To make your Christmas decorating as easy as possible, here are all the different types of LED Christmas light strings currently available, along with a brief description and application ideas for each type.
LED Mini Light Strings: Also known as M5 LED lights, these emulate the look of incandescent mini lights. Most have faceted caps that disperse the light from the LED, though some newer LED mini lights look identical to their incandescent counterparts.
LED Wide Angle Mini Lights: Though these do not directly emulate the look of mini lights, they serve the same function. Wide angle LED lights (sometimes called “Polka Dot” lights) use a 5 mm concave lens to disperse light in a wide, circular pattern. See this graphic to better understand how Wide Angle lights work.
LED Commercial Light Sets: New this year, these special low-voltage light sets are meant for commercial applications. Also known by the brand name “Versaline,” these low-voltage lights use proprietary, daisy-chained controllers and connectors for amazing effects in large civic, business, and theme park displays.
LED C6 Light Strings: Sometimes called “strawberry” lights, these strings feature 3/4 inch diameter faceted bulbs permanently affixed to wire. Slightly larger and brighter than LED mini lights, C6 strings are popular for indoor applications including garlands and Christmas trees.
LED C7 Light Strings: These strings feature 7/8 inch diameter smooth or faceted bulbs permanently affixed to wire. Though typically used outdoors, they are sometimes seen indoors where they create a strong, richly-colored “pop.”
LED C9 Light Strings: These strings feature 1-1/8 inch diameter smooth or faceted bulbs permanently affixed to wire. Unlike C7 strings, these large, bright bulbs are visible from large distances and are almost exclusively used outdoors to line everything from rooftops to sidewalks.
LED G12 “Berry” Light Strings: These strings feature 12 mm (about 1/2 in.) diameter berry-shaped globes permanently affixed to wire. Their unique “berry” shape is sometimes preferred to the cone shape of C6 strings and makes them a popular choice for wreaths and garlands.
Programmable LED Light Strings: Not to be confused with commercial light sets, programmable LED light strings feature built-in, multi-function controllers and large lights in creative shapes like icicles and oversized C7 bulbs. The controllers on these lights are deceptively simple, with just a few buttons able to create a unique light show.
InvisiLite LED Light Strings: Great for centerpieces and small wreaths, these strings feature tiny LED bulbs set on bendable and formable wire that virtually disappears against a green background. The wire is slightly rigid, so it holds its shape and affixes well to any type of artificial greenery.
What is your choice for Christmas lights this year? Will you be using LED or sticking with old-fashioned incandescent? Let us know what you think in the comments, and be sure to share your project ideas on our Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest pages. We especially like to see your pictures!
Halloween is just around the corner, and if you’re looking to have the spookiest haunted house on the block, we’re here to help! You can take a look at our Halloween lights page and even our brand-new lighted Halloween decorations for some quick ideas, but to go all-out, you’ll need to check out our Christmas lights.
If you find yourself asking why anyone in their right mind would use Christmas lights anytime outside of well…Christmas, put the incredulous tone aside for a minute and consider this: Though typically associated with the winter holidays, Christmas lights have all kinds of other uses, from weddings to birthday parties, so why not Halloween?
Looking for inspiration? Try these creepy Halloween ideas for colored light strings and bulbs: Use purple lights to create an eerie glow reminiscent of the full moon in a cemetery, or use orange lights to emulate the smoky flicker of a candle. Don’t stop there! Green lights emit the sickly pallor of toxic sludge while red lights ooze the unmistakable curdle…I mean, color…of blood. Another idea for light strings is to fit medium base patio light stringers with antique light bulbs for an efficient and portable “Addams Family” vibe.
Keep in mind, however, the idea is to scare the neighbors, not yourself. To avoid those spine-chilling energy bills this fall, you can go green with LED wide-angle lights or LED M5 lights for your Halloween display. You can also save on energy bills with battery-operated lights. A string of battery-operated LED Christmas lights, for example, is an energy-saving (and much safer) alternative to candles in your Jack O’Lanterns.
Ah…summertime. Warm weather, pool parties, barbecues, and bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. Few things can turn a summer day into utter misery faster than a swarm of flying insects. You’ve tried greasy bug spray, citronella candles, Tiki torches, maybe even blowtorches. So we can imagine your surprise when you saw a yellow-colored “bug light bulb” at your local hardware store. Could it be true? Could screwing in a light bulb solve your bug problems for good?
To answer that question, let’s start by clearing up some myths about yellow incandescent bug lights and their energy-saving cousin, compact fluorescent bug lights. Bug lights do not kill bugs (you’ll need a bug zapper or Paraclipse fly trap for that), nor do bug lights repel bugs. Bug lights simply attract fewer bugs than other light bulbs. In short, a bug light will not magically solve your bug problem, but it will make you and your home less visible to most flying insects.
As discussed in a past article, light is divided into multiple wavelengths, measured in nanometers (nm), as you can see in the graph below. The human eye can only perceive a small band of wavelengths in the light spectrum, from about 390 to 750 nm. Insects perceive a similarly small band of the light spectrum, though their band of vision is shifted further to the “right” of the spectrum than ours. In fact, any wavelength higher than about 650 nm is virtually invisible to most flying insects.
Image courtesy of Chemistryland.com
So why are bug lights yellow? Wavelength and color temperature have an inverse relationship, which you can also see in the graph. As the wavelength of a light source decreases, its color temperature increases (as according to Wien’s displacement law). Low color temperatures are red-yellow and exhibit a long wavelength, while high color temperatures are blue-violet and exhibit a short wavelength. By coloring a bulb yellow, then, the manufacturer has decreased the color temperature and in doing so increased the wavelength into a spectrum unseen by insects.
That’s the science of how bug light lights work, but the larger question is whether they are effective. From personal experience, I can say yes, they are. However, bug lights are not a panacea for all your bug problems. This is for a couple reasons. One is that not all insects are the same; different bugs see slightly different wavelengths. Second, no light source is made up of one, pure wavelength. Even an apparently yellow light may exhibit some shorter (and bluer) wavelengths that insects may still see.
To get the most out of your bug light, remember this: The bugs aren’t there because they like the light; they’re there because they like the smaller (and tastier) bugs that buzz around the light. If these smaller bugs sense any light whatsoever, it won’t be long before they buzz their way to bask in it. And once the small bugs are there, it won’t be long before the bigger bugs follow. Once that happens, you have a bug party on your hands, light or no light. The best thing to do to avoid a swarm of bugs is to turn the light off when you don’t need it.
Most homeowners install landscape lighting for safety concerns. For example, we put PAR38 Halogens above our garages and entrances so we can see at night and detect intruders. Others may install inexpensive solar powered LED lights to line their sidewalks or flower beds. However, these applications fall far short of what is possible with landscape lighting.
During the day, your neighbors see everything touched by the sun, but at night, you’re given a blank canvas that you can “paint” with the right lighting design. When used thoughtfully, landscape lighting can have a transformative effect on your lawn, highlighting focal points and adding dimension to your yard.
To begin your project, decide between solar and low voltage landscape lighting. Line voltage landscape lighting is also available, but is only recommended for large commercial applications. Solar lighting is inexpensive, easy to install, and doesn’t use any electricity since it derives all its power from the photovoltaic panels on the fixture. However, solar lights are undependable. Solar landscape lights are dim and produce light for only a few hours. For this reason, 1000Bulbs.com doesn’t carry solar landscape lights, nor do we recommend them. Instead, we suggest low voltage landscape lights that operate at either 12 or 24 volts. When used with the right outdoor transformer, low voltage lights are safe, easy to install, and even easier to maintain.
Next, you have the choice of Halogen or LED landscape lights. Halogen landscape lights are the traditional type of landscape lighting. They are relatively inexpensive, yet they use a large amount of electricity. The advantage of LED is huge energy savings, though your up-front cost may be much more. A typical Halogen landscape bullet, for example, can use as much as 60 watts, but an LED of the same brightness will use only 10. LED lights will also last 50 times as long as Halogen; this means significant long-term savings and much less maintenance.
Now design your landscape lighting layout. On the typical home, you’ll need three types of lights: Pathway lights, bullet lights, and in-ground well lights. Pathway lights, as the name implies, go along pathways, including sidewalks and driveways. You can install bullet lights in the ground and pointed upward to highlight trees, bushes, statues, fountains, and building facades. You can also install bullet lights pointing downward from trees, which makes the tree look full and vibrant while casting a soft glow over your entire yard. Finally, you can use well lights in many of the same areas as bullet lights. Because they are buried, well lights are more concealed, making them perfect for spotlighting trees where there isn’t any other foliage around to hide a bullet light.
So have you installed or considered installing landscape lights at your home? If you’ve already installed them, what are your experiences? If you haven’t, what type of landscape lights most interest you? Drop us a line in the comments below, or give us a holler on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. You can even post your project photos on Pinterest!