How to find LED Christmas lights that aren’t ugly

I know I should like LED holiday lights.

They save energy. They help save on power bills during the holiday months. They’re safer and last longer than the old incandescent ...

Tagged: leds, Christmas, Christmas lights

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How to find LED Christmas lights that aren’t ugly

DJ Santa wears snow-encrusted glasses so as not to be blinded by LED lights

[I]t’s hard to get excited about hanging the LED lights when they make my house look more like something off the Vegas strip than the Norman Rockwell painting vibe I was going for.

Key Points

  • LED lights save energy and money.
  • They’re also safer and last longer.
  • The latest versions are pretty, too. 

I know I should like LED holiday lights.

They save energy. They help save on power bills during the holiday months. They’re safer and last longer than the old incandescent ones.

But it’s hard to get excited about hanging the LED lights when they make my house look more like something off the Vegas strip than the Norman Rockwell painting vibe I was going for.

Thankfully, LED Christmas light options have greatly improved since they lit up the Capitol Christmas tree back in 2006.

Gone are the days of the icy-blue tone and burn-your-retina intensity. We can now get versions with soft light that don’t hurt to look at.

Here’s what to look for to get LED lights with a warm, soft glow.

Check the color temperature

Christmas light labels have a lot of information, but here’s the good news: According to Popular Mechanics, you can ignore the lumen and watts and focus on the color temperature instead. If you want a softer glow, look for an LED bulb with a color temperature of 2,700 to 3,000 K. These lights will look more like an old-fashioned incandescent light. The harsh LED lights usually have a color temperature of 4,500 K.

Then look at the color accuracy

If you want to avoid that blueish hue, then you need to check the color accuracy. Some packages include a color accuracy score. You’ll want a CRI score that’s in the 90s. If it’s in the 80s or below, then the light will be harsher.

When all else fails, don’t be afraid to be that high-maintenance shopper who opens the package and plugs them in to make sure they’re just right. You’re making an investment that will hopefully hang on your tree or house for many holiday seasons, so it’s worth the extra hassle.

Still not convinced to make the LED switch? Check out this lesson from the Griswolds.

No, their house isn’t on fire, those are just the Christmas lights.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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This post-holiday bargain will save you money now — and later

You’ve been shopping all month getting ready for the holidays. What could you possibly need next week after the Christmas gifts have all been opened?

LED Christmas lights.

Yes, ...

Tagged: leds, saving energy, Saving Money

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This post-holiday bargain will save you money now — and later

LED holiday lights twinkle in the dark

LED Christmas lights go on sale big time after Christmas, so buying them now will save you money at the point of purchase, plus you’ll save money on your energy bill next year when you put them up.

Key Points

  • LED holiday lights save energy and help keep your energy costs down.
  • If you’ve been on the fence, consider buying them right after Christmas.
  • Many stores mark them down as much as 50 percent right after the holidays. 

You’ve been shopping all month getting ready for the holidays. What could you possibly need next week after the Christmas gifts have all been opened?

LED Christmas lights.

Yes, you’re probably ready to finally take your lights down, but trust me on this.

LED Christmas lights go on sale big time after Christmas, so buying them now will save you money at the point of purchase, plus you’ll save money on your energy bill next year when you put them up. And yes, this means that you can’t leave this year’s lights up all year and just plug them in again come November. Busted.

Still not convinced? Here’s a breakdown of the savings you’ll see with LED lights, courtesy of the Department of Energy:

Estimated cost of electricity to light a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days

Incandescent C-9 lights

$10

LED C-9 lights

$0.27

Incandescent Mini-lights

$2.74

LED Mini-lights

$0.82

Estimated cost* of buying and operating lights for 10 holiday seasons

Incandescent C-9 lights

$122.19

LED C-9 lights

$17.99

Incandescent Mini-lights

$55.62

LED Mini-lights

$33.29

*Assumes 50 C-9 bulbs and 200 mini-lights per tree, with electricity at $0.119 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) (AEO 2012 Residential Average). Prices of lights based on quoted prices for low volume purchases from major home improvement retailers. All costs have been discounted at an annual rate of 5.6%. Life span assumed to be three seasons (1,500 hours) for non-LED lights.

Not only do LED holiday lights consume less electricity, they also have the following advantages:

  • Safer: LEDs are much cooler than incandescent lights, reducing the risk of combustion or burnt fingers.
  • Sturdier: LEDs are made with epoxy lenses, not glass, and are much more resistant to breakage.
  • Longer lasting: The same LED string could still be in use 40 holiday seasons from now.
  • Easier to install: Up to 25 strings of LEDs can be connected, end-to-end, without overloading a wall socket.

So go treat yourself to some short-term and long-term savings after Christmas. I knew those power shopping skills had value. 


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

Did you like this article? Here are some other articles that include: leds, saving energy, Saving Money