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     So this time of year we see leftover flags from Labor Day right next to the ghouls and goblins for Halloween and...... Oh, wait..... Christmas Lights??? That is our common reaction to the commercialization of one of our most cherished holidays. So we are here to give you some guidance when it is actually Christmas time and you have a decision to make in regards to lighting your own home. I have been installing " Holiday "lights since 2009. I have went through the learning curve of incandescent bulbs to store bought LED's(which are not the life saver you may think), to finally beginning to install full on commercial grade lights.
      Incandescent lights have the best look in my opinion hands down. The brightness of the bulbs is almost unbeatable. They could be cut to fit your roofline making for a cleaner install. However the downfalls of the old lights we all used to install are tremendous. They will make your electric meter turns more circles than an acrobat. They do not last either due to burnout or having the fragility of a fresh egg. The chance of blowing a breaker is almost 100%. 
     Now on to store bought LED's. When these first came out I was certain that absolute bliss would overcome me during the lighting season. This came to pass from the first time I installed them. The switch brought along with it less electrical draw which allowed for more lights on one breaker, a few new color variations which allowed for different looks and......... that's about all the good there is. With the change also came the use of 3 wire setups like mini lights have always had. This prevents us from being able to cut a set of lights to fit each home and often times we have an overrun that has to be taped and hidden. You cannot buy replacement bulbs for this type of light and are almost always limited to the 2 extra bulbs they give you when you purchase them or having to buy another strand / roll of lights just to have extra bulbs. Also when buying from a store you often times have different spacing from brand to brand and almost always a different tone even in a simple color like white. Now there are a few options in white when it comes to LED lights but they almost never match from brand to brand. They also change every season even when buying the same brand at the same store. When this happens you either have to buy a completely new setup or have lights that while the same color are not the same tone. You also have less color / pattern options with store bought lights.
     Now on to the good stuff. Commercial grade LED's that are termed retro fit. These bulbs have a traditional bulb base while the light itself is LED. Commerical grade LED's have 5 diode's whereas most store bought bulbs on have 1. What this means is they have 5 lights inside them making them 5 times brighter than store bought. These lights are able to be custom fit to your home with a color scheme / pattern of your choosing. All the benefits of both incandescent and store bought LED's come together in a retrofit LED bulb. We are fully capable of running up to 3750 c-9 lights on 1 single outlet. They are energy efficient. They do not run hot. They almost always match up( only time I have had any disparity in colors is if I had to use 2 different distributors for one job). The downfall with these is the cost. They are more of an investment than a purchase. They will pay for themselves in the long run through the longevity of the bulbs and the low power usage.
     Finally my advice to homeowners is this. Go commercial pay a professional and have your home be the sight you would like it to be. I hear too many stories every season of a homeowner being injured, a home burning down, or the lights just not working due to an incorrect install. We work in crews for a reason. We had to learn our craft. Lighting a home all by yourself isn't an easy task. And remember this the first year you pay for LED's and the installer will be the only year you have to pay for both unless you decide to change your colors. Also never ever ever ever pay an installer his complete fee. Your materials should be paid in full but never the labor. There is always the risk of him never coming back to remove them. I pick up a couple new clients every year because of this. Unfortunately they still have to pay me an additional fee to remove what has already been paid for.

 
Below are some pictures of a few of the bulb colors we offer and we have more to choose from. These are the most common choices. We also have 3 different bulb types which are faceted, opaque, and smooth.At the bottom of the page you will find a side by side comparison of the 3 different types of bulbs i discussed in this advice section. The first house will be incandescent. The 2nd  is done with storebought lights. The 3rd shows the brightness of commercial grade lights as well as the spacing in the bulbs.This will show how much straighter and defined they will be. Disclaimer: The first picture was taken in 2009 and the quality of my camera phone was not as good as the following examples.
 
These are faceted style c9 bulbs
These are faceted style c9 bulbs
In faceted bulbs there are 3 different colors of white. From right to left are warm white, cool white, and champagne
In faceted bulbs there are 3 different colors of white. From right to left are warm white, cool white, and champagne
Smooth style bulbs reminiscant of the old clear style lights. available in a wide variety of colors
Smooth style bulbs reminiscant of the old clear style lights. available in a wide variety of colors
opaque or "painted" style led bulbs. They look like glass but trust me they are not
opaque or "painted" style led bulbs. They look like glass but trust me they are not
Incandescent lights
Incandescent lights
store bought led's
store bought led's
full commercial
full commercial
store bought muliti colors with 6 in spacing
store bought muliti colors with 6 in spacing
notice the lines that can't be hidden between peaks?
Same house with commercial grade custom fit multi color strands-its not even dark in the picture and look at the difference
Same house with commercial grade custom fit multi color strands-its not even dark in the picture and look at the difference
Finally in the dark with custom fit commercial grade lights
Finally in the dark with custom fit commercial grade lights
This house had some problems with their store bought lights and had to add in some commercial grade c9's. Can you spot the difference?
This house had some problems with their store bought lights and had to add in some commercial grade c9's. Can you spot the difference?
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