Calling all festive illumination fanatics--which lights should I buy?
November 25, 2014 2:02 PM   Subscribe

After lots of burnt out strings and fadded bulbs last year, the time has come to replace the Christmas lights for my tree; which ones should I buy? I am CRAZY about lights. It's my family's tradition to put so many on, the tree glows like a small star. Think 4000 bulbs on a 5 1/2' tree. This is serious business. Requirements inside.

Small, multicolor bulbs with bright, rich colors!
50 or 100 bulb strings with plugs on both ends
High enough quality they'll last a few years
Preferably ordered online with reasonable shipping or available in person in San Francisco/Oakland.
I'd might be willing to go LED, but all the ones I've seen look dull, dim, and sad.
posted by mostlymartha to Shopping (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
4000 incandescent mini-bulbs on a single circuit is likely to blow your circuit breaker (or worse, start a fire), with power utilization hitting up against that of a standard 15 amp household circuit. That kind of lighting falls into "you probably should have at least a dedicated 20 amp circuit for that" territory if you really meant 4000 incandescent bulbs and not 400.

We have LED bulbs on our tree, and they're far, far brighter than any incandescent bulbs I've seen or used before. I can't recommend them enough. You won't have to worry about blowing your circuit, as the LEDs use far less power - which also means you won't be paying nearly as much for power on your next bill. I actually suspect you'll find you can much more easily light your tree to supernova levels with LEDs rather than incandescents.

Last year, the Colma Target had a display up that had demonstration strands of all of the christmas lights they sold plugged in and operating so you could make an informed decision. They also had great prices on Philips LEDs, which I've purchased and been impressed by. I'll bet that's true of the other Bay Area Target stores - if you're not sure about the LEDs vs standard bulbs, Target post-Thanksgiving might be the best stop to check them out.
posted by eschatfische at 2:17 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

The LEDs I've seen are lovely and bright. And the power saving is fantastic. I only have four strings, and when I switched from the old bulbs I've had for 30 years to LEDs, it made a big difference.

Check out online.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:10 PM on November 25, 2014

I returned several boxes of white LED strings to Costco last year after discovering that the light was quite cold and hard, not like the lovely glow of the incandescents. This was particularly noticeable in the dark.
posted by Dragonness at 10:37 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Definitely mix incandescent and LED bulbs together on the get a much richer variety of color that way, and LED mini-lights have come a long way in terms of brightness lately.
PRO TIP: buy 2 aluminum reflector clip lights (available at Home Depot ~$8 ea) and 2 color changing full-size LED bulbs (like normal light-bulb size...look in the colored/novelty light bulb section...I got one for around $5), put the clip lights behind the tree on either side pointing up at it, so you get waves of different colors from both sides. ADD TINSEL!!
More color? More light? Get Day-glo paints and paint all the ornaments. Add another clip light with a black-light bulb and illuminate the tree from the front (you can hide the clip-light itself behind presents or something...and use flourescent wrapping paper/bows/ribbon/etc. flourescent streamers on the tree would also be rad!) those compact flourescent bulbs also come in blacklight and work much better than the incandescent ones (also Home Depot $5)
posted by sexyrobot at 10:40 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also, if color is your deal, go to Michael's arts and crafts store...they have multicolor tinsel :° oooo, pretty.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:08 PM on November 28, 2014

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