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Thread: Are modern LED Christmas lights as bright as traditional mini lights?

  1. #1
    Unenlightened
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    Question Are modern LED Christmas lights as bright as traditional mini lights?

    I have a little project and the lower running temperature of LED lights would be a bonus over incandescent, but if the LED lights aren't bright enough it wouldn't be worth it. The lights will be going into a sealed decorative housing, in other words custom Christmas lights. The housings are kind of dark and so weak lamps would not work at all.

    Specifically I was looking at these: https://www.biglots.com/product/stay...787837&pos=1:5

    I can't seem to find actual output specs from GE on these, so CPF was the first place I thought would know! Any guesses? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Are modern LED Christmas lights as bright as traditional mini lights?

    If you need brightness, consider using multi-LED bulbs like these. They're more expensive but noticeable brighter than standard single-LED bulbs.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Are modern LED Christmas lights as bright as traditional mini lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotonWrangler View Post
    If you need brightness, consider using multi-LED bulbs like these. They're more expensive but noticeable brighter than standard single-LED bulbs.
    Those are C9's not mini-lights.



    To the original post I would say yes, they are as bright as traditional mini lights, and the colored ones probably brighter in most cases. I saw the odd filtered white versions last year that may provide a more traditional look, but overall, don't expect similar colors to mini lights. Most of them have pretty horrendous flicker, which could be accentuated by a glass decorative housing if the glass is not smooth.

    I have found it hard to find purely indoor sets so the cords tend to be rather large ... If you are going white, you may be better off with some of the low voltage LEDs you can find at Ikea and other places so have very little in the way of cords.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Are modern LED Christmas lights as bright as traditional mini lights?

    Going on a decade ago I bought some screw-in replacement bulbs E12 and E17 base, end-of-season when they
    were marked down (being a bit pricey). Intent was using them for low-level light sources such as night-lights.
    They typically have 2-3 LEDs each compared to one for series AC strings. Light output is somewhat higher but not
    in proportion to the extra power used, as each bulb has to drop 115vac to some low voltage for the LEDs, with
    series resistor I suspect which is not very efficient.

    You might have to buy a small quantity and try them out. You normally don't see meaningful output
    specs for these kind of lights.

    Heat buildup in enclosed area might be a concern with larger number of 115vac bulbs dissipating ~1W
    each, whereas I have small strings of 25-35 LEDs which consume about the same as one 115v bulb.

    You might consider full-wave rectifying an ac string which increases brightness and reduces flicker,
    but should be done with care.

    Alternatively you might find a low-voltage string where brightness is acceptable, or could be increased
    which would require rework; but might give acceptable life although higher current/power will shorten life
    (depending how far you go).

    I've been playing with battery-powered cheap LED strings which seem plenty bright for me as night-lights,
    but not all applications. I really like the purity of colours, although a bothersome trend recently is
    to use all white LEDs with coloured shells, some of which look anywhere from so-so to rather horrible, especially
    reds.

    Dave
    Last edited by Dave_H; 11-18-2018 at 12:59 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Are modern LED Christmas lights as bright as traditional mini lights?

    I have been impressed with the brightness of some very cheap battery operated LED strings. Intended to operate from 3 AA cells, but easily line powered by a small wall wart. In place of the intended 3 AA cells, use a 5 volt DC power supply and a small silicon power diode in series, this will drop about 0.7 volts and supply about 4.3 volts, about what 3 alkaline cells will give.
    For 25 LEDs the total power is less than one watt.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Are modern LED Christmas lights as bright as traditional mini lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by marklein2 View Post
    I have a little project and the lower running temperature of LED lights would be a bonus over incandescent, but if the LED lights aren't bright enough it wouldn't be worth it. The lights will be going into a sealed decorative housing, in other words custom Christmas lights. The housings are kind of dark and so weak lamps would not work at all.
    You could look at AC-powered strings with bare LEDs (shape of small pencil erasers) which may
    be a bit brighter due to lack of coloured plastic bulbs around them.

    Many stores have live displays of their lights these days. If not, I have carefully opened the
    box, found an outlet, and plugged in the lights to check appearance (also that they are working, though
    DOA strings are rare).

    Another possibility are these ornaments consisting of plastic frame in the shape of Santa, wreath,
    candle etc, strung with LEDs. I find them a bit brighter than usual, may be my perception. The
    lights can be popped out of their holders easily, leaving the string. Colour selection is limited,
    usually some combo of red, green and white. Bulbs are typically socketed; I've rearranged bulbs to get
    one colour in a string. Around here they are typically $10 each, find them cheaper at end of season
    or in 2nd-hand stores. Power consumption is usually a couple of watts, OK for closed spaces.

    Dave

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    Default Re: Are modern LED Christmas lights as bright as traditional mini lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by broadgage View Post
    I have been impressed with the brightness of some very cheap battery operated LED strings. Intended to operate from 3 AA cells, but easily line powered by a small wall wart. In place of the intended 3 AA cells, use a 5 volt DC power supply and a small silicon power diode in series, this will drop about 0.7 volts and supply about 4.3 volts, about what 3 alkaline cells will give.
    For 25 LEDs the total power is less than one watt.
    Lowest cost LED strings in Canada are from "dollar" stores where actual base price is $1.25. They are
    typically 10 LEDs running from 2 AA, 1/4W resistor current limiter.

    Some slightly higher priced up to $3-$4 have 20-30 LEDs, some with timer, running from 2 or 3 AAs. Brightness is
    surprisingly good on some (especially orange I find) which might lend them to decorative projects, beyond
    just stringing them up, maybe what the OP is planning.

    Speaking of such projects, I replaced some white LEDs in a translucent plastic solar planter, with
    a string of green LEDs; real green, not the anemic white with green filter. It now glows outside a
    really nice emerald colour, summer and winter. Once water leaked in and froze, but the LEDs still worked,
    eerie glow from inside an inch of ice. After thawing they continued to work.

    Dave

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Are modern LED Christmas lights as bright as traditional mini lights?

    If you visit your local Target, they'll have an extensive wall display of all their Christmas lights, LED alongside incandescent; you'll see right away that comparable size "bulbs"/formats have essentially identical output, though the LED colors are more vibrant.

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    Default Re: Are modern LED Christmas lights as bright as traditional mini lights?

    I saw an LED RGB tape light at the "blue" hardware store's Christmas lights area that was downright blinding. Partially because they're point sources with no lenses on them to diffuse the light, but it still stabs your eyeballs.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Are modern LED Christmas lights as bright as traditional mini lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotonWrangler View Post
    I saw an LED RGB tape light at the "blue" hardware store's Christmas lights area that was downright blinding. Partially because they're point sources with no lenses on them to diffuse the light, but it still stabs your eyeballs.
    Yeah, the neighbors across the street put tape light around their trees this year, looks like lit strips of power LED lighting versus regular Christmas lights, a bit silly..

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Are modern LED Christmas lights as bright as traditional mini lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotonWrangler View Post
    I saw an LED RGB tape light at the "blue" hardware store's Christmas lights area that was downright blinding. Partially because they're point sources with no lenses on them to diffuse the light, but it still stabs your eyeballs.
    That's another idea which might help the OP's project...LED strips. Some may be bright enough, though usually a fair bit more
    expensive than strings of regular LED lights. Fancy ones come with multi-colour i.e. RGB, some with remote controls.
    However, strips are one-sided which needs to be considered. Just throwing out more options.

    As for bright blue LEDs I agree...they seem especially irritating if too bright and not diffused. I mostly avoid blue, except
    there are whitish blues, or aqua, which is more pleasant. Plenty of other nice colours out there.

    Dave
    Last edited by Dave_H; 12-16-2018 at 09:51 AM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Are modern LED Christmas lights as bright as traditional mini lights?

    Yes, especially addressable RGB LED strips. They're fairly simple to control with any number of commercially available controllers or a $10.00 arduino.

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