LED icicle lights

LED Icicle Lights: The Basics

LED icicle lights

This is NOT a recommended use for LED icicle lights.

LED Christmas lights, sometimes referred to as LED icicle lights, have grown rapidly in popularity in recent years. There are actually two distinct types of lights that are popularly known by this name.  First are the tiny lights dangling from wires, which when suspended create a net-like effect. Also widely known as LED icicle lights are LED lights that are actually made to resemble icicles. In order to avoid confusion, some people refer to the former type of light as ‘net’ LED lights.

LED is an acronym for ‘light emitting diode’, which produces light on a different basic principle than do incandescent or fluorescent lights. Light emitting diode work by the movement of electrons through semiconductor material. They have no filaments as in an incandescent light, nor do they contain gases, as in a fluorescent or neon type light.

A Mini LED Light Show (see a much bigger show below)

Something a little bit more complex…

Why are LED Lights So Popular?

Part of the reason for the popularity of LED Christmas lights is that they can be placed safely where children can touch them, as they don’t get hot. They also produce a brighter, more intense light than do other types of light. They can be found in various colors, such as white, which is far and away the most common,  as well as blue, red, green and orange.  The orange lights are actually getting a lot of use among Halloween fans!

Many people have found that the net style lights, in particular, are useful for more than Christmas displays. Many brides find the effect of the white net lights to be a desirable look for their reception areas. Some people like to use red, white and blue LED lights in patriotic displays.

Will LED Icicle Lights Last?

Many LED Christmas light manufacturers like to claim that their lights will last hundreds of thousands of hours. Such claims make it more palatable for buyers to shell out the higher cost demanded for these lights. However, the claims of such longevity ought to be taken with a grain or two of salt. While these lights may indeed deliver the promised performance under laboratory conditions, many users of these as outdoor Christmas lights find that they don’t last that long. The problem is not so much with the diodes themselves. In the real world, the plastic elements of the lights, which may be of varying quality, are subject to the rigors of the weather, not to mention being stored in sweltering attics for ten or eleven months of the year.

Are They Worth the Money?

In the end, many people will ask themselves if the potential savings in electric expense makes if worthwhile to junk a perfectly good set of incandescent lights to replace them with newly purchased icicle lights. Despite the claims of the manufacturers, it’s not clear that such a switch would make economic sense. However, every year there are advances in LED light technology and prices come down. Also, retailers routinely knock down the prices of Christmas lights after the season has passed.Nevertheless, if you do shell out for these icicle lights, it’s a certainty that your electric bill will receive less of a jolt over the holidays than if you were to go with incandescent lights. Although research into the relative efficiency of LED lights has been conducted by the US Department of Energy and many others, it’s hard to find a consensus owing to the number of variables that have to be accounted for, heat being perhaps the chief among them. Suffice it to say that your electric bill will be at least somewhat lower if you use LED’s to welcome Santa than if you use traditional incandescents.

I prefer to focus on the positive and look for the best way to handle things.  Maybe the best alternative for those wanting to create a new holiday look for their home is to await the after-Christmas sales and squeeze one more year out of the old incandescents.

Here are some tips for energy efficient lighting with LED lights.

Return to Example of a Blog home to read some more.

photo by: fifikins
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