Christmas Lights Smackdown: Warm White LED vs White Incandescent

November 19, 2018

How do those warm white lights compare to my traditional C9’s?

Are those LED lights just as bright?

Here are a few photos to help you answer that question as you are finalizing your Christmas display plans!

First, take a look at this studio photo of a warm white C9 LED bulb and a traditional 7-watt incandescent C9 bulb so you’ll have a close-up idea of what these bulbs look like.

I’ve used an exposure that blasts the camera a bit but this is what my eye is seeing here in the dark. (Note, we aren’t using Pure White, it is equivalently bright as the warm white and has a pure, crystal color.  We’ll share a comparison of pure and warm in our next post.)

 

Here is a shot of 12 LED and 12 glass bulbs in a row. The LED bulbs on the left are SMD style.  Read more about SMD LED bulbs here.

What’s your favorite in this photo?

 

Here is a shot from the middle of the yard. Notice how the colors compare.

 

And from the yard next door….

 

Not the absolute best photo in the world below, but here is a shot from under a street lamp across the street.  You can really see the throw of the light. I can’t wait to get the rest of the house done.  Fingers crossed we finish before Thanksgiving.

We’ll be quite blinding no matter which bulb we choose!

 

Aside from appearance, there are a few pros and cons to consider when choosing between the bulbs.

C9 LED Bulbs

Pros

  • Durable Polycarbonate
  • Color goes through the entire lens (for non-white bulbs)
  • Up to 90% energy savings over traditional bulbs

Cons

  • Not the same bulbs we grew up with
  • Price
  • Susceptible to surges on electrical line (so use a surge protector)

Traditional Incandescent Bulbs

Pros

  • Great price point
  • Traditional King of Christmas light bulbs
  • Matches traditional mini lights

Cons

  • Breakable
  • Can require more electrical service

 

What is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

(And thanks to Dave for all the late night lights installation and reconfiguration!!)

Shellie Gardner
Aside from throwing dinner parties that feature at least two kinds of cheese dip, Shellie's passions include travel, Mid-Century Modern furnishings and finding the perfect street taco. Has been known to snort laugh champagne.

8 thoughts on “Christmas Lights Smackdown: Warm White LED vs White Incandescent”

  1. I completely understand this post! My wife is always annoyed by my constant critiquing of LED vs Incandescent. Nothing beats the warm glow and brightness of Incandescent Christmas Lights! I’ve been looking for years for a brand that matches because I would love to be able to run more lights on one circuit than what Incandescents allow, and also for more durable and longer lasting lights. But I will always take the look of the Incandescent vs the energy cost and durability of LED!

    1. 20 guage wire 25 ct c9 stingers are rated for only 2 strands, but 22 guage wire 25 ct c9 stingers can max out 51 sets!

  2. This is on point! I agree with and have been saying the same thing for years now. LED seems to be able to produce a variety of colors – EXCEPT the warmth of the old incandescent bulbs. What gives?! My wife says it’s my “old man gripe”, but I am at least glad to have been validated by your post – ha ha!

  3. Don’t forget about the refresh rate. LEDs can appear to be storobing on and off very quickly-especially the cheaper ones. I too am anxiously awaiting a suitable colored LED string light at the right price. I run about 10,000 lights so price is a factor.

  4. My dad and I always spent Thanksgiving weekend putting up the Christmas lights along the two-story roofline on our 1967 house – like everyone else in our neighborhood. C-9 Twinklers were extra special and we had red, cobalt, amber, gold, green, purple, pink and BROWN. I spent many years missing those beautiful lights until I found your AWESOME website! Now my girls and grandbaby and I spend Thanksgiving weekend making sweet memories and even creating a little neighborhood envy-

    1. Thanks, Karen, for your comment!! I’m so glad that you, your girls, and grandbaby are enjoying the lights that you remember! It is our great pleasure to have a role in that. Family traditions and time together is so much a part of Christmas! Y’all have a very Merry One!!!

  5. Great blog post. The descriptions and photos are invaluable. Thank you so much. As a guy with an eye for color, I’m still noticing white LED bulbs have a slight greenish case compared to traditional bulbs (not just Christmas lights). I appreciate that your photos show that difference. I’ve been seeing that greenish tint for many years now. I don’t understand why LED manufacturers aren’t addressing that difference. I assume they have plenty of people who can see that color difference too. Anyway, that color difference is one of the few remaining reasons holding me back from a making the LED switch. I really want to, but it’s too hard to give up that beautiful warm color of traditional bulbs. The same it true for multi-color strings too. I’m ready to make the switch, but I’m waiting LED bulb colors to more closely match the color hue and character of traditional bulbs. Thanks for the great blog post, a great web site, and great information! Keep it up!

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