What is the Difference Between Half Wave and Full Wave LED Christmas Lights?

Full Wave LED Christmas Lights: A Quicker Flicker Can Make a Difference

When you’re shopping for LED Christmas lights, you should be aware of the difference between full wave lights and half wave lights.

All LED Christmas lights are either full wave or half wave, and we do offer both varieties in our online store. All of the professional/commercial grade lights we sell, for example, are full wave. And most of the retail grade LEDs we sell are half wave.

So what’s the difference?

A Simple Explanation

Without delving into a lot of high-tech engineering-speak, here’s the fundamental difference between half and full wave lights…

Neither half wave lights nor full wave lights are ‘on’ all the time. All LED lights are cycled on and off many times per second. It’s the way LED technology works, and it’s part of the reason that LEDs are so much more energy-efficient than old-fashioned incandescents.

But there are variations within LED technology that impact the frequency with which the bulbs cycle on and off. Those variations are referred to as either “half wave” or “full wave” design.

Half wave lights are designed to cycle on and off 60 times per second. And full wave lights cycle on and off twice as fast – 120 times per second.

Does It Matter?

OK – full wave lights are on twice as long per second as half wave lights. But does it matter? Should you be concerned about whether the lights you purchase are half wave or full wave?

The answer is – YES.

The cycle speed of full wave lights – 120 times per second – is undetectable to human eyes. You could focus on a full wave bulb with the greatest of concentration, just trying to detect the cycling of the bulb. But try as you might, you wouldn’t stand a chance. The cycle speed is just too fast to be noticeable to humans.

But the cycle speed of half wave lights – that’s a different story. The cycle speed of 60 times per second is noticeable, at least for many. And therein lies the potential problem.

Some people notice the cycling of half wave lights as a detectable flicker. Not everyone notices it, but for those who do it can be an annoying feature that detracts from their enjoyment of the lights. And some people have even reported developing headaches from the detectable flicker of half wave lights.

Which Should YOU Buy?

Our Professional Grade lights are full wave. And for most circumstances and for most budgets, Professional Grade lights represent the better choice.

Full wave lights are bright and flicker-free. And while full wave lights once used considerably more energy than half wave, improvements in technology have reduced that to a negligible difference.

But for very tight budgets, half wave lights (our Retail Grade lights), are still a viable option. Just be aware that there are very real differences between half wave lights and full wave lights that, for most people, make full wave the better choice.

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks so much for the explanation – seems I’ve figured out the difference in led lights (and prices) at long last. I bought a cheap set of fairy lights for my Christmas decorations last year and they were definitely flickering, just not in a good way!
    Becca.
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