Compare LED vs. Incandescent Christmas Lights

For conscious consumers with large Christmas displays, seeking environmentally conscious options is just as important as having a well-balanced and gorgeous presentation. The costs of replacing your Christmas lights can be daunting, even when it is just standard maintenance to replace broken bulbs, bad fuses, or damaged plugs or wiring. Regardless if you are upgrading your entire collection or replacing strings of lights a little at a time, choosing new Christmas lights can be confusing due to the vast array that is offered.

In the past, the only type of Christmas lights that were offered were incandescent lights, so it was only a matter of choosing length, color, and whether you wanted them to flash. These days there is another option that is making a lot of waves and becoming very popular-LED Christmas lights. We want to ensure that you are able to pick the best option for your household when looking at our wide variety of LED and incandescent Christmas lights and bulbs, so we are going to explain the difference the difference between our most popular options.

Let’s compare LED and incandescent Christmas lights to see which type is better for your home this holiday season.


Let’s start out with how bright each of these bulb types are, because there is an important difference and it can be incredibly confusing for anyone who is accustomed to reading and using incandescent lights. Most people who grew up with incandescent Christmas lights became familiar with checking light bulbs and Christmas lights for the amounts of watts to see how bright their bulb would be, but LED light bulbs do not use watts as their main measurement. Instead they use lumens.

Lumens (lm) measures the brightness of a bulb instead of the energy that it consumes and is what shoppers should look at when they are shopping. Manufacturers changed the way they measure their light bulbs brightness due to a common misconception about their products: that watt told you how bright the light bulb was. Wattage is actually a measurement of how much energy a bulb will draw. This was useful for incandescent lights as they had a direct correlation between the amount of energy they drew in watts and the level of brightness. This has changed in recent years and incandescent lights now use both watts and lumens to describe their product just as LED lights do.

An incandescent light of 100 watts is similar to an LED light of 1600 lumens, however; the LED light bulb will only draw 16-20 watts of energy from your home while the incandescent light bulb will draw 100 watts. This causes confusion when searching for Christmas lights because seeing such low wattage on LED lights makes it seem like a ridiculous choice for most buyers, when it is actually more effective.

Both incandescent light bulbs and LED light bulbs come in a variety of brightness levels, and are virtually the same except in how much energy they draw. Remembering that the wattage of an LED Christmas light is much different than an incandescent light will help consumers pick the right product for them.

Price Range

The price between incandescent light bulbs and LED light bulbs are also different. There is no way to get around the fact the LED lights are more expensive than traditional incandescent lights, however; bulb companies are closing the gap slowly due to the increased efficiency of LED lights. Some of the price range for common Christmas lights are:

  • A 25 count string of C9 LED lights will range between twenty to thirty dollars while the same amount for incandescent lights with cost between nine and eighteen dollars.
  • A set of 100 mini lights with cost between twelve and twenty-two dollars for LED Christmas lights and seven to fourteen dollars for incandescent lights.

Just as lower wattage light bulbs cost lest, so do LED lights that have lower lumens. Depending on your lighting needs, you may see a fluctuation of twenty to thirty dollars depending on brightness and quality for both products.

Energy Consumption

I mentioned previously that wattage refers to something drastically different depending on which product you are considering. C9 Incandescent Christmas bulbs will pull 7 watts of energy for the 7 lumens of light they put out, while C9 LED Christmas lights will draw .5 watts of energy for the same amount of lumens. Overall, in a period of 50,000 hours, a C9 LED Christmas light will use 25,000 KW of power in its lifetime while an C9 incandescent Christmas light will draw 350,000 KW of power as well as needing to be replaced over 116 times in that time period.

In short, LED Christmas lights use up to 71% less energy than comparable incandescent Christmas lights. The investment that you make when you originally purchase LED lights will return itself to your pocket as you save on your electric bill.

Life Span

The life span of these two products also shows a drastic and important difference. Most households are used to having to replace incandescent Christmas lights as they burn out; in fact, most strings of incandescent lights come with a few replacements for this eventuality. This is not the case for LED Christmas lights as their life spans are much longer than traditional lights. C9LED Christmas light bulbs projected life span is up to 50,000 hours, while incandescent Christmas lights are projected to work for up to 3,000 hours.

Environment Effects

Unfortunately, incandescent lights are not environmentally friendly for a number of reasons besides their high energy consumption. Incandescent light bulbs contain both mercury and lead in levels that exceed hazardous waste limits. These bulbs are not recyclable and dumping them into landfills releases their toxic properties into our environment. Households are supposed to dispose of these types of light bulbs according to hazardous waste regulations that are designed to keep them un-broken and out of landfills, however; this is not usually what occurs and an alarming amount of household’s dispose of their incandescent light bulbs in their trash.

LED light bulbs do not come with many of the concerns that incandescent light bulbs raise. Not only do they consume far less energy than their older counterparts, their chemical makeup does not include toxic chemicals. LED’s are also recyclable and are not considered to be hazardous waste, making it far easier to safely handle LED light bulbs when they burn out. Also, due to their long life span, they significantly cut down on packaging and delivering costs that are associated with the manufacturing of light bulbs.


Both of these products come in a variety of different colors, from one string with alternating colors to a strand of your favorite choice. While there are multiple shades of each color, one type that is commonly misunderstood is white as there are specifics for each different type. Incandescent Christmas lights come in a full solid white color or in clear, while LED Christmas lights come in warm white and cool white shades (which can completely change the overall tone of the room).

When LED lights first came out, they were primarily used to light rooms and offered a bright output for convenience. As the LED industry has grown, they have adjusted to the needs of consumers to accurately match the light tones that incandescent lights give off. These new adjustments come with new measurement called the Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) that allows users to compare the color of white versus yellow in LED lights to ensure you get the proper glow to your Christmas display.


Both types of Christmas lights come with a cover that is either faceted or smooth, based on your personal preference. LED Christmas lights are typically sealed into their sockets, while incandescent Christmas lights are removable. For those who do not want to replace their entire light set when you upgrade to LED, you are able to get a special Retrofitted LED bulb that will convert your current light set from incandescent.

Incandescent Christmas lights will only have one bulb contained in each covering while LED Christmas lights have a variety of choices. All small Christmas bulb styles such as mini-lights, 5MM, or conical types will the standard one bulb inside, however; high quality C7 and C9 bulbs have multiple LED lights in each Christmas bulb to maximize the brightness. C7 LED Christmas lights will often contain three bulbs, whereas C9 LED Christmas lights will contain 5 bulbs. The amount of bulbs in each light does vary depending on the specific product you are purchasing, so this is important to take note of to meet your brightness needs. The amount of LED bulbs that each individual light contains should be clearly marked in its description.

Both of these products can come in a variety of different shapes, from standard mini-lights to beautiful icicle bulbs.

Overall, LED Christmas lights are the better choice for the holidays even though they cost more money. The cost of these Christmas lights are going to pay for themselves within a few years of purchase as you pay less in energy costs as well as pay less for the cost of buying bulbs (users typically only have to replace LED Christmas lights once in their lifetime). The environmental benefits of using LED Christmas lights are enormous, keeping hazardous waste out of our landfills through recycling. With recent improvements in the quality and output of LED Christmas lights, users are able to easily match new light sets with their incandescent ones for the perfect glow and brightness. If you haven’t made the switch to LED Christmas lights due to concerns about cost or the type of light they omit, we hope that we were able to provide information that made this choice easier.