Purple christmas lights on house

Purple christmas lights on house DEFAULT

Christmas lights

Decorative lighting used at Christmastime

This article is about the decoration. For the Coldplay song, see Christmas Lights (song). For the British TV special, see Christmas Lights (film).

Christmas lights (also known as fairy lights, festive lights or string lights) are lights often used for decoration in celebration of Christmas, often on display throughout the Christmas season including Advent and Christmastide. The custom goes back to when Christmas trees were decorated with candles, which symbolized Christ being the light of the world.[1] This custom was borrowed from pagan yule rituals that celebrate the return of the light of the sun as the days grow longer after solstice: the evergreen trees symbolising the renewal and continuance of life in dark times.[citation needed] The Christmas trees were brought by Christians into their homes in early modern Germany.[2][3]

Christmas trees displayed publicly and illuminated with electric lights became popular in the early 20th century. By the mid-20th century, it became customary to display strings of electric lights along streets and on buildings; Christmas decorations detached from the Christmas tree itself. In the United States, it became popular to outline private homes with such Christmas lights in tract housing beginning in the 1960s. By the late 20th century, the custom had also been adopted in other nations, including outside the Western world, notably in Japan and Hong Kong. It has since spread throughout Christendom.[4][1]

In many countries, Christmas lights, as well as other Christmas decorations, are traditionally erected on or around the first day of Advent.[5][6] In the Western Christian world, the two traditional days when Christmas lights are removed are Twelfth Night and Candlemas, the latter of which ends the Christmas-Epiphany season in some denominations.[7] Leaving the decorations up beyond Candlemas is historically considered to be inauspicious.[8]

History[edit]

The Christmas tree was adopted in upper-class homes in 18th-century Germany, where it was occasionally decorated with candles, which at the time was a comparatively expensive light source. Candles for the tree were glued with melted wax to a tree branch or attached by pins. Around 1890, candleholders were first used for Christmas candles. Between 1902 and 1914, small lanterns and glass balls to hold the candles started to be used. Early electric Christmas lights were introduced with electrification, beginning in the 1880s.

The illuminated Christmas tree became established in the UK during Queen Victoria's reign, and through emigration spread to North America and Australia. In her journal for Christmas Eve 1832, the 13-year-old princess wrote, "After dinner.. we then went into the drawing-room near the dining-room. There were two large round tables on which were placed two trees hung with lights and sugar ornaments. All the presents being placed round the trees".[9] Until the availability of inexpensive electrical power in the early 20th century, miniature candles were commonly (and in some cultures still are) used.

The first known electrically illuminated Christmas tree was the creation of Edward H. Johnson, an associate of inventor Thomas Edison. While he was vice president of the Edison Electric Light Company, a predecessor of today's Con Edisonelectric utility, he had Christmas tree light bulbs especially made for him. He proudly displayed his Christmas tree, which was hand-wired with 80 red, white and blue electric incandescent light bulbs the size of walnuts, on December 22, 1882 at his home on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Local newspapers ignored the story, seeing it as a publicity stunt. However, it was published by a Detroit newspaper reporter, and Johnson has become widely regarded as the Father of Electric Christmas Tree Lights. By 1900, businesses started stringing up Christmas lights behind their windows.[10] Christmas lights were too expensive for the average person; as such, electric Christmas lights did not become the majority replacement for candles until 1930.[11]

In 1895, US President Grover Cleveland sponsored the first electrically-lit Christmas tree in the White House. It was a huge specimen, featuring over a hundred multicolored lights. The first commercially-produced Christmas tree lamps were manufactured in strings of multiples of eight sockets by the General Electric Co. of Harrison, New Jersey. Each socket took a miniature two-candela carbon-filament lamp.

From that point on, electrically-illuminated Christmas trees (only indoors) grew with mounting enthusiasm in the US and elsewhere. San Diego in 1904, Appleton, Wisconsin in 1909, and New York City in 1912 were the first recorded instances of the use of Christmas lights outside.[11]McAdenville, North Carolina claims to have been the first in 1956.[12] The Library of Congress credits the town for inventing "the tradition of decorating evergreen trees with Christmas lights dates back to 1956 when the McAdenville Men's Club conceived of the idea of decorating a few trees around the McAdenville Community Center."[13] However, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has had "lights" since 1931, but did not have real electric lights until 1956.[14] Furthermore, Philadelphia's Christmas Light Show and Disney's Christmas Tree also began in 1956.[15][16] In Canada, archival photos taken in 1956 around suburban Toronto capture several instances of outdoor evergreens illuminated with Christmas lights.[17] Though General Electric sponsored community lighting competitions during the 1920s, it would take until the mid-1950s for the use of such lights to be adopted by average households.

Christmas lights found use in places other than Christmas trees. By 1919, city electrician John Malpiede began decorating the new Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado, eventually expanding the display to the park's Greek Amphitheater and later to the adjacent new Denver City and County Building - City Hall upon its completion in 1932. [18][19] Soon, strings of lights adorned mantles and doorways inside homes, and ran along the rafters, roof lines, and porch railings of homes and businesses. In recent times, many city skyscrapers are decorated with long mostly-vertical strings of a common theme, and are activated simultaneously in Grand Illumination ceremonies.

In 1963, a boycott of Christmas lights was done in Greenville, North Carolina to protest the segregation that kept blacks from being employed by downtown businesses in Greenville, during the Christmas sales season. Known as the Black Christmas boycott or "Christmas Sacrifice", it was an effective way to protest the cultural and fiscal segregation in the town with 33% black population. Light decorations in the homes, on the Christmas trees, or outside the house were not shown, and only six houses in the black community broke the boycott that Christmas.[20]

In 1973 during an oil shortage triggered by an embargo by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (later OPEC) President Nixon asked Americans not to put up Christmas lights to conserve energy use. Many Americans complied, and there were fewer displays that year.[21]

In the mid-2000s, the video of the home of Carson Williams was widely distributed on the internet as a viral video. It garnered national attention in 2005 from The Today Show on NBC, Inside Edition and the CBS Evening News and was featured in a Miller television commercial.[22][23] Williams turned his hobby into a commercial venture, and was commissioned to scale up his vision to a scale of 250,000 lights at a Denver shopping center, as well as displays in parks and zoos.

Technology[edit]

Main article: Holiday lighting technology

A set of fluorescent Christmas lights

The technology used in Christmas lighting displays is highly diverse, ranging from simple light strands, Christmas lights (a.k.a. Fairy lights), through to full blown animated tableaux, involving complex illuminated animatronics and statues.

Christmas lights (also called twinkle lights,holiday lights,mini lights or fairy lights), that are strands of electric lights used to decorate homes, public/commercial buildings and Christmas trees during the Christmas season are amongst the most recognized form of Christmas lighting. Christmas lights come in a dazzling array of configurations and colors. The small "midget" bulbs commonly known as fairy lights are also called Italian lights in some parts of the U.S., such as Chicago.

The types of lamps used in Christmas lighting also vary considerably, reflecting the diversity of modern lighting technology in general. Common lamp types are incandescent light bulbs and now light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are being increasingly encouraged as being more energy efficient. Less common are neon lamp sets. Fluorescent lamp sets were produced for a limited time by Sylvania in the mid-1940s.[24]

Christmas lights using incandescent bulbs are somewhat notorious for being difficult to troubleshoot and repair. In the 1950s and 1960s, the series circuit connected light sets would go completely dark when a single bulb failed. So in the fairly recent past, the mini-lights have come with shunts to allow a set to continue to operate with a burned out bulb. However, if there are multiple bulb failures or a shunt is bad, the string can still fail. There are two basic ways to troubleshoot this: a one by one replacement with a known good bulb, or by using a test light to find out where the voltage gets interrupted. One example made specifically for Christmas lights is the LightKeeper Pro.

When Christmas light manufacturers first started using LEDs the colors seemed very dull and uninspiring. Even the white lights, which were typically single-chip LEDs, glowed with a faintly yellowish color that made them look cheap and unattractive.[25][according to whom?]

Outdoor displays[edit]

South Coast Plaza Christmas tree

Public venues[edit]

Displays of Christmas lights in public venues and on public buildings are a popular part of the annual celebration of Christmas, and may be set up by businesses or by local governments. The displays utilize Christmas lights in many ways, including decking towering Christmas trees in public squares, street trees and park trees, adorning lampposts and other such structures, decorating significant buildings such as town halls and department stores, and lighting up popular tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Opera House. It is believed that the first outdoor public electric light Christmas Holiday display was organized by Fredrick Nash and the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce in Altadena, California, on Santa Rosa Avenue, called Christmas Tree Lane. Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena has been continuously lit except during WW2 since 1920. Annual displays in Regent Street and Oxford Street, London, date from 1954 and 1959 respectively.

Neighbourhoods[edit]

From the 1960s, beginning with tract housing in the US, it became increasingly common to outline the house (particularly the eaves) with weatherproof Christmas lights. The Holiday Trail of Lights is a joint effort by cities in east Texas and northwest Louisiana that had its origins in the Festival of Lights and Christmas Festival in Natchitoches, started in 1927, making it one of the oldest light festivals in the US. Fulton Street in Palo Alto, California, has the nickname "Christmas Tree Lane" due to the display of lighted Christmas trees along the street.[26]

Illuminated Celtic cross, Bon Air Presbyterian Church, Virginia, in snow storm at night

A familiar pastime during the holiday season is to drive or walk around neighborhoods in the evening to see the lights displayed on homes. While some homes have no lights, others may have ornate displays requiring weeks to construct. A few have made it to the Extreme ChristmasTV specials shown on HGTV, at least one requiring a generator and another requiring separate electrical service to supply the electrical power required. In Australia and New Zealand, chains of Christmas lights were quickly adopted as an effective way to provide ambient lighting to verandas, where cold beer is often served in the hot summer evenings. Since the late 20th century, increasingly elaborate Christmas lights have been displayed, and driving around between 8 and 10 p.m. to view the lights has become a popular form of family entertainment. In some areas Christmas lighting becomes a fierce competition, with town councils offering awards for the best decorated house, in other areas it is seen as a co-operative effort, with residents priding themselves on their street or their neighbourhood. The town of Lobethal, South Australia, in the Adelaide Hills, is famed for its Christmas lighting displays. Many residents expend great effort to have the best light display in the town. Residents from the nearby city of Adelaide often drive to the town to view them. In the US, the television series The Great Christmas Light Fight features homes across the country in a competition of homes with elaborate Christmas light displays.

Other holidays[edit]

In the United States, lights have been produced for many other holidays. These may be simple sets in typical holiday colors, or the type with plastic ornaments which the light socket fits into. Light sculptures are also produced in typical holiday icons.

Halloween is the most popular, with miniature light strings having black-insulated wires and semi-opaque orange bulbs. Later sets had some transparent purple bulbs (a representation of black, similar to blacklight), a few even have transparent green, or a translucent or semi-opaque lime green (possibly representing slime as in Ghostbusters, or creatures like goblins or space aliens). Two types of icicle lights are sold at Halloween: all-orange, and a combination of purple and green known as "slime lights".

Easter lights are often produced in pastels. These typically have white wire and connectors.

Red, white, and blue lights are produced for Independence Day, as well as U.S. flag and other patriotic-themed ornaments. Net lights have been produced with the lights in a U.S. flag pattern. In 2006, some stores carried stakes with LEDs that light fiber-optics, looking similar to fireworks.

These above light strings are occasionally used on Christmas trees anyway, usually to add extra variety to the colors of the lights on the tree.

Various types of patio lighting with no holiday theme are also made for summertime. These are often clear white lights, but most are ornament sets, such as lanterns made of metal or bamboo, or plastic ornaments in the shape of barbecuecondiments, flamingos and palm trees, or even various beers. Some are made of decorative wire or mesh, in abstract shapes such as dragonflies, often with glass "gems" or marbles. Light sculptures are also made in everything from wire-mesh frogs to artificial palm trees outlined in rope lights.

In Pakistan, fairy lights are often used to decorate in celebration of Eid ul-Fitr at Chaand Raat, which occurs at the end of Ramadan. In India on Diwali too, homes, shops and streets are decorated with strings of fairy lights.

Environment, recycling, and safety[edit]

Christmas lights, Bangkok

Christmas lighting leads to some recycling issues. Annually more than 20 million pounds of discarded holiday lights are shipped to Shijiao, China (near Guangzhou), which has been referred to as "the world capital for recycling Christmas lights".[27] The region began importing discarded lights circa 1990 in part because of its cheap labor and low environmental standards.[27] As late as 2009, many factories burned the lights to melt the plastic and retrieve the copper wire, releasing toxic fumes into the environment.[27] A safer technique was developed that involved chopping the lights into a fine sand-like consistency, mixing it with water and vibrating the slurry on a table causing the different elements to separate out, similar to the process of panning for gold.[27] Everything is recycled: copper, brass, plastic and glass.

More cities in the US are establishing schemes to recycle Christmas lights, with towns organizing drop-off points for handing in old lights.[28][29]

As of December 2019, most scrap metal recycling centers will purchase traditional incandescent Christmas lights for between USD$0.10/Lb - USD$0.20/Lb (€0.20/Kg - €0.40/kg).[30] This scrap value is primarily derived from the recycling value of the copper found inside the wire, and to a lesser degree, other metals and alloys. As an example, a standard 20 ft (6.1m) strand of modern incandescent Christmas lights weighing about 0.72 Lbs (0.33 kilo) was found to have less than 20% recoverable copper by weight.[30]

Installing holiday lighting may be a safety hazard when incorrectly connecting several strands of lights, repeatedly using the same extension cords, or using an unsafe ladder during the installation process.

Light sculptures[edit]

Manning Close Christmas Light Show, Wells, Somerset, England

Christmas light sculptures, also called motifs, are used as Christmas decorations and for other holidays. Originally, these were large wireframemetalwork pieces made for public displays, such as for a municipal government to place on utility poles, and shopping centers to place on lampposts. Since the 1990s, these are also made in small plastic home versions that can be hung in a window, or on a door or wall. Framed motifs can be lit using mini lights or ropelight, and larger scale motifs and sculptures may use C7 bulbs.

Light sculptures can be either flat (most common) or three-dimensional. Flat sculptures are the motifs, and are often on metal frames, but garland can also be attached to outdoor motifs. Indoor motifs often have a multicolored plastic backing sheet, sometimes holographic. 3D sculptures include deer or reindeer (even moose) in various positions, and with or without antlers, often with a motor to move the head up and down or side to side as if grazing. These and other 3D displays may be bare-frame, or be covered with garland, looped and woven transparent plastic cord or acrylic, or natural or goldtone-painted vines. Snowflakes are a popular design for municipal displays, so as not to be misconstrued as a governmentendorsement of religion, or so they can be left up all winter.

Some places make huge displays of these during December, such as Callaway Gardens, Life University, and Lake Lanier Islands in the U.S. state of Georgia. In east Tennessee, the cities of Chattanooga, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg have light sculptures up all winter. Gatlinburg also has custom ones for Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day, while Pigeon Forge puts flowers on its tall lampposts for spring, and for winter has a steamboat and the famous picture of U.S. MarinesRaising the Flag on Iwo Jima, in addition to the city's historic Old Mill.

Some sculptures have microcontrollers that sequence circuits of lights, so that the object appears to be in motion. This is used for things such as snowflakes falling, Santa Claus waving, a peacedove flapping its wings, or train wheels rolling.

Examples[edit]

  • Peter Larsen illuminated coffee pot

  • Christmas street illumination in Viborg

  • City lights, Christmastime

  • Lighted trees and houses in Schöckingen

  • The clock tower of Kozani; a landmark of the city.

  • Essex Christmas lighting ceremony

  • The Dyker Heights neighborhood (nicknamed "Dyker Lights" for its holiday lights displays) of Brooklyn, New York

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ abFelix, Antonia (1999). Christmas in America. Courage Books. ISBN . Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  2. ^"History of Christmas Trees". History. 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  3. ^North Dakota Outdoors, Volumes 27–28. State Game and Fish Department of North Dakota. 1964. p. lvii.
  4. ^Dohmen, Christoph (2000). No Trace of Christmas?: Discovering Advent in the Old Testament. Liturgical Press. p. 62. ISBN .
  5. ^Michelin (10 October 2012). Germany Green Guide Michelin 2012–2013. Michelin. p. 73. ISBN .
  6. ^Normark, Helena (1997). "Modern Christmas". Graphic Garden. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  7. ^"Candlemas". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  8. ^Raedisch, Linda (1 October 2013). The Old Magic of Christmas: Yuletide Traditions for the Darkest Days of the Year. Llewellyn Publications. p. 161. ISBN . Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  9. ^The girlhood of Queen Victoria: a selection from Her Majesty's diaries. p. 61. Longmans, Green & co., 1912. University of Wisconsin.
  10. ^"Christmas Lights and Community Building in America"(PDF). Archived from the original(PDF) on October 26, 2006.
  11. ^ abChristmas Lights and Community Building in America, 20
  12. ^"HISTORY". www.mcadenville-christmastown.com.
  13. ^"Christmas Town U.S.A."lcweb2.loc.gov. 30 November 2018.
  14. ^"Dining, shopping and nightlife". NBC New York. Archived from the original on 2008-09-27. Retrieved 2006-08-18.
  15. ^"Untitled Document". www.wanamakerorgan.com. Archived from the original on 2020-11-19. Retrieved 2006-08-18.
  16. ^National Christmas Tree Association: Famous TreesArchived January 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^City of Toronto Archiveshttps://gencat.eloquent-systems.com/city-of-toronto-archives-m-permalink.html?key=305459. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  18. ^"Noel: Colorado's been lighting the way for the solstice".
  19. ^"The History of Denver's Holiday Lights".
  20. ^North Carolina and the Negro. North Carolina Mayors' Co-operating Committee, 1964. editors, Capus M. Waynick, John C. Brooks [and] Elsie W. Pitts. Page 94.
  21. ^Malcolm, Andrew H. "Fuel Crisis Dims Holiday Lights".
  22. ^"links to house light videos, including Miller Lite commercial". Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  23. ^"Wizards in Winter". ConSar Lights Portfolio. Retrieved 2006-11-28.
  24. ^Nelson, George. "The War Years: 1941-1945". OldChristmasTreeLights.com. Retrieved 2006-11-12.
  25. ^"LED history". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  26. ^Dungan, Jesse (December 9, 2010). "Palo Alto's 'Christmas Tree Lane' turns 70". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  27. ^ abcd"The Chinese Town That Turns Your Old Christmas Tree Lights Into Slippers", Adam Minter, The Atlantic, Dec 21, 2011.
  28. ^Towns offer Christmas light recyclingArchived 2020-07-31 at the Wayback Machine. Northwest Herald. November 25, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  29. ^Briefs: Recycle lights before and after Christmas. November 23, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  30. ^ ab"How To Scrap Christmas Lights With Copper Recovery", ScrapMetalJunkie.com, Retrieved June 3rd, 2020.

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_lights

Christmas lights bring a unique glimmering warmth to your holiday season—or your backyard, your favorite dive bar, or really anywhere else, for that matter. After more than 100 hours of researching, interviewing experts, and testing more than 25 different string light sets, we believe GE’s Energy Smart Colorite LED Miniature Lights (available in strands of 150 bulbs in multicolor or warm white) offer a combination of light quality, color accuracy, and wide availability that has been unmatched among competitors since we began recommending GE’s Colorite strands in 2014.

Like all LED models, the GE Colorite lights are safer, more durable, and longer lasting than traditional incandescent lights, and they barely draw any electricity at all. Among the LEDs we looked at, we found that the GE Colorite’s hues of warm white and especially multicolor closely matched those of traditional incandescents. They also have a tidy wire that doesn’t curl or twist, simplifying the task of draping them through a tree or storing them in the off-season. The bulbs should last for at least 10 holiday seasons, and you can replace individual bulbs if they go out (or you can just leave those; the rest of the strand will stay lit). Although you can use the Colorite sets outdoors, we think they’re best for indoor use, since the bulbs aren’t completely watertight. Overall, these lights offer better benefits and have fewer drawbacks than any other indoor lights we tested.

The GE lights have sold out quickly the past few years, so if that happens again, we recommend the Christmas Designers T5 Smooth LED Christmas Lights (available in warm white, multicolor, or solid color). In our tests the multicolor lights looked as good as those from GE, while the warm white lights had a cooler tone that was a little further from the coziness of an incandescent.

For outdoor use, we recommend the Christmas Lights Etc Kringle Traditions Wide-Angle 5mm Outdoor LED Christmas Tree Lights, available in white, multicolor, or single color in a variety of lengths and bulb spacings. These lights offer all the benefits of LEDs as well as a design that makes each bulb impervious to moisture for weeks in the snowy, sleety, rainy outdoors—we confirmed that by leaving a lit set submerged in a water-filled bucket all day. We liked the warmth of the color, the bright light output, and the manageable wires. Due to the unusual design of the wide-angle bulb, the brightness of each changes dramatically depending on where you’re standing, giving the lights texture and depth when they’re draped over a tree or twisting around a porch post. Because they’re likely to be exposed to harsh exterior conditions, these lights have a shorter lifespan than indoor LEDs, but you can still expect six or seven seasons out of them. The only major drawback is that they’re a bit too bright for indoor use. Pro lighting designers and other experts have consistently named this particular type of bulb as the ideal choice for outdoor holiday-lighting displays. If the Christmas Lights Etc lights aren’t available, Christmas Designers makes a similar string light that’s just as good but a little less bright.

Last, if you’re not ready to give up the unique warm twinkle of incandescents on an indoor tree, Christmas Lights Etc’s Clear Christmas Tree Mini Lights are our favorites. These mini-light sets emit the warmest overall light, and like our other picks, they have an easy-handling wire. They also cost less than an LED strand, but they’re not as durable, they’re less efficient, and they won’t last as long—you can expect 2,000 to 3,000 hours of use, versus an average life of 20,000 hours for our pick. That’s just the bulb life, too, not even taking into account how fragile and easily breakable an incandescent filament is.

If you really want your home to sparkle and shine for the winter holiday—and maybe for other occasions, too—get the 250-count Twinkly Generation II Smart RGB-W LED String Lights. These Wi-Fi–enabled Christmas lights offer 16 million color choices that can be employed in any number of moving, blinking, multicolored patterns. With the app’s built-in “mapping” feature, you can even single out individual lights to create custom effects that spiral around your Christmas tree, or your railing, or wherever else you choose to set them up. They are significantly more expensive than most other Christmas lights, but the endless possibilities and weather-resistant construction mean you can also keep them strung up all year round and customize the colors to go with every occasion. You can even sync the flashing lights to move in time with music. As impressive as the Twinkly app might be, it does glitch on occasion, and the user interface could use some improvements, particularly on the mapping feature and the music sync. Still, we expect this software to continue to improve; we even observed some noticeably helpful firmware updates in the course of our testing. And even with the app frustrations, the Twinklys offer enough options that you’ll get your money’s worth—or at least you’ll never get bored. (Also available in a 400-count set that will save you more money per bulb.)

Get more of our Christmas decorating recommendations

Everything we recommend

Why you should trust us

It wasn’t easy to pick out these specific models from the seemingly infinite selection of Christmas lights in the world. But we reached our conclusions with the input of several people who live and breathe lights: Ben Orr, owner of Northern Seasonal Services, who has been professionally installing holiday lighting in the Chicago area since 2005; Jason Woodward, the director of sales and marketing at Christmas Designers, a retailer specializing in holiday lighting; John Strainic, GE’s general manager of North America consumer lighting; and Anthony Krize, vice president of Nicolas Holiday, the brand-management company for GE’s Christmas lights.

We also enlisted the aid of professionals in our testing process to help us assess the color quality of each string light set. In previous years, we consulted Susan Moriarty, executive creative director and founder of the Boston-based creative agency The Soapbox Studio, who has 20 years of experience as an art director, designer, and photographer. For our most recent round of testing, we relied on the eyes of Bridget Collins, the interim lighting and projections supervisor at the Tony Award–recognized Huntington Theatre Company, a Boston theater where guide co-author Thom Dunn was a writing fellow from 2015 to 2017, as well as Ari Herzig, a professional lighting and projections designer.

How we picked

Many different kinds of Christmas string light bulbs are available, and many people already know what they like—even if they don’t necessarily know that a type of light is called a C9 or an M5 or anything else. For this guide, however, we focused on the standard nonblinking miniature (or T5) lights. These are the small, traditional, candle-shaped Christmas lights that most people are used to. As this DIY Network article says, even though larger bulbs are growing in popularity, “mini lights have been by far the most popular during the past decade,” and we confirmed this in our conversations with Jason Woodward of Christmas Designers and Anthony Krize of Nicolas Holiday/GE Brands. During our research, we also found that blinking lights represent a very small minority of the available lights, so we stayed with the type that remains lit at all times.

The earliest Christmas lights were incandescent—that is, they got their glow from a heated filament inside the glass bulb, like any other commercial light bulb. This component creates a nice, warm radiance in the room that many people associate with the holiday season. Since the early 2000s, however, LED Christmas lights have become increasingly popular, and they’re often easier to find now than the traditional incandescent ones. LEDs tend to cost more than their incandescent counterparts, but they also last longer and use a lot less electricity, and thus produce less heat, which makes them safer overall. As Jason Woodward from Christmas Designers told us, “The benefits offered by LEDs are almost as significant as the benefits that incandescents provided over candles.” Some people are understandably hesitant to use LEDs—older or poorly made LEDs can sometimes be too bright or cause a kind of nauseating strobe effect. But the technology has advanced enough in recent years that we feel confident recommending them. However, we still sought out some incandescent options for people who prefer that traditional warmth.

Many LED Christmas lights can work well indoors or outdoors. For outdoor lights, our experts directed us toward a specific style of LED: 5-millimeter wide-angle conicals. The bulbs on these lights are stubby and don’t have the homespun look of the small glass candle found on other mini lights. They are much brighter than regular mini lights (both LED and incandescent), and the unique shape of the bulb adds depth and complexity to the lights’ appearance. As lighting installer Ben Orr of Northern Seasonal Services told us, this shape allows the strand to “refract the light and create a cool look depending on the angle of view.” Orr continued, “It appears that some are brighter than others and it adds contrast.” He added that 5 mm wide-angle lights are generally his favorite light. And Christmas Designers, in a video dedicated to the bulbs, says these lights are “by far the most popular set we sell.”

But as with regular LED bulbs, the color of the light is a concern. We figure that if you’re reading this guide, you’re probably interested in replacing an old set of incandescent lights—but even if you want something more efficient and durable, you probably don’t want to give up the traditional lights’ familiar warm glow. Unfortunately, that is an issue with LEDs.

Both Orr and Woodward warned us that LEDs simply do not look like incandescents. Due to improvements in technology, many companies manufacture a warm white color that, depending on the quality of the LED, can closely mimic but not fully achieve the pinpoint sparkle of an incandescent. Orr stressed that “LED technology varies throughout the industry, and a warm white from one supplier can vary in hues and color drastically from another.” He even suggested buying strands from a few different manufacturers to compare them and see which hue you like best before making a large purchase—once you find something you like, he said, buy from only that manufacturer. Our testing confirmed that there is a tremendous variety in LED color hues, from the fantastic to the terrible.

In selecting the strands we wanted to test, we searched all of the larger online retailers (Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, Walmart). Orr told us that he purchases his lights from a specialty retailer, so we also looked at lights from Christmas Designers, Christmas Lights Etc, and Christmas Light Source. These specialty retailers deal only in Christmas lights and focus on the needs of the professional, though they certainly have no problems with a regular shopper purchasing from them. Each store seems to have its own in-house brand of lights, so you won’t see them selling Martha Stewart or GE lights. We’ve found that these companies are extremely knowledgeable about lighting, and in general their items are very nice.

We dismissed companies that had overall poor reviews (Holiday Time), strange or incomplete bulb selections (EcoSmart), or suspiciously low pricing (Home Accents Holiday). Other companies, such as Hometown Evolution and AGPtek, fall more into the general exterior-decor category and don’t have a wide selection of Christmas lights. AGPtek, in particular, deals only in solar-powered or battery lights, which are more of a specialty item, and we wanted to concentrate on general tree and exterior lighting.

How we tested

Four large cardboard boxes on a wooden floor, filled with, and surrounded by, Christmas string lights.

Since 2014, we’ve tested dozens of string light sets in both white and multicolor, including standard T5 LEDs, incandescents, and 5 mm wide-angle conical LEDs. For our most recent tests in 2019, we looked at 11 sets of white lights, eight sets of multicolor lights, and one set of color-changing lights. To evaluate all of the sets, we wound and unwound them and arranged them around a home, including wrapping them around poles and draping them over railings—basically, we tried to use the lights how they’re intended to be used.

We then took them to a dedicated black-box theater space at the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston, which has transferred numerous plays to Broadway and London’s West End. We set up all the light sets in a pure black space and evaluated them for color temperature and accuracy with the help of the company’s theatrical lighting supervisor, Bridget Collins. (In previous years we’ve relied on similar outside expertise from Susan Moriarty, executive creative director and founder of The Soapbox Studio, also in Boston.) Afterward, we tested the weather impermeability of each set by sinking the lights into a 5-gallon bucket of water and leaving it outside in the cold rain overnight (the temperature didn’t drop below freezing). Although this test is a bit extreme, it’s certainly possible that any set of exterior lights will end up in a puddle or draped in a gutter.

Overall, we found that the wire quality has a lot to do with the success of a strand of lights. Some of the tested lights had tidy, close-knit strands of wire, while others were loose and messy. Some wires needed untwisting before use, like an old phone cord, and still others continued to accordion back on themselves no matter how we tried to stretch them out and lay them flat.

Our pick: GE Energy Smart Colorite LED Miniature Lights

GE was the first company in America to sell Christmas string lights, and we think it still makes the best ones overall. GE’s Energy Smart Colorite LED Miniature Lights are available in multicolor and warm white, and they offer all the benefits of LED lights, including high durability, zero heat output, and a long life expectancy. They also produce a warm radiance that closely resembles the classic glow of incandescent bulbs. There’s no noticeable flicker as on some other LED lights we tested, which were either too dull or glaringly bright and gave us a headache when they moved. The GE Colorite lights are also well-made and durable, with a tightly wound wire that maintains its memory while still being easy to drape on trees or railings (plus, it’s harder to tangle). GE has relied on the same Christmas lights manufacturer for more than 40 years, and that pedigree—and quality—shows. It doesn’t hurt that the lights are widely available online and in stores, too.

Two strands of multi-colored Christmas tree lights resting parallel on a wooden surface.

When it came to color temperature, the Colorites were the clear winner in our tests. The warm white and multicolor strands both gave off a warm tone that was closer to the overall look of an incandescent strand than what we saw from any of the other LEDs we considered. It’s not a 100% perfect match from up close, of course—the diode illuminates the entire colored bulb from certain angles, unlike in incandescents, which have a pinpoint filament that creates a twinkly, sparkly look. Note, however, that we made this distinction while specifically looking for differences between the bulbs: Once we were about 5 feet away, it became extremely difficult to tell these LEDs apart from the strand of incandescents, and we would be happy to light up our home with them.

Three strands of white lit Christmas lights hanging vertically in the dark.

From left: the Christmas Designers warm white incandescents, the GE Colorite warm white LEDs, and the Christmas Designers warm white T5 Smooth LEDs. Notice how the GE LEDs match the color of the incandescents but not their distinctive and even sparkle. The Christmas Designers LEDs have a cooler color and shine a little brighter. Photo: Doug Mahoney

Three strands of multi-colored lit Christmas lights hanging vertically in the dark.

From left: the Christmas Designers incandescents, the GE Colorite LEDs, and the Christmas Designers T5 Smooth LEDs. Again, the incandescents have the most consistent sparkle. The GE LEDs match the color (other than the purple), and the Christmas Designers LEDs shine brighter than the others. Photo: Doug Mahoney

We also liked that the GE Colorite wire strands were easy to manage. In our tests, they were tidy and had a nice flex. Out of the box, the lights unraveled nicely. And unlike other brands we tried, they needed no twisting on our part to stretch and flatten them out. They’re durable enough overall that they should be able to withstand the annual boxing and unboxing process without a hitch.

Instead of having a detachable bulb and a separate socket as an incandescent does, these bulbs encase a light-emitting diode in a block of molded plastic. The result still looks like a traditional Christmas light, but it’s harder to knock a bulb out of commission. Although we don’t suggest that you jump rope with your strands of LED lights, we do believe that they will be able to handle a drop.

We recommend the GE Colorite lights for indoor use, but they survived our outdoor durability tests, too. If you do end up breaking a bulb, the Constant On feature means the other ones will stay lit until you replace it, which is also possible. When we asked Jason Woodward of Christmas Designers about the lifespan of indoor LEDs, he told us, “High-grade LEDs haven’t been around long enough to really know how long they will last on an indoor application, but it should be at least 10 years.” That longevity should be good news for anyone who has ever pulled out their incandescent lights from the previous year, found a bunch of them mysteriously half-working or suffering from too many blown bulbs, and ended up throwing several away.

Like other LEDs, the GE Colorite lights emit zero heat when lit, so you can sleep easy while they’re lighting up your desiccated tree on New Year’s Eve. Incandescents, on the other hand, produce heat and can get quite hot—although newer incandescents are highly unlikely to ever start a tree fire, they could give an unsuspecting toddler quite a jolt. The Colorite sets have such low energy use that you can string together up to 25 of them without a problem (and even that’s pretty ambitious for most homes). The GE Colorite LEDs are also rectified (sometimes called “full wave”), which means they blink fast enough that they shouldn’t have any of those nausea-inducing flicker problems that some other LEDs have. This means you can use them with a dimmer or a lighting controller, too.

The GE Colorite lights generally cost around 20¢ per light, which is right where most good-quality LEDs land. They’re sometimes sold online under the name Nicolas Holiday, but don’t worry, they’re still the same lights. Either way, they’re a great value for their durability and longevity; there are sets that we bought in 2014 that are still going strong, although the wire strands have loosened a bit.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Although the GE Energy Smart Colorite LED Miniature Lights impressed us more than the others in both quality and overall color, we did discover a few drawbacks to these lights.

First, they don’t have stackable plugs, the kind of design where the male plug has a female outlet on the back side of it. With stackable plugs, you can piggyback multiple strands directly on the same outlet—a useful feature for outdoor displays where you might be lighting, for example, bushes in opposite directions on either side of a single outlet, but less of a necessity indoors. The lack of such a plug design could make for a crowded wall outlet, but a small power strip will solve the problem. You can still attach the Colorite strands end to end, just as you would any other set of Christmas lights.

A close-up of two different plug types on two different strands of Christmas lights. The plug on the left is marked with blue painter's tape.

Christmas-light purists may be dismayed at the look of the purple GE Colorite bulb. In our tests, on the incandescent strands the purple bulb was a deep reddish-pink color, but on the Colorite strand it was a bright, vivid purple that was slightly lavender and almost a little “cartoony.” Once the strands are wound around a tree, we don’t think most people will pick up on this difference, but if you’re color sensitive, it’s something to be aware of. Our runner-up lights don’t have a purple bulb, so they don’t have the same issue.

Finally, we’ve discovered that Christmas lights are manufactured on a seasonal basis, so when they’re gone, they’re gone. For the past few years, these GE lights have sold out in early December and remained unavailable for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, this also means that, if you have to wait a year to buy another set, the color temperature might not match exactly to the lights you bought last year. This can be particularly noticeable with white bulbs. “The reality is that Christmas light set making is not a year round production run and you are not getting LEDs 12 months a year from a supplier on that rolling, consistent basis,” Anthony Krize from Nicolas Holiday, who oversees the GE brand, told us over email. So while a single set of Christmas lights will look consistent, you may notice slight variations across different sets from different years (although they should all still fall within the “warm white” color range of 2700 to 3200 Kelvin).

Runner-up: Christmas Designers T5 Smooth LED Christmas Lights

If the GE Colorites are unavailable, we also like the Christmas Designers T5 Smooth LED Christmas Lights, which are available in warm white, multicolor, and solid color. In our tests, the Christmas Designers lights were very similar to the GE Colorites but slightly less bright and less warm. This was true for the white lights as well as the multicolor lights, particularly the yellow and orange (the Christmas Designers lights don’t have a purple bulb). The wires that connect these lights are also tightly wound, which makes them just as easy to wrap up as they are to unravel and maneuver around a tree. On average, the Christmas Designers lights are more expensive than the GE ones, but they’re well-made and durable, and the company offers bulk discounts, which can start to even things up depending on the size of your order.

The most obvious way that the Christmas Designers lights stand out from GE’s Colorites is that they have a stackable plug with both an input and output, which allows you to start multiple strands of lights from the same outlet. Unlike the GE Colorites, the Christmas Designers bulbs are made of a single piece of molded plastic. The upside is that this design makes it even harder for dirt and water to infiltrate the bulb and damage the circuitry; these bulbs are likely to be even more resilient outside than the GE bulbs. The downside is that, if a bulb does break, you won’t be able to replace it (but the rest of the string will still work). Otherwise, the LEDs contained within that plastic bulb offer all the same benefits as the LEDs from GE—low energy use, no heat output, and a longer life overall.

Christmas Designers lights are also uniquely available in solid-color strands in addition to the standard warm white and multicolor. They may be a better option if you’re looking to customize a display with green, red, blue, or pure white lights. This is because the company mainly sells to professional installers, although regular-shopper sales have increased significantly in recent years. As Jason Woodward, the company’s director of sales and marketing, told us, “The quickest growing part of our business are the residential, what I call our ‘Christmas enthusiasts’—people who are tired of the Big Box retail junk and are looking for a step up, something that will last longer and look good.” If you’re looking for that kind of sturdy construction—or if the GE Colorites are sold out, which tends to happen closer to the holidays—the Christmas Designers T5 lights are a great alternative.

Also great: Christmas Lights Etc Kringle Traditions Wide-Angle 5mm Outdoor LED Christmas Tree Lights

The Christmas Lights Etc Kringle Traditions Wide-Angle 5mm Outdoor LED Christmas Tree Lights give off a bright, warm color that is particularly perfect for the outdoors, whether you’re decorating a window box, a tree, a wreath, a railing, or a roofline. Christmas Lights Etc—not to be confused with Christmas Designers—also focuses largely on pro installations and thus offers a wide variety of lighting options, including white, multicolor, and solid single colors, with different bulb quantities and spacings. Like other LEDs, these lights cost more than incandescents, but because they’re specifically designed to withstand long-term exposure to moisture, your investment will be protected if they end up dropping into a puddle or a wet gutter while braving the elements in a cold, wet December. They also have a clean and tight wire, which in our tests made handling, hanging, and storing them easy. And because their electrical requirements are so low, you can connect a whopping 43 strands and run them on a single outlet before worrying about tripping a breaker; this design reduces the need for extension cords, which can be a big hidden cost with larger exterior displays. These Christmas Lights Etc outdoor lights are slightly brighter than our previous pick from Christmas Designers, but the two are otherwise similar—if you find the Christmas Designers version available in a color you prefer or at a better price, go for it.

The odd, stubby shape of the 5 mm wide-angle bulbs gives these lights a distinctive appearance. In addition to the fact that they’re already brighter than many regular LED mini lights, these wide-angle bulbs also emit a different level of brightness depending on the angle from which you view them. In the right situation, this design can almost replicate the “twinkly” look of incandescent lights that many people enjoy.

Two strands of blue Christmas lights with, each with differently shaped bulbs, setting parallel to each other on a wooden surface..

The Christmas Lights Etc wide-angle lights have what are called molded bulbs—that is, each bulb is a completely sealed, one-piece unit. There is no separating the bulb from the wire, and thus no way for moisture or grime to work into the socket, which makes them even better suited for outdoor displays. We tested this design by submerging the lights in a bucket of water outdoors overnight, and at no point did the lights show any ill effects from the test. However, this molded design also means that you can’t replace an individual light if any of them fail (although the rest of the string will keep working). Overall, we think this is a worthwhile trade-off for a bright set of lights that is likely to last even longer than other LED string lights. Just try not to step on the bulbs, and you should be fine.

Lit multi-colored Christmas lights submerged in a bucket of water.

Like the other lights from pro-installer brands, the Christmas Lights Etc wide-angle LEDs have a great wire. In our tests, they were easy to unravel and didn’t get tangled up like other, lower-quality lights such as the ones from Home Accent Holiday; in fact, the Christmas Lights Etc outdoor lights come in a balled-up clump when they arrive in the package. (We still suggest you wrap them up somewhat carefully when you’re done with them, just to prolong their life.) The neat organization of the wires gave our test strands a high-quality feel, which also gave us confidence that they’d keep running for years regardless of the weather or (most) other abuse they might endure. These lights don’t have issues with flickering, even when used with dimmers.

If you have great ambitions for your Christmas display, Christmas Lights Etc also offers a bulk discount for its outdoor lights—the more you buy, the less you pay for each individual set. Although you can use these as indoor lights, we personally found them a bit too bright, and both of the lighting professionals we consulted, in different years, agreed: Susan Moriarty from The Soapbox Studio said, “I don’t want to have to wear sunglasses while I’m looking at my Christmas tree.” If you like your tree to be especially bright, these Christmas Lights Etc lights are a great option, but we recommend that you purchase a single strand first and see for yourself before you take the plunge.

If by some chance the Christmas Lights Etc outdoor lights are unavailable, Christmas Designers sells nearly identical strands of 5 mm wide-angle bulbs in white, multicolor, or solid single colors that are a little dimmer but otherwise just as good.

Also great: Christmas Lights Etc Clear Christmas Tree Mini Lights (incandescent)

LED Christmas lights are better for most people because they’re more efficient and more durable, but if you can’t lose the distinctive and traditional look of incandescents for indoor use, we recommend Christmas Lights Etc’s Clear Christmas Tree Mini Lights. These lights offer a noticeable difference in color quality—they’re not the brightest, but they have a certain warmth and radiance that even the best LEDs struggle to match. It’s the kind of color temperature that immediately sparks memories of cold winter evenings by the fire (or the dive bar). The heated filament inside the bulb gives them that starry sparkle. However, it’s also designed to wear out over time to the point of self-destruction.

In our tests, the wires on the Christmas Lights Etc incandescent lights were tight and organized, and once we stretched them out, they lay flat and straight with no issues. Incandescents will never last as long as LEDs, but the wiring and wrapping on these make them feel sturdy and resilient enough to last for several seasons. They even survived when we submerged them in a water bucket and left it outdoors overnight, although we still don’t think they’re the best choice for outdoor use—it’s too easy for water and dirt to get caught in the sockets. If anything does go wrong and a bulb breaks or dies, incandescent lights are easy and affordable to replace: At this writing, they’re about 10¢ a bulb, which is about half as much as a single LED bulb. Incandescent lights also use more energy, so you can connect only up to five strands of the Christmas Lights Etc incandescents as opposed to 20-plus strands of LED string lights. But if a bulb does go out, the rest of the strand remains lit.

Like most items from Christmas Lights Etc, the incandescent strands are available in a variety of bulb spacings and colors, including multicolor and solid single colors. (We tested only the standard clear white lights.) If they’re unavailable, our previous pick from Christmas Designers is similar and still very good, although that company no longer sells a warm white incandescent option.

Upgrade pick: Twinkly Generation II Smart RGB-W LED String Lights

A smart phone using an app to program a nearby lit multicolor length of Twinkly Generation II Smart RGB-W LED String Lights, our upgrade pick for best Christmas lights.

The Wi-Fi–enabled Twinkly Generation II Smart RGB-W LED String Lights are the most robust and versatile Christmas lights we’ve ever tested. They’re also the most expensive. But if you’re truly serious about Christmas—and maybe other holidays too—a Twinkly set is worth the cost (the cost-per-bulb also drops significantly if you upgrade to the 400-light set). Other companies, including GE, have tried to create color-changing lights, but none of them have come close to what Twinkly has done with these lights: 16 million color choices that can be applied to a potentially endless number of patterns and lighting effects, all of which can be controlled and customized through an app. You’re not limited to the standard solid-white or multicolor options that blink on and off—you can create a pulsating glow, or alternating flickers of different colors, or even a scrolling motion with the colors of your favorite sports team. With one tap, you can set your lights to mimic the glimmer of falling snow or the swelling of a fire or even the Italian flag (the company is based in Italy; but you can easily sub in a different flag too). While the technology isn’t absolutely perfect yet, it’s still pretty impressive and offers much wider versatility than standard Christmas lights. They’re also weather-resistant, so they can work indoors or outdoors.

The Twinkly setup process is fairly simple and straightforward, at least as far as it is with any smart-home device is. Download the Twinkly app, and it walks you through everything you need. In case your home Wi-Fi network doesn’t reach out to where you’ve set them up, the lights even come with their own built-in (internet-less) Wi-Fi network so you can still control them through the app. Once they’re set up, you have the option to “map” your Christmas lights by holding up your phone camera to them like you’re taking a picture. You can do this two-dimensionally (if your lights are on a railing, for example), three-dimensionally (all around the Christmas tree, for example), or not at all. The app intuitively identifies which bulbs are where and uses this information to plot customizable animations across your light display; you can even choose one individual light to make a different color from the rest. As professional lighting/projection designer Ari Herzig told us, “You’re not paying for the lights—you’re paying for the software.” They also told us that a similar process on a standard professional lighting board would probably take about four to six hours.

A room decorated using Twinkly Smart String Lights, including a Christmas tree with red and white lights forming a candy cane twist, plus a red and white design on the mantlepiece.

While this mapping process is a remarkable technological achievement, it’s also somewhat cumbersome and unreliable. It gets confused if there are other lights nearby—including other Twinkly sets—and sometimes misinterprets reflections on the glass on a light bulb. The user interface for the mapping feature is similarly confusing. Be warned: The app will rotate and allow you to map your lights in landscape mode, but then it compresses them back into a confusingly squished portrait mode view. You can’t zoom in to get a closer look at the individual bulbs in a cluster of lights, either. But unless you’re very particular about some highly specified lighting animation plans that you’ve devised, you can still accomplish a lot with this. And even a pretty-good mapping is going to look cooler than anything you would achieve with an analog light display.

As with any new technology, the personalized customer service you get from a specialized retailer can save you from some serious headaches. Christmas Designers even has a dedicated team to walk you through any setup issues you might encounter. If you do end up purchasing through a big box store like Amazon, however, Twinkly does have a support section on their website as well. On the bright side, once your Twinklys are set up, you don’t have to do it again; Wirecutter product manager Samuel Roth has been using the same mapping setup for three years, despite some initial frustrations.

You can opt for static colors, animated color changes, and other effects, spread across a near-infinite array of options—Twinkly claims a total of 16 million color choices. Video: Michael Hession

You can opt for static colors, animated color changes, and other effects, spread across a near-infinite array of options—Twinkly claims a total of 16 million color choices. Video: Michael Hession

If you don’t want to deal with the mapping process, the default Twinkly lighting options are still robust enough that you likely won’t get bored. There are pre-programmed light animations that mimic falling snow, fireworks, sliding doors, spirals, and even crazy lines and snakes (a single off-color trail of lights moving through an otherwise solid-colored sea), and you can choose just about any color you can fathom—or at least any color you can pick out from the color wheel with a carefully pointed finger. Depending on the effect, you can also customize the speed and brightness of the movements or changing colors, and whether or not the lights stay lit, or pulsate, or flicker, et cetera. The app has a “store” where you can download new effects, too. Some of the effects even come with a music sync option that uses the built-in mic on your phone. (The company also sells a separate music dongle that lets you sync multiple strands together, using an algorithm that learns the rhythms of a song in real time; it’s imperfect and yet more impressive than it has any right to be, and probably unnecessary unless you’re really into serious multimedia displays.)

As far as color fidelity goes, the Twinkly lights are generally phenomenal. It’s hard to give specifics—we couldn’t test all 16 million color options—but the fact that you can select a custom shade and brilliance already sets them apart from other Christmas lights. Our only real complaint was the “pure” white, which is glaring at full brightness and sometimes flickered or buzzed when used in conjunction with certain effects (notably with the horizontal flag effect). Luckily, this is easy to avoid: Simply open the color selector in the app, pick a shade of yellow or blue (depending on your preference for warm or cool white), then drag the black-white slider down so it’s almost all the way to the white side of the spectrum, but not quite. (We actually appreciated the fact that we could create a custom warm white tone based on our personal preferences, too.)

Unlike most Christmas lights, the Twinkly lights can’t piggyback on one another to create longer strands. They’re also wired in a Y shape, with the plug extending from the center, with the lights split evenly to the left and right from there. This is different from what most people have come to expect with Christmas lights, and it might actually help them fit better on some houses. The only downside is that it’s harder to ball them up for storage without tangling the two arms together. But if you wrap the two ends separately—or just never take your Twinkly lights down—you should be fine.

Like with the mapping feature, the app in general could use a little UI improvement. The customization options aren’t always consistent; and whichever custom settings you save on your device aren’t accessible from, say, your spouse’s device, even if you log into both apps with the same account Both the app and the lights occasionally crash as well, though it’s not clear whether this is a RAM issue, a software bug, or just a result of an overeager Wirecutter tester deliberately trying to break something. Sometimes your Twinklys will even glitch rapidly back-and-forth between two different settings, which can be annoying, disconcerting, or worse, especially for people with photosensitive conditions or who are prone to seizures. This is a rare occurrence that only tends to happen when you’re messing around with the settings, and it’s easy to remedy by applying a new setting or simply resetting the lights. But it’s something to be aware of. Even with these glitches however, the Twinkly technology is still quite impressive and it’s likely to keep getting better with each successive firmware update. (The Twinklys are supposedly compatible with Alexa and Google Home as well, but the integration isn’t very reliable yet either. You’re better off just using a smart plug or the app’s own built-in scheduling function.)

The Twinkly lights are not only an excellent option for Christmas, but they’re a fantastic tool for lighting design overall. At around $125 for 250 lights, they may seem like a steep investment (the 400-count set is a better deal at around $175). But the technology will keep improving, and they also provide you with a year-round decoration that can be customized for any occasion, and still hold up against the rain, sleet, or snow. And that means you can impress the neighbors even more, without any additional setup or cleanup.

The competition

We previously recommended the GE Color Choice Multi or Warm White Multi Function LEDs as an also-great pick for people who want color-changing versatility. While they’re still a good option, they’re nothing compared with what Twinkly is offering. A small control box near the plug lets you choose between eight settings: white, multicolor, or both, in a variety of flashing and steady lighting options. However, the colors aren’t as good as what you get with a dedicated white or multicolor string light set; the white in particular is more neutral and bland than warm, and the green is somewhat limelike. And although the lights themselves are generally safe for outdoor use, the control box can malfunction in the wrong (read: wet) conditions. But, if you want the basic functionality of color-changing lights without spending $100-plus dollars, and don’t mind a few more compromises, the GE Color Choice lights are still a safe bet.

The Christmas Designers 5mm Wide Angle Conical LED Christmas Lights were our previous pick for outdoor lights. The colors were slightly less brilliant than those of the 5 mm wide-angle lights from Christmas Lights Etc in our tests, and the wiring is thicker, but they’re otherwise nearly identical. If the Christmas Lights Etc 5 mm wide-angle outdoor lights are unavailable, or you find the Christmas Designers lights at a better price, they’re a great alternative.

We also used to recommend the Christmas Designers Incandescent Christmas Lights. However, the company no longer carries a warm white incandescent option. If you’re looking for multicolor or solid-single-color incandescents, they’re still a great choice.

Christmas Lights Etc also makes a slightly larger version of its outdoor 5 mm wide-angle lights. In our tests, these were somewhat dimmer—the yellow and orange lights were a bit dull, and Bridget Collins, the lighting supervisor at the Huntington Theatre Company, described the white lights as “wimpy”—but they were otherwise comparable.

We tested several white and multicolor sets from Home Accents Holiday, which Home Depot carries exclusively. The incandescent lights were fine but ultimately failed our durability test, leaving a large chunk of the string unlit after we submerged them in water overnight. The standard Home Accents LED Lights produced a nauseating flicker, especially when they moved. The Home Accents Holiday Smooth Mini Super Bright Constant On lights, discontinued as of 2020, glared painfully. Overall, the construction and wiring on all of these lights was sloppy and shoddy, and they just looked bad.

What to look forward to

We’ll also be checking out the Target-exclusive Wondershop Warm White and Multicolor LED lights. Although we’re typically skeptical of those smaller in-house brands, the Wondershop lights are made by Philips, a company that’s earned its reputation.

How to light a tree

You can find varying opinions on how many lights to use for your tree. In our interview, GE’s John Strainic suggested 100 lights per vertical foot. But 100 lights per foot strikes us as a lot, and we imagine that the result would be a particularly festive tree.

The box that the tested Brite Star lights came in goes a little lower, giving a number of 600 lights for an 8-foot tree (or 75 per foot). And this lighting calculator from Christmas Light Source indicates that 250 to 400 mini lights will light an 8-foot tree.

You have a couple of different ways to apply lights, but one method in particular gets a lot of praise. It involves putting the lights on from bottom to top, doing so vertically, going in and out as you move up. This technique puts the lights deep in the tree and creates depth and a warm interior. You can find more information from Real Simple. (If that approach sounds too radical, you can just do it the traditional way by circling the tree, working from bottom to top.)

Sources

Sours: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-christmas-lights/
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Purple LED Christmas Lights

Purple LED Christmas lights infuse indoor and outdoor displays with a pop of color and work well in a variety of decorative applications. While this vivid violet hue looks amazing all on its own, purple is a color that's even better in pairs! For an incredibly elegant outdoor Christmas lights display, decorate with a mix of cool white and purple C9 LED lights across the roof and lining walkways or the driveway. Cool white and purple LED mini lights look beautiful wrapped around Christmas greenery and are a gorgeous addition to holiday displays that use silver ornaments, ribbons and flowers! Wrap outdoor trees with purple and green or orange lights to create an enchanted forest in October and bring the purple lights inside to illuminate spooky mantle decorations and set the mood for your Haunted House Halloween party. Not just for holidays, purple LED lights are a fun way to brighten birthday parties or special events, and they even make great patio lights for summer enjoyment!

Sours: https://www.christmaslightsetc.com/Purple-LED-Christmas-Lights-8585.htm
How To Hang Exterior Christmas Lights

Purple Christmas Lights

You might have noticed already that there are a variety of purple lights available in both incandescent and LED options. Deciding between these two light types often comes down to visual preference, budget, and the size of your display. LED lights allow for more strings to be plugged together on one power source, are incredibly durable and use significantly less energy, making them perfect for large scale and long term lighting displays. They are also available in a greater variety of bulb styles & sizes than incandescent versions, allowing for a wide range of decorative applications. There are a lot of benefits to selecting purple LED lights for your project, however with these benefits also comes a higher price tag than with incandescent versions and this greater initial investment may not make sense for certain types of displays. If you're only planning to use a few light strings periodically throughout the year or are on a budget, incandescent purple lights might be just what you need to get the job done. No matter which bulb type you choose, if you love purple, you have found your people! We have a large selection of purple bulbs, string lights and decorations available to make any design you can imagine a reality!

Sours: https://www.christmaslightsetc.com/Purple-Christmas-Lights-8030.htm

Christmas lights house purple on

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I Put 1,000,000 Christmas Lights On A House (World Record)

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Now discussing:

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