Will LED Christmas Lights Really Save You Money?

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Will LED Christmas Lights Really Save You Money?

by Tom Coffe

LED Christmas Lights
With the rising cost of just about everything, the sagging economy and the growing interest in “green” energy and materials across the country, it’s no wonder that LED Christmas lights are becoming more and more popular each year. This year a number of cities and companies have boasted how “green” they were by switching to LED Christmas lights instead of incandescent Christmas lights that they’ve used for years.

LED or Incandescent Christmas Lights?

The big question: are LED Christmas lights really that much better in the long run? Will switching to them save you money and save the environment? The answer isn’t quite as clear‐cut as you may think. Because there are thousands of different Christmas light configurations and options, both in LED Christmas light and regular Christmas lights, I decided to focus on two similar light strands, both made by the same company. They are:

The GE 100 LED Christmas light set versus The GE 100 Mini Light Christmas light set

 Both sets are from Amazon.com, both sets are made by GE and I chose them because they had the exact same number of “bulbs” and because these two particular sizes of bulb are generally very popular.

Cost to Buy LED Christmas Lights vs Regular Christmas Lights

In our example the LED Christmas lights cost just about double that of the regular lights. The LED lights are selling for $26.99 and the regular Christmas lights are selling for $13.99 (which seems high in my experience). If you go to different stores you’ll see a wide range of prices. In some of my shopping around I found a strand of 60 regular Christmas lights for $2.99 and a strand of 70 LED Christmas lights for $9.99, which is nearly three times as much.

In our example six strands of LED Christmas lights would cost $161.94 to buy. It would only cost $83.94 to buy the regular Christmas lights, which means there is a savings of $78 when going with the regular Christmas lights.

Clearly, LED Christmas lights cost more initially, but the big difference in costs come in paying for the electricity to run them.

The Durability of LED Christmas Lights vs Regular Christmas Lights

LED Christmas light packages often advertise how much more durable LED Christmas lights are over the small incandescent bulbs and that claim in largely true when it comes to the bulb. You can hit an LED pretty hard and not break it, but those regular Christmas lights can crunch like potato chips if you aren’t careful. Beyond that, both types of Christmas lights are still mostly composed of similar thin wires thin rubber insulation. You can just as easily cut or nick the wire in a strand of LED Christmas lights as you can with regular Christmas lights.

I’ve also noticed that newer LED Christmas light packaging mentions that you can connect together many, many more strands of LED Christmas lights off one another than with regular Christmas lights. Some older 
LED Christmas light boxes still advise only connecting “3 or less” strands together. Unfortunately, I don’t think many people actually follow that advise very closely.

LED Christmas lights also like to advertise their long life. In our example the LED Christmas light set advertises a “20,000 hour average life”. Let’s go back and assume we’re using our Christmas lights for 30 days at 5 hours a day. That’s 150 hours in a single  Christmas season. That means that the LEDs on your LED Christmas lights will last 153 Christmas seasons.

That’s a bit ridiculous and clearly a meaningless advertising ploy. I’m guessing that the wires between the  LED lights will disintegrate in that time and in 150 years there will probably be some new Christmas light  technology that you’ll want to take advantage of. So while 20,000 hours sounds great, it’s a bit overblown.  Overall, though, LED Christmas lights will have a tendency to last longer than regular Christmas light strands.

The “Green” Factor of LED Christmas Lights vs Regular Christmas Lights

So which type of Christmas light is more green? It’s hard to say for sure, and here’s why: LED Christmas  lights certain use less electricity and using less energy (and burning less carbon) is always a good thing from  an environmental standpoint. A lot of environmental websites like to claim that LED Christmas are good for the environment, but I’m a little skeptical when you look at the big picture.

LED Christmas lights are basically made of plastic and that newly manufactured plastic, like almost everything else, they will eventually end up in a landfill one day. I have no idea how “green” the manufacture process is for LED Christmas lights. I can’t imagine it is much different from any other plastic product. And those old but perfectly functional  incandescent Christmas lights you’re replacing with your new LED lights? Where are they going to end up?

Final Cost Analysis of Christmas Lights

Yes, LED Christmas lights use less energy and cost less to run, but their cost savings are negated by their much higher price. It’s difficult to make up that cost just in energy savings unless you’re going to use your Christmas lights all year. LED Christmas lights are more durable than regular Christmas lights, but they’re still made of the same cheap plastic parts and cheap wiring as regular incandescent lights.

If you are really serious about Christmas decorations and want to buy some professional Christmas lights that you can’t find in the local Wal-Mart, then you’ll want to probably look online. There are some specialty stores, but many of them actually sell through Amazon.com which now offers a pretty reasonable selection of commercial grade LED Christmas lights .

Ultimately using LED Christmas lights is a personal decision which may not necessarily save you any real money, but will indeed save some energy when using them. Have a great time decorating your home this year and putting up those Christmas lights, whatever kind they are!
--Posted by - my-christmas2013 -
- my-christmas2013 - Updated at: 8:34 PM

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