When electricity was “penny cheap”, holiday lighting had two primary applications. The C7 7 watt bulb (night light size) was used for indoor applications and the C9 9-10 watt bulb was used for gutters and outdoor trees. Miniature strings were around but many shied away from them due to the fact that when one bulb burned out, the set went out. There are still plenty of bad memories being retold of the frustrations incurred trying to find the one bulb that had burned out.
Along came the 1980s and the introduction of the new 5 watt C7 and 7 watt C9. This meant substantial energy savings but, of course, the bulbs were dimmer. By then, the miniature string sets had a shunting device installed that kept the set burning even when individual bulbs burned out. These were nice improvements but nothing too revolutionary. The bulbs were rated from 1,000 to 3,000 burning hours. A decade later, the miniatures took a big step forward with a set that stayed lit even if a bulb came out of the socket. These miniature strings were sold under the trademarks of Stay-lit, Ever-lit, Ever-on, Dura-lit…
These lights still required the annual maintenance and relatively frequent change outs. In addition, color fading remained a primary problem. In one year, the blue set would often become a clear set due to sun fading. According to eLightBulbs customers, there is a higher percentage chance that the customer will just buy and throw strings away in commercial applications than perform time consuming maintenance.
According to the marketing campaigns since about 2005, the introduction of the LED Holiday Lighting product has solved all concerns. LED holiday lighting has now been introduced in several styles. The strings to replace the traditional miniature are called M5 (mini bulbs 5mm in diameter) strings. A little larger strawberry shaped mini string called the C6 has proven just as popular. Other miniature styles include “conical” & “raspberry”. There are also the two styles of retrofit LED bulbs to replace the traditional lights. These would be the C7 and C9 faceted screw base bulbs.
You may ask “What is so great about LED holiday lighting?” They are superior in several ways. These bulbs operate on approximately 10% of the energy drain of the incandescent they replace!! A typical miniature set that ran on 18 watts now operates on around 2 watts without any sacrifice of light output. In addition, the life rating on the led bulbs range from 50,000 to 100,000 burning hours compared to the incandescent rating of 1,000 to 3,000 hours. Using the plastic faceted covers has also solved the fading problem while adding a crystal/non glaring visual effect.
Typically, LED strings cost about 3-5 times that of the incandescent string they are replacing. However, the return on investment is exponential. You save on replacing the set and/or bulb up to 50 times over as well as saving approximately 90% on your energy consumption. Don’t forget that there would be no more replacement due to fading.
With these fantastic benefits, it would seem reasonable to always go with LEDs when installing your annual holiday lights. I agree that LED’s are the way to go. However, maybe not always. I have one specific caution that has not appeared on any marketing material that I know of. Ask yourself: “What about the cord?”. If your lights are used indoors, you should have no problem. Outdoors, however, is another story. While the bulbs are rated for years and years of use, the weather, squirrels, and UV rays can severely affect the integrity of the cord in only one year if the set is left out year round. Vandalism could also reduce the investment savings.
The procurement staff at eLightBulbs has expressed this concern to the manufacturers. Since the LED holiday lighting industry is still relatively new, we have yet to see the long term affect of outdoor use. We are always looking for the newest and highest quality in lighting. As this great new industry of LED lighting expands, you can rely on eLightBulbs to be riding the wave of new technology. But we will also insist on full disclosure to that you can make a true evaluation.
Is LED Holiday Lighting as good as it sounds? We at eLightBulbs say a qualified “Yes!”
Check out our LED Christmas / Holiday string sets and our C7 and C9 replacement bulbs!