With the Thanksgiving feast over, many of us have turned our thoughts to decking the halls for the December holidays, both inside and out.
Trending over the last few years has been the switch to LED lights, which are stronger, brighter and more durable than traditional lights. Yes, they are more expensive; however, they will likely last longer than your old incandescent twinkle lights, which you can almost guarantee will be a headache on “Holiday Light Day.”
There are other things to consider before you invest in LED lights. You can opt for retail grade or professional grade lights. When shopping for LED lights, professionals say to steer clear of big-box retailers. They are great places to shop for many holiday gifts, but you may want to think twice before buying LED lights from these stores. “Buy Cheap, Sell Cheap” is the industry mantra. So you get what you pay for; they are cheaply made, and therefore cheap to buy. Instead, look online or check out different retailers for pricing and quality.
Before you channel your inner Clark Griswold (from the movie “Christmas Vacation”), here are some tips for decorating with LED lights this holiday. Keep these things in mind to get the best out of your LED investment and have a beautiful display:
- Remember the cost. LED lights may cost you more up front, but may pay off in the long run with more longevity. They are more expensive, but will yield a brighter display and use roughly 75% less energy.
- LEDs produce almost no heat, so they’re always cool to the touch.
- LEDs won’t fail you in cold weather. In fact, they perform better in cold temperatures. Speaking of temperatures, when outside temps go below freezing, incandescent lights can actually burst. Not so with LED lights.
- They’re durable. LED bulbs don’t burn out after more than 4,000 hours. White strand bulbs burned out at a rate of one to two per strand in less than half that time. They also use less electricity and won’t overload your electric bill.
- You can connect more LED lights together using one electrical outlet. With traditional lights, you can only connect four or five sets end to end. On the flip side, you can connect 40-50 LED strings together, depending on the light count.
- LED lights are less frustrating. Say good bye to “one bulb goes out, they all go out” and all the headaches surrounding that time-honored holiday headache. With LED, if one fails, you can replace one bulb. No frustration and limited arguing.
- Avoid buying pure white lights. LED bulbs offer several variations of the color white. If you buy pure white lights, you may end up with something that’s more of a sickly bluish-white when purchased from the cheapest manufacturers. With improved technology, LED lights come in bright white (good for outside) and soft white (better for indoors). If you put the bright white on your indoor tree, you may need your sunglasses to dim the brilliance to actually focus on your television. They also come in other colors like red, blue, green, orange and yellow.
- Order a little extra than you think you’ll need when purchasing lights. That way, if you fall short, you’re covered.
- Budgeting for lights can be tricky. It’s easy to get excited and go overboard and rack up charges on your credit cards. Make sure you’re using a credit card that best fits your spending needs and provides rewards and cash back on purchases. Plan your display carefully; think of it as something that will grow each year as you add to the lighting and other features.
- String trees in the evening when decorating outdoors with LED lights, or any lights for that matter. You’ll be able to see them better with the lights plugged in. A tip from the professionals is to decorate evergreens with bigger bulbs, and use smaller bulbs for the deciduous trees.
But wait….there’s more!
LED lighting is versatile in other areas as well, going far beyond holiday lighting:
- Kitchen counter and cabinet lighting—Adding LED lights below your cabinets will not only help with visibility when you are prepping foods, but will also highlight your kitchen in a pleasing way. Consider adding lights to your kitchen island for a coordinated look.
- Bathroom vanity lighting—Use LED strip lights above or below cabinets for extra light and a beautiful glow.
- Circular fixtures—A circular LED light strip can enhance overhead dining room lighting for a special touch.
- Staircase lighting—Aside from looking pretty and stylish, LED lighting on stairs can provide extra light as a safety factor.
- Wardrobe lighting—Who likes searching through a dark closet for your favorite shirt…or matching shoes? No one. LED linear strip lights will make your closets fashionable and more functional.
- Swimming pool lighting—Consider installing linear light strips to give the pool a luminescent glow. They also have color changing capabilities.
Don’t leap before you buy and consider the tips above for the best and brightest holiday home display yet!
Resources: Hampshirelight.net, Family Handyman, Christmasdesigners.com, CNet.com, ChristmasDesigners.com