LED vs Traditional Christmas Tree Lights: Which Should You Choose?

When the festive season comes around, most of us have a choice between using LED Christmas tree lights or traditional, incandescent lights when decorating our Christmas tree. But do you know the differences between these two types of Christmas lights and which option is right for your home? 

In this guide, our Christmas elves will walk you through both LED and traditional Christmas lights to help you decide which one is best for adding some extra twinkle to your festive décor this winter.

Incandescent vs LED Christmas lights: Our verdict on which is better

Thanks to advances in lighting technologies in recent years, LED Christmas lights are now the best option by far. You can purchase LEDs that emit light with a golden tone, just like traditional incandescent bulbs, to achieve the cosy, warm glow we all love to see in a festive display. LED lights also use far less energy to generate the same amount of light, meaning you can save money and limit your carbon footprint without compromising on the aesthetics of your Christmas tree!

Traditional incandescent Christmas lights

Until relatively recently, incandescent lights made up the vast majority of indoor lights. This means that if you have any old Christmas lights lurking in your spare room or attic space, it's likely that they'll have incandescent bulbs. Whilst they served us well for close to 150 years, newer and more energy-efficient technologies have now taken the limelight (pun intended).

One of the main draws of incandescent lights has always been the soft, slightly warm glow of the light they produce when switched on. People loved how incandescent lightbulbs provided a more atmospheric and intimate effect when compared with the brighter, sometimes whiter light emitted by LEDs.

Despite the aesthetic appeal of incandescent lights, they do come laden with a number of drawbacks.

The drawbacks of incandescent Christmas lights

  • Due to how incandescent bulbs operate, if just one of the bulbs fails, you'll likely need to replace the whole strand of lights.
  • Incandescent lights generate heat when switched on, meaning they waste some of the energy they consume and pose a potential safety hazard when placed next to flammable objects.
  • Incandescent lights have a significantly shorter lifespan than LED bulbs due to how the internal components degrade over time.
  • You don't typically get incandescent lights in different colour temperatures, meaning you can't get a pure white light from your Christmas tree lights.
  • You'll need more lights to generate the same amount of illumination with incandescent Christmas lights compared with LED alternatives.

LED Christmas lights

Now, with advances in lighting technologies, the majority of the lightbulbs in our homes and offices are light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Even though they might be slightly more expensive to buy upfront, LED lights offer a whole range of benefits over traditional bulbs, both in terms of their energy efficiency and environmental impact.

Let's take a look at the pros of LED lights in more detail.

The 8 benefits of LED Christmas lights

  1. LEDs provide a greater light output

Thanks to the fact that LEDs are far more compact than incandescent bulbs, you can buy string lights with smaller bulbs to achieve a dainty, delicate effect on your tree. What's more, you can use fewer bulbs to produce the same light levels since the lumen output (the brightness) of LED bulbs is far higher than that of traditional lights.

  1. LEDs are a far more energy-efficient choice

LED Christmas lights use far less energy than traditional bulbs...about 75% less! In practice, this means you can enjoy the same light levels for less money on your electricity bills - perfect for saving money and living sustainably at Christmas!

  1. LEDs offer a better selection of colours

LED lights are available in a huge range of colours and colour temperatures (this is how warm or cool a white light appears to the naked eye), meaning you'll have far greater creative flexibility in how you decorate your tree by using LED Christmas lights! You can choose to go pretty with pink LED lights or keep things simple by creating a winter wonderland theme with white LED lights.

  1. LEDs are a more cost-effective option

While LED lights may be slightly more expensive upfront, you'll make your money back in no time, thanks to how much more energy-efficient they are. Also, LED tree lights are more durable than traditional incandescent lights, so they won't need to be replacing entire strand

  1. LED Christmas lighting is safer for children and pets

Even though LEDs do generate heat, clever internal heat-sink technologies mean that this doesn't end up making the diodes hot to the touch. If you know that younger children or pets will be in close proximity to your Christmas lighting, LEDs are a far safer option.

  1. LED lights are multipurpose!

Lots of LED Christmas lights can be colour-tuned from cool white to warmer white. This means that any LED lighting you purchase for Christmas can be repurposed throughout the year alongside home improvement or redecorating projects!

  1. LEDs work in cold weather

LED Christmas lights can work in freezing temperatures, unlike traditional light bulbs, which can crack if they get too cold. If you want to decorate your house for Christmas, make sure that you use LED Christmas lights or dedicated outdoor Christmas lights, so your decorations stay bright all through December.

  1. LED lights can be repaired with replacement bulbs

LED Christmas lights allow you to replace single bulbs as needed, unlike traditional strands, where you'll need to remove the whole strand and start over if one goes out.

Just like replacing a bad bulb on a conventional light strand, you should always turn off your plug before attempting to replace any LED bulbs. The only difference is that, since there are fewer bulbs per strand, there's a lower chance of overloading your power socket.

What types of LED Christmas lights are available?

Thanks to huge investments in the development of LED lighting, there is now a huge array of Christmas lighting options to choose from!

White LED lights

Bright white lights are perfect for anyone wanting to create a magical winter wonderland. The tiny, twinkling lights will look like falling snow, especially when paired with white Christmas baubles and wreaths on a snowy Christmas tree.

Childrens hands holding a coil of white LED Christmas lights producing a warm circular glow.

Colourful LED lights

If bright colours and retro charm are more your thing, go for colourful LED Christmas tree lights! Pair multicoloured string lights with a colourful Christmas tree for the ultimate maximalist effect.

Vibrant and multicoloured Christmas lights wrapped around a classic Christmas tree with other decorations like baubles and a toy Santa.

String lights

Every Christmas tree needs string lights to tie everything together. LED string lights are perfect for wrapping around your tree and won't create a fire hazard with any plastic or paper decorations.

Women’s hands holding a delicate bundle of white string lights in the centre of the image.

Neon-effect LED lights

LEDs can be used to replicate the effect of neon lights - perfect for retro Christmas decorations!

Cicular neon LED lights cascading downward ranging in size to form a Christmas tree

Net lights

Use a net of LED bulbs to create an impressive wall installation in your home without using too much electricity.

Vibrant strands of twinkling net lights, that range in colour from blue, red, green and yellow.


How does incandescent technology work?

The key component within an incandescent bulb is a tungsten filament that emits heat and light when an electrical current passes through it. These light bulbs use argon or nitrogen gas and a thin coating of tungsten oxide to prevent the delicate filament from burning up too quickly.

How do LEDs work?

LED light bulbs are straightforward and consist of two parts: a diode and a reflector. The diode, or semiconductor, is the LED light bulb's power source. Electrons generate energy when they move from one atom to another - the more energy they have, the more powerful the beam.

When electricity enters the LED, it excites electrons causing them to radiate energy in all directions. As a result, LEDs shine in much tighter beams that put out far more total lumens per bulb. The reflector acts as a mirror to direct light. A typical bulb will have eight sides, some of which are designed with tiny grooves to scatter the beam in different directions so it's not too concentrated.

How long do LEDs last?

Traditional light bulbs have a lifespan of about 1,000 hours, whilst LED bulbs can last for approximately 50,000 hours. For added peace of mind about the quality of your Christmas lights, ours come with a 1-year warranty. Due to this longevity, LEDs are used widely in ceiling lights and commercial track lighting systems worldwide.

How many decorations do I need for my Christmas tree?

The number of decorations and lights you'll need depends on the size of your tree and the decoration style you're trying to achieve. Use our Christmas tree decoration calculator to find out exactly how many lights and baubles you'll need to create your perfect tree!

Can you get outdoor lights for garden decorations?

Yes, LED lights are perfect for use outdoors. They are able to work effectively in cold temperatures meaning you can keep your home's exterior looking fabulously festive throughout the Christmas period. Explore our range of outdoor Christmas lights here.

Get your perfect tree lights from Christmas Tree World!

At Christmas Tree World, we want your Christmas tree lighting to be as magical as the holiday season itself! Browse our huge selection of Christmas tree lights to find the ones that are perfect for your home.

We have efficient, affordable Christmas lights in styles and colours to suit your personal preferences - contact our team for help and guidance on choosing the right ones for your tree. For further decorating inspiration, check out our blog. Here you'll find tips and tricks on how to put lights on your Christmas tree, how to save money at Christmas, and how to create your very own Christmas decorations, including fill your own bauble ideas!If you're still searching for your dream Christmas tree, take a look at our collection of artificial trees. We have realistic Christmas trees, snowy Christmas trees and more.