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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Everything you need to know about Christmas lights

I know you’ve been there. You’re hanging Christmas lights, and all of a sudden, a random section goes out. This year, we hung a big star on our house. I swear I tested the lights ...

Tagged: LED, Christmas, lights, holiday

Expand Article

Everything you need to know about Christmas lights

Angry man with Christmas lights

In addition to saving you some money on your electric bill, LEDs might just save you some sanity too.

Key Points

  • Twinkly lights can make you a crazy person.
  • Blame the circuits.
  • LEDS are less likely to burn out or break and use a lot less energy

I know you’ve been there. You’re hanging Christmas lights, and all of a sudden, a random section goes out. This year, we hung a big star on our house. I swear I tested the lights before it went up, but, you guessed it, only half of it lit up after it was safely placed on our roof.

It’s enough to make me want to eat the entire package of cookies my neighbor just delivered.

But if it makes you feel any better, every one deals with this. Here is a great article with easy-to-understand visuals explaining how those Christmas lights work and why something so twinkly and joyful can so quickly turn you into a special combination of Hulk and Grinch.

In addition to explaining how circuits, shunts and fuses work, the authors give a breakdown of LEDS:

"LED holiday light strands are becoming more popular. They’re sturdier, last longer and consume 70 percent less energy than conventional incandescent light strands. It only costs $0.27 to light a 6-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days with LEDs compared to $10 for incandescent lights. On top of that, they are significantly less likely to burn out or break compared to their incandescent forerunners."

So in addition to saving you some money on your electric bill, LEDs might just save you some sanity too.

And yes, I’d likely still eat all the cookies even if all the lights worked. Because Christmas.   


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.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: LED, Christmas, lights, holiday