I’m upgrading to C9 LED lights, how do I choose?

July 31, 2014

 Marcia from Ohio asks:

I am looking to purchase C9 LED lights for my house to replace icicle lights that are too much maintenance. I want clear white (not the blue tint) with white wire to line the front of my house. Is it better to get 25 or 50 ft lengths? How many can be plugged together and what product numbers should I look up. It becomes overwhelming with all the choices.

That’s a good question. Here was our answer:

You have two main choices when designing your Christmas lights display with LED C9 lighting.

Each way has it’s pros and cons.  (As I start this response, I realize this would make a great topic for a helpful video… thank you for your question!)

The color of white bulb you are interested in is “Warm White”.  Our bulbs are actually “Sun Warm White” which is one shade warmer than a more neutral yellow-white. It’s the most “warm” you can get in the industry at this time.

It’s better not to mix bulbs from different suppliers and keep in mind that LED bulbs will change color as they burn in so if you order a few extra they won’t be the EXACT same color as bulbs that have been through a season but more than likely if you were to look at them, only you would be able to tell – if at all.  (I hope that makes sense.)

Here are those two approaches:

1.  LED Bulbs and Cords – purchased separately

Take a look at the cords:  C9 Cords

To clarify one of the specifications, SPT-1 is for normal use, SPT-2 has thicker insulation and is targeted for retail/commercial customers.

Get the length of cord that works best for your project.  The 25 foot cords are a smaller gauge wiring so if possible, stick with 50 and 100 footers depending on how much coverage you need. The 50 and 100-foot cords come with a single male plug and most people run them like “T” from an extension cord with a splitter.

Don’t run more than 250 feet of the 50 or 100 foot 18 AWG wire in a single run – even if you use LED bulbs. That’s the maximum light line length.

Note, the standard spacing on the 25, 50 and 100-foot cords is 12 inches.  If you want closer or wider spacing, you’ll have to purchase and cut to fit one of our 1000-foot spools.

Bulbs:  C9 LED Bulbs

You can choose between faceted, opaque and smooth.  Unless you plan to animate your lights, you won’t need to choose dimmable.  These bulbs have 5 LEDs to the bulb.

Purchase a plug to terminate the end of the cord if you cut it to fit.

See a white gilbert plug here.

Advantages of this setup with separate bulbs and cords:

  • Slightly brighter bulbs
  • Ability to customize lengths to your home
  • If a squirrel eats your cord, it can be repaired by an electrician or replaced and the bulbs can be moved to the new cord
  • You can use your own C9 cord if you have them
  • You can alternate and change colors of bulbs – possibly providing decorating options for future evens and Holidays other than Christmas
  • You can use any of the installation hardware tailored for C7 or C9 stringer wire (https://www.christmas-light-source.com/Christmas-Light-Clips-and-Hooks_c_128.html)

Things to consider:

  • You have to mess with installing a plug if you cut the end.  (Not much trouble, you just lay the cord in the top of the gilbert plug and slide the top shut – instant installation.)
  • Maximum of 250 feet of 18 AWG wire in any one run
  • 50 and 100-ft cords come with just one plug – so if you want to run them end to end you’ll have to have a female plug installed on the end of your cord. Tthis is standard since these cords were originally developed for incandescent bulbs and the industry wanted to discourage long runs of bulbs that would exceed the specifications of the cord).

2.  Pre-wired Sets

Here is our pre-wired C9 warm white LED Christmas light string with unibody construction:

https://www.christmas-light-source.com/c9-warm-white-led-christmas-lights

(These should be back in stock within a couple of weeks or so.)

Advantages:

  • You can run 87 sets of these lights end to end – that’s over 2100 feet – in a single series run (and plug them into one outlet)
  • Easier installation since you don’t have to run many extension cords – if any
  • More water resistance due to sealed construction
  • More economical per LED
  • Tighter 8 inch spacing
  • Perfect for applications where you are going to run a LOT of lights
  • Can be used with animation

Things to consider:

Keep in mind that LED light bulbs used to outline a roofline do not have exactly the same look as traditional C9 incandescent bulbs and cords but have a look all their own.

Let me know if you have any questions.  I hope my response made things more clear for you.

(It is a complicated topic.)

Be sure to consult with a master electrician on any project where cords are modified or your have questions about maximum run length or your home’s electrical service.

Have a good week.

 

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