Are LED Christmas Lights Better Than Incandescent Lights?

Christmas LED lights

The Spruce

Are you still decorating with incandescent Christmas lights, and wondering if it's finally time to switch to LED lights? Here's what you need to know to make an informed decision.

How LED Lights Work

LED Christmas lights use light-emitting diodes, rather than filament, to produce light. This makes LED lights more efficient, durable, and longer-lasting than fluorescent incandescent lights. They don't burn out, like other bulbs; and they also don't get hot to the touch, so they're a lot safer, too. LED lights are not only used during Christmastime. They can be found in other bulbs for different household uses year-round. These days, most commonplace light fixtures such as lamps, ceiling lights, or track lighting accept LED bulbs.

Money and Energy Savings

Incandescent bulbs waste a good deal of energy; a full 90 percent of their energy is released as heat, which is why regular light bulbs get so hot. LEDs are a different story. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, they use up to 75 percent less energy, and last 25 times as long.

They also don't require a lot of maintenance. Since LED bulbs don't burn out, just get dimmer over time, you don't have to fuss with replacing bulbs and fuses. Just plug them in, and they'll light up reliably year after year. Plus, home improvement stores often offer trade-in programs where you can turn in your old Christmas lights for a few dollars off of new, energy-efficient sets.

Benefits of LED Christmas Lights

Since LED Christmas lights don't get hot to the touch, they're safe to use inside around your Christmas tree, wreaths, and garlands. And they won't send your holiday electric bills sky high—even if you tend to go a bit crazy with the Christmas lights.

Just toss your lights in a box after Christmas is over, and pull them out again next year. Since the bulbs are plastic, you don't have to spend a bunch of time wrapping them to prevent breakage. Plus, LED Christmas lights come in a wide variety of styles, sizes, and colors, so there’s truly something for everyone. You can even find snowflake-shaped lights, rope lights, and net lights.

LED lights continue to improve; the first generation LED Christmas lights weren't able to match the pure white light of incandescent Christmas lights. The light was much bluer, and understandably, that was a big turn-off for a lot of people. However, LED Christmas lights are now available in both options. Choose cool white bulbs if you prefer the blue tone, or warm white bulbs if you prefer more of a golden tone.

In summary, the benefits of LED Christmas lights include the following:

  • They're durable and safe to the touch.
  • They're energy-efficient and will lower your electric bill.
  • They come in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes.
Christmas LED string lights
The Spruce 


LED lights typically have a higher initial cost when purchasing them compared to traditional bulbs. However, that cost will be offset over time with lower energy bills and the fact they don't need to be replaced as often. Take a trip to the store to look at the technology first-hand to decide if LEDs are right for you. Most retailers have displays that allow you to try out the bulbs, and some may even have entire trees or displays decorated with them.

Hanging Outdoor Christmas Lights

Start at the highest point of your home where you want to hang lights and move down from there. Use an all-purpose light clip if attaching to shingles or shutters, and point all the lights in the same direction. If you're attaching to railings, deck clips will work. Plug lights into an outdoor timer, preferably one that automatically turns on when it gets dark out.

Other Considerations

LED Christmas lights can be harsh for some people. Although advances have been made, some believe the bluish-white light of LED lights can't compare with the soft yellow glow of traditional incandescent lights. They can appear too strong or even lead to headaches and nausea in some people. When used outside, however, LED lights don't face these issues and their brightness can even enhance the appeal of an outdoor Christmas display.