Holiday Lighting 101: Understanding Different Types of Lights and Their Uses

Holiday Lighting 101: Understanding Different Types of Lights and Their Uses

November 06, 2023

When it comes to illuminating your home or business with Christmas lights, more options now are available than ever before. Advances in engineering and technology have led to the creation of all types of holiday lights and decorations for your property. The downside is that it can be difficult to keep track of all the different types of lights you might want to incorporate into your holiday decorating.

Luckily, the MosquitoNix® Elves, our team of professional holiday decorators, are well-versed in the wide variety of lighting types available. After all, they have decorated many homes and businesses for the holidays. If you need a holiday lighting guide to help you keep your options straight, check out the information below, courtesy of the Elves. They're happy to provide you with the basic holiday lighting knowledge you need to choose the right display for your space. Keep reading for a glossary of terms that would be particularly helpful for you to know as you plan your display.

Holiday Lighting Glossary

  • Icicle lights - Icicle lights are holiday light strings, but instead of the bulbs being placed in a straight line along the strings, they extend downward on strands that are usually 12 or 18 inches long. The result is a type of light that mimics the look of glistening icicles. Icicle lights are a popular choice to decorate rooflines, but many unique looks can be created with them. They are usually made with white lightbulbs, or sometimes blue, to give them an appropriately icy look.
  • Incandescent lights - Incandescent lights are illuminated by heated wire filaments that glow when hot. You can find these traditional-style lightbulbs in a wide variety of colors and shapes, including strings of white and multicolored holiday lights. Incandescent lights are known for their warm-toned glow that's reminiscent of the glow of candlelight.

  • LED lights - LED (or light-emitting diode) lights are lit in a different way than incandescent lights, using a newer form of technology. LED lightbulbs contain a microchip. When connected to a power source, a current passes through the chip, resulting in illumination. LEDs are generally cooler than incandescent lights, both in terms of tone and temperature. They can pose less of a fire hazard due to their lower operating temperature, and they also require much less power, so they can save you money on your electric bill. According to USA Today, an "elaborate" Christmas light display that uses incandescent lights can add $350 to your monthly electric bill. An elaborate display that uses LED lights adds only $47.
  • Net lights - Net Christmas lights are designed to make it easier for you to cover larger or irregularly shaped objects, especially bushes and shrubs. How do net lights work? They are made from electrical wires that are interwoven to form a net-like blanket of wires with bulbs attached to each one. You can arrange the net over the top of the bush or other objects. When you connect the net's electrical plug to a power source, all the bulbs should illuminate. This enables you to decorate greenery much faster than you could by light-wrapping it with standard lights, although some people prefer the more organic, less symmetrical look of the latter.
  • Permanent holiday lights - Permanent holiday lights are lights you can have installed on your home or business that, while not literally permanent, are designed to last for a number of years. They are installed via a track system, and the tracks help shield the bulbs from the elements. That way, lights do not have to be put up at the beginning of every holiday season and taken down at the end. While there is more of an upfront cost involved in installing permanent holiday lights than standard ones, many people prefer the convenience they offer.

  • String lights - This phrase generally refers to what most people think of when they think of holiday lights. They are also sometimes called fairy lights. String lights are incandescent or LED lightbulbs that are attached along the length of an electrical wire. When the wire is connected to a power source, the bulbs are illuminated. String lights can be designed for indoor use, outdoor use or both. If you are using them to decorate your Christmas tree, for example, you would want to use string lights suitable for indoor use. If you are decorating the exterior of your home, make sure the lights are approved for outdoor use.
  • White lights - This one might seem self-explanatory, but there are some factors to consider. White lights have clear glass or plastic bulbs so the light they emit appears to be white. In the context of holiday lights, the phrases "white lights" and "clear lights" refer to the same thing. White lights can have different tones of white: Warm white lights have a tone that's more like candlelight, while cool white lights will have a pure white or even blue undertone for an icier look. Incandescent white lights are generally warm-toned, while LED white lights are traditionally cooler in tone. However, more and more LED string light manufacturers are offering warmer-tone white lights as well.

Let Our Elves Help You Decorate This Year

We hope this guide is helpful for you the next time you're thinking about what you want your holiday light display to include. While you're in the planning stages, ask yourself questions like, do you want the traditional look of incandescent holiday lights, or the energy efficiency of LEDs? Might you prefer to install permanent holiday lights this year? Think about which options will work best for you.

If you want assistance with your holiday lighting project, our Elves can help. Text ELVES or call (855) 808-2847 to learn how they can assist with your home or commercial holiday lighting, and get a free quote.

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