Your Guide to Christmas Lights, Part II

If you read Your Guide to Christmas String Lights, Part I, welcome back!  If you are joining us for the first time, then we are glad you are here.  In this guide we are exploring the different types of string lights and Christmas lights available for your holiday decorating.  In Part I, we talked about the different bulb shapes available for string lights.  In Part II, we will be looking at the other features of string lights to assist you in your selection of holiday lights.

String Light Bulb Types: The two most common types of light bulbs used with string lights are incandescent and LED lights.  While incandescent bulbs have been the industry standard, recent advances in technology have made LED lights a desirable alternative.  LED bulbs are considered safer, since they do not become hot to the touch.  LEDs also use a fraction of the electricity compared to incandescent bulbs, and with the longer life of the LED light bulb, they may be more convenient and ultimately less expensive to operate.

Incandescent Globe Lights

String Light Bulb Colors: Christmas lights come in a wide variety of colors and finishes (although red LED lights are still a favorite).  Generally speaking, light string bulbs are either transparent (ranging from clear to colored transparent) or solid (from opaque/pearl to a solid color).  Some transparent bulbs are multi-colored (or multi-toned), and string lights come with either multiple colored bulbs, or all one solid color per string of lights.  LED technology has also created bulbs that can change color within a clear or opaque bulb, giving them greater versatility for use.  White LED lights are often categorized as either “warm” with more of a yellow tint, or “cool” with more of a blue tint.  

Whatever the color bulb, LEDs are usually the lights of choice for tree lighting and Christmas displays due to their added safety benefits.

LED Polka Dot Lights

String Light Bulb Textures: While most light bulbs have a smooth glass surface, there are other textures of bulbs that can add a twist to the way the light is emitted.  Sugar-coated bulbs, for instance, have a rough exterior (similar to being coated in sugar) that will soften the light to a lower glow.  Ice lights have a patterned texture to give the illusion of glistening ice, and diamond cut and strawberry bulbs are similar, but with a different texture patterns.

Sugar Coated Lights

String Light WiresMost string light wires will come in one of four color selections: white, green, brown, or black.  In some cases, the lights may be affixed to a flexible metallic wire, as is the case with some Fairy Lights.   Christmas string lights are almost always either powered by a battery pack, or require electrical plug-in.

It is a good idea to make note of the surface area you wish to cover with lights before you make your purchase so you can be sure to buy the right amount of string lights.  We recommend ordering your lights online so that you don’t have to worry about the limited inventory you may find in stores.  The package or description of the lights should specify both the number of lights on the wire, and length of the wire.  The product description will also specify if the lights are for indoor or outdoor use, or both.  It is not recommended to use indoor string lights outdoors, but outdoor string lights for indoor use is usually not an issue.

String Light Settings and Functions: While most string lights offer a steady lighted function, many lights also come with multiple settings and functions that allow you to customize and change the light patterns (like twinkling or flashing LED lights) .  

For a demonstration of the most popular settings, watch this video:

Parts I and II of Your Guide to Christmas String Lights cover most of the basic types of string lights, we will be listing other unique types of holiday lights in a future post.  If you have found these Guides to Christmas Lights helpful, please feel free to share them with others.  We’d also love to hear about how you decorate with your string lights and any tips you might have to share in the comments below.

Queue up the Christmas music and Merry Christmas Decorating!