Are LED Christmas lights a brilliant idea?
For many, outdoor decorations and lighting are as much a part of the winter holidays as gift-giving and overeating. But how do the increasingly popular LED (light emitting diode) strands compare to incandescents -- what most people have used for decades? Are they really going to become the standard in holiday lighting?
For the past few years, public outdoor light displays have been setting good examples by going LED for the holidays. Maybe you should too. Learn 10 good reasons why switching to LEDs makes sense this holiday season.
1. LED Lights Are Energy Efficient
What's that leading Santa's sled?
It's Rudolph's nose, glowing red with LED!
If Santa has gone eco and green, maybe it's time for you to follow suit. One smart reason: LED lights are energy efficient. They can save 90% or more in utility costs compared to incandescent holiday lights.
LEDs are small light sources that are illuminated by the movement of electrons through a semiconductor material. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of electricity consumed by just one 7-watt incandescent bulb could power 140 LEDs -- enough to light two 24-foot (7.3-meter) strings.
2. LED Lights are Environmentally Friendly
- By using less electricity, LEDs will help lower carbon emissions
- Unlike florescent lamps and compact florescent lights (CFLs), LEDs do not contain mercury
- LEDs help combat light pollution by emitting light patterns toward the illumination target, not into the sky
- LEDs are recyclable
- They don't contain ultraviolet light, which can harm living organisms
3. LED Lights are Safer and Cooler
4. LED Lights Will Save You Money
Look again. I bought a box of 35 white LED dome-shaped holiday lights at Big Lots! in November 2009. The cost: $4.44. The UL code was on the box, along with the Energy Star logo. The quality is excellent: bright and cool. Not surprisingly, I've continued to add more LED light strands to our collection each year. The prices keep going down and the quality and variety continues to improve.
Retailers, utility companies, and government and municipal LED holiday light exchange programs are making it easier for consumers to switch. Consult the website of your local utility, city or county for holiday light exchange or reduced-fee programs. I also participated in my utility company's LED swap program, exchanging three incandescent strands for three LED holiday strands.
You'll start saving money on your energy bill immediately.
5. LED Lights are More Durable
6. LED Lights Last Longer
LED Christmas lights have an operational life span of about 20,000 hours. That's enough to last for 40 holiday seasons.
For any type of outdoor holiday lighting, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) on each circuit. These usually cost less than $10.
7. No More 'Burn-Out' Syndrome
LED holiday light strands have tiny built-in fuses. Since they use less power, it's safer to connect multiple strings of LED light sets end-to-end without overloading the wall socket. Don't mix incandescent and LED strands together. Incandescents draw so much more power than LEDs, it's possible that the incandescents could blow a fuse. If you have just one strand of LEDs, display them separately -- not in the middle of a long string of incandescents. And use a separate wall socket for the LEDs and incandescents.
8. LED Lights Have Vibrant Colors and a Variety of Shapes and Styles
LED holiday lights also come in your favorite sizes, from mini lights to the larger C7s and C9s. And, like the incandescents, LED holiday light strands are equipped with special effects like blinking, dimming and color shifting. Same old tricks, new technology. Remember: sometimes change is a good thing.
9. LED Lights Take Up Less Storage Space
10. By Using LED Lights, You're Setting a Good Example
Encourage others to try them out, and if you find a good deal at a local store, share the information. LED holiday lights don't mean the end to all that memory-making bedazzlement. Doesn't conspicuous consumption -- both overspending and using too much electricity -- seem inconsiderate and out of touch? You can continue to celebrate the holidays and all your traditions, but in an eco-conscious way.
Now that's a bright idea.