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Holiday lights: LEDs go head-to-head with incandescent lamps

The turkey, cranberry sauce and green bean casserole are cleared from the table. Already the winter holiday season is in full swing, bringing with it holiday parties, guests and decorations.

Artificial light has a long history as a festive holiday decoration. From candles and incandescent lamps to LEDs, we look to lighting to give us a warm, nostalgic feeling at this time of year. 

We talked with Bryant Bilal, marketing manager with Eaton’s Lighting Division, about navigating a new-age question: with all of the lighting options available today, which one is the best choice for your holiday lighting? He shared three reasons why LEDs outperform incandescent lamps at the holidays.

LEDs can give you peace of mind 

Safety is a number one concern for the holidays. Traditional incandescent decorative bulbs may be common but are not the safest option for your home. Incandescent bulbs emit energy in the form of heat; to the touch, they can be too hot and cause burns or blisters. When wrapped around a tree, this heat can also be of concern and even start a fire.

“Growing up, we always had timers on our holiday lights,” Bilal said. “With LEDs, you don’t have to be concerned with your tree heating up and fires starting.” If you’re looking for a safer option, look no further than LEDs; they use less energy than incandescents and are cool to the touch, even after extended use. When using LED lights, you can relax and enjoy your glimmering decor.

LEDs can save you money

Pinching pennies around the holidays can be tricky. With gifts, parties and travel, a lot of us can be looking at our wallets with remorse. Your electricity bill can be an unsuspected culprit of over-spending this season due to skyrocketing energy consumption from incandescent lights. “One of the key benefits of LEDs is lower energy consumption,” Bilal said. “Because LEDs use less wattage, your power bill will be lower.” Even with added holiday elements like guests and decorations, LEDs can help keep your electricity bill low. “LEDs can give hosts extra peace of mind,” Bilal said.

LED technology is not only energy-efficient, it also has a longer service life. An incandescent lamp can have hundreds of hours of life before naturally self-destructing. Having to replace incandescent lights repeatedly every four to six years due to a short service life can be costly over time. Comparatively, LED lights can have up to 100,000 hours of life. The incredible service life of LEDs along with energy-efficient technology can help you save money and time this holiday season.

LEDs create a festive, holiday feel

Incandescent lighting is technically only available in one color, a white glow. To create a variety of tones, colored bulbs are used atop the bulb. This method is a great substitute but does not produce pure colors. Conversely, LED technology allows for colors to be generated on the color spectrum. “Similar to LED TVs, LED holiday lights can have colors that are much richer and darker to the human eye,” Bilal said. “We can technically engineer the colors to make them pop.” If you want your holiday display to emit vivid, lustrous light, consider using LEDs.

A number of other factors can help create a festive feel. Glow and tone are just two ways light can dramatically change the feeling of a space. How those variables create a holiday atmosphere may actually depend on your location. “Tone preference can depend by region,” Bilal said. “The north and northeast regions of the United States are used to snow bringing bright, blue tones. Chances are, your house is already pretty bright, so you may not want to add brighter, bluer light. Typically, you’ll want to add warmer, lighter tones.”

Time of day can be a big factor as well. Bright, cool light is typically utilized during the day to create productive work areas. “Most customers like to have warmer colors in the evening,” Bilal said. “Warmer colors can create a relaxing environment that encourages holiday guests to catch up.”

When planning a holiday party, consider how lighting can improve the overall look and feel of your atmosphere. Where design is a matter of preference, being able to control your LED lights is important. “With LEDs, you can have zones and set dimmers and controls depending on the application,” Bilal said. Lighting products that can be controlled from your phone, including color and dimming, can help you adapt to the changing season with grace.

Guests will generally move through different spaces during a holiday party. In the kitchen, you can utilize under-cabinet lighting to create ambiance. A small aperture setting in the dining room can highlight your main dish. Adjust the angle of optic fixtures to showcase a centerpiece or star decoration in the living room.

Decorating at the holidays is a personal decision. Considering traditions and familiar decorations can make switching from incandescents to LEDs difficult. But if you want superior color, energy efficiency and low heat emissions as you enjoy the holiday season, LEDs are the better choice.