer incandescent look but want to save energy, consider a smaller bulb. A five-watt bulb draws 30% less power than a seven-watt bulb. Mini lights (including icicle lights) draw even less.

  • While incandescent lights tend to be brighter and warmer than LEDs, the light intensity of LEDs improves year after year.

Other Considerations

  • When getting ready to buy lights, sketch a lighting design of your house so you can measure how many strings you’ll need.

  • Keep lights stored safely when not in use. When taking them down, wrap them neatly and tie them tightly so you avoid tangles next year.

  • Before you climb up the ladder, plug in each string to make sure all the bulbs work, and always have replacements on hand.

Be Aware

Please be safe when putting up lights!

  • Don’t overload circuits.

  • Stay away from power lines.

  • Be careful on ladders.


We invited two next-door neighbours to a decorating challenge. One family used incandescent and one used LEDs.

  • Incandescent Lights: $1.62 per meter (average)
  • LED Lights: $4.69 per meter (average)

Burn-out Test

We left a string each of incandescent and LED lights on for the entire Christmas season.

  • After six weeks of constant burning, 20 of our 25 incandescent lights had burned out

  • The LEDs were all still burning strong.

Display Test

  • When it came to appearance, the warmth of the incandescent lighting was a bigger hit with their much more traditional and softer look. The LEDs were much more vibrant and intense, almost disco-like.

  • We couldn’t ignore the economics and practicality of the LED lights: the savings alone on our energy bills were enough to make us think twice. There is also far less replacement required with LEDs.


It all comes down to personal preference on looks and whether it’s a priority to conserve energy and save money.



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