Twinkle, Twinkle...
Star Light, Star Bright…What’s Up with Tree Lights?

LED Christmas lights

Many Americans love to decorate for the holidays with strings of lights, and most use standard incandescent lights — called C7s — or mini-lights. Did you know these types of bulbs use a significant amount of energy? And, because replacing the bulbs can be costly, it is cheaper to throw away a string of lights and buy a new one.

There’s something new on Christmas trees and it’s not the latest must-have ornament. Now, there are better ways to decorate — light emitting diode lights and fiber optic trees are the latest additions to the types of holiday lighting options.

Light Emitting Diode, or LED, lights have a number of benefits over conventional holiday lighting:

  • Energy efficiency. Mini-lights use 10 times as much energy as LEDs. C-7s use 100 times the energy of LEDs.
  • Long life span. Can operate for up to 100,000 hours indoors; 50,000 hours outside. Some LED lights will last up to 20 years.
  • Safety. Cool bulb temperature means no chance of combustion.
  • Sturdy bulbs. The epoxy lenses are virtually indestructible.
  • Easily strung together. Up to 25 strings can be connected end-to-end.
  • Lamp replacement. If a bulb goes bad, the others remain lit.

If all incandescent holiday bulbs were replaced with LED lights,
fiber optic Christmas tree
according to the U.S. Department of Energy, that would save enough energy in one thirty day period to power 200,000 homes for a year.

Fiber optic trees are a relatively new consumer option. These trees use a single incandescent bulb — typically ranging from 5 to 50 watts — and light is transmitted from that single bulb through hundreds of very small fibers and emitted along each branch of the tree. These lights are cool to the touch since only the light is transmitted along the fibers, not the heat. Fiber optics can also be found in many other holiday decorations.

The Western Area Power Administration has summarized options in a Holiday Lighting factsheet.
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