What are the Best LED Christmas Lights to Use for My Christmas Lighting Project?

When it comes to LED Christmas Lights, the lens design options are impressive. But at the same time it’s confusing as to which design works best in various lighting applications. We receive a lot of calls and emails from customers that are overwhelmed by the number of options available for LED Christmas lights. It wasn’t that long ago that Christmas lights were broken down into two basic designs: The classic mini light and the larger C7 or C9 bulb light sets.

Now days there are a lot more options, which while it can be confusing, it also gives everyone a much broader range of options to help them create unique lighting projects for their homes or business. Let’s take a look at the most common LED Christmas light lens designs.

5mm Wide Angle Conical LED Christmas Lights

5 mm Wide Angle Conical LEDThe 5 mm Wide Angle Conical LED light set is the #1 LED set that we sell. While the actual bulb design is not as long as a traditional style Christmas light, but the illumination intensity and the overall look of the light set, once it is lit up, is nearly identical to the type of Christmas mini light that most of us have used for many years.

The Wide Angle Conical is especially suited for outdoor lighting applications where maximum intensity is needed. However, when used for indoor projects such as lighting Christmas trees, the brightness of the bulbs can be overwhelming.

 M5 LED Christmas Lights

 M5 LED Christmas LightsThe lens design of the M5 LED light set is nearly identical to that of traditional incandescent mini lights. The M5 is a popular choice for both indoor as well as outdoor lighting. The overall intensity is not as bright as the Wide Angle Conical, but it does provide a more balanced illumination. For this reason the M5 is a popular choice for interior artificial green lighting such as wreaths, trees and garlands.

 
C3 LED Christmas Lights

 C3 LED Christmas LightsC3 light sets are not nearly as common as their M5 and Conical counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a good choice for a wide variety of lighting applications. Here at Christmas Designers the C3 is one of our favorite style of lights to use when lighting artificial greens. We also often encourage our customers to use them for outdoor foliage lighting. Because it is not as popular as some of the other styles of lights, it gives people the chance to string up a unique style of lights that will set their lighting project apart from everyone else’s.

G12 LED Christmas Lights

G12 LED Christmas LightsG12s have been rapidly growing in popularity and are being used more and more for outdoor foliage lighting. The round LED lens offers a unique look that many people find appealing. The G12 also makes a good choice for interior artifical foliage lighting.

 

 

C6 LED Christmas Lights

C6 LED Christmas LightsC6 light sets have been around for a long time but did not enjoy wide spread usage until recently when the very low electrical draw of LEDs made these a popular style of lens design. The lens is too small to use for perimeter building lighting, but because C6s are larger than a traditional mini light, they are a great choice for scatter lighting in hedges and tree foliage. They also look great in artificial wreaths, trees and garlands.

 

C7 LED Christmas Lights

C7 LED Christmas LightsC7 light sets have been around for nearly 100 years. With the larger bulb design they are a popular choice for building perimeter lighting as well as scatter lighting throughout the foliage of trees. Traditionally, C7 bulbs would draw anywhere from 5 to 7 watts per bulbs, which required significant electrical infrastructure to support, especially for larger lighting projects. Now days, thanks to energy efficient LEDs, the electrical draw is a fraction of what it once was. C7 LED light sets are available in either a stringer style light set or as retrofit bulbs which can be used in any C7 light socket. For more information on the difference between the stringer set design and retrofit bulbs with empty socket light line, take a look at our blog posting comparing these two styles of light sets: Stringer Sets versus Empty Socket Light Line

C9 LED Christmas Lights

C9 LED Christmas LightsC9 light sets are often confused with C7s. Both have a similar lens design, but due to the larger size of the C9, it is the most popular choice for perimeter lighting and occasionally for scatter lighting large evergreen trees. Similarly to their C7 counterpart, C9s have traditionally used a lot of power. Anywhere from 7 to 10 watts was required to power an incandescent C9 bulb. When it comes to LEDs, both C7 and C9s require the same amount of power, which is significantly lower than standard incandescent bulbs. For this reason, we sell more C9s since they do have a larger lens which in turn increases visibility, especially when using retrofit bulbs, which tend to be brighter than C9 stringer sets.

Picking the best lens style for your own lighting project comes down to personal preference. If you want to go with the most popular style of lighting, then a 5 mm Wide Angle Conical is a great choice for foliage lighting and a C9 set is perfect for perimeter lighting. But if you prefer something a little different, then perhaps a C3 or C6 would give your project that unique look that shows everyone you prefer to mix things up a bit. Whether you’re the bold type or prefer to follow a more conservative path, ChristmasDesigners.com has the perfect light set for your Christmas lighting needs.

Comments

  1. Frank Reynolds says

    Very Helpful posting! Which style of LED Christmas light holds up the best for long term use?

  2. says

    I can’t choose. I want to use them all. I would like to put one set on my Christmas tree. The others sets will be used to light up our house during the night.

  3. Gordon A Bech says

    I want to make a marty fan , i a considering using 100 string of c6 led. Can you give me your opinion on what is the best led lights for the project. I need 30 strings of 100 count lights

  4. Jenny Clark says

    We want to drape them across a large fence for a wedding, just clear white lights. What is the best for this type of use? Also, what is the maximum strands you can connect to another without blowing them?

  5. Riz says

    Hey, are c6 the brightest, brighter then c7 and are they good quality set if lights to put them around tge house?

  6. jill says

    is there a difference in brightness between the c7 and c9 cool white led outdoor lights? i want to string the cone shaped with some falling snow tubes here and there. i think i need the cool white to match the falling snow. do you agree?
    thanks!!

    • says

      Generally the C9s are brighter, but it does depend on the manufacture. Some stringer sets are actually brighter on C7s because the diode is the same size for C7s and C9s, but on a C9 it has to light up a larger surface area, which causes the bulb to look dimmer. If you are buying stringer sets from us, then yes, the C9s are brighter. When you move up to the C9 LED retrofit (replaceable) bulbs, then the C9 has about the same illumination output, but because the lens is larger, it has better visibility.

      As far as the color of bulbs, yes, cool white or pure white is the way to go if you are using them with snow tubes. But be careful about the cool white. Some manufacturers have a lot of blue to their cool white. Today’s industry standards for pro level LED lighting is to have a very slight blue hue for cool white and no blue for pure white.

    • says

      As far as the brightest, it can vary. If you are looking for the brightest mini light style, then the 5mm Wide Angle Conical offer the highest intensity. These are good for foliage lighting. If you are looking to light up the roof line, then the C9s are going to be the brightest with the C9 LED retrofit bulbs being about 40% brighter than a C9 LED stringer set.

  7. Nick says

    I’m thinking about mixing c3 and c5 lights outdoors. Would this create a problem, would you recommend it or should I separate these lights putting one set on the tree indoors and hanging the other sets outside? Thanks.

    • says

      Mixing lights is something that we often recommend. It gives a nice contrasting look and if done right can really add to the look of your lighting project. Get creative and see what you can come up with!

  8. Cory says

    I just purchased a C9 LED light set and compared to my old C9 incandescent set they don’t even come close to the amount of light the incandescent set produced is this caused by a low quality brand or is this just the nature of LEDs? It looks like the LEDs are dim and dull and both are warm white lighting. Is there a brand that will compare to the incandescent lights?

    Thanks,

    • says

      Sorry to hear about your bad experience with C9 LEDs. The #1 rule when buying LEDs, Don’t Buy Retail Grade. Yes, we do sell Retail Grade in our own online store, but we work hard to convince customers to spend a little more and move up into the Pro Grade lights. As far as brands, all your top brands such as GE, Phillips, etc do not make good Christmas lights. This is why most of us that do professional installations insist on sets that are designed for commercial and high end residential applications, which none of the name brands offer. The general rule is that if it’s in a pretty box, don’t buy it. Real Pro light sets generally come in a simple poly bag. Professional don’t want to deal with a lot of boxes and trash on a job site, so they insist on minimal packing material.

      If you want the best illumination from a C9 LED, then you need to go with empty socket light line and C9 LED retrofit bulbs. Stick to one of the top manufacturers such as Minleon USA. You’ll spend more, but you will have the exact C9s that professional installers use on high end job sites.

  9. Nancy Bruneau says

    Help! Bought a string of C9 led’s last year and they were fine. Checked them this year and they worked. Installed them outside about two weeks ago (when weather was comfortable!) Connected them a couple of days ago and they DON’T WORK! I have double checked all the connections and they are fine; but my INSTALLED lights won’t light. Any suggestions, short of taking them down?

    • says

      Are these LEDs or incandescent? There can be a number of different causes for an outage. If you have multiple sets up, take an extension cord and try each set individually to see if it might just be the first set that is out.

  10. Tim says

    We bought 3 spools of c9 LED lights. Put them up first year and couple weeks later a mid section went out. Now second year using a full strand is out. We live in TN, so temps of 32 degrees no snow. Is LED not right for outdoor? We have had more trouble with these then any other type of bulb (such as icicle we used previously). Both brands that were available to us for LED C9 were GE and Holiday Time. Thanks.

    • says

      LEDs are ideal for outdoor lighting. Our own professional installation division installs about 60,000 sets per year and we have far fewer outages now days than we did back when we were using incandescent Christmas lights. With that being said, the #1 rule when buying LED Christmas lights is to never buy LED Christmas lights that come in a pretty box. If lights require a fancy package in order to sell, then they are geared towards the big box retail stores and are not suitable for long term outdoor use. Our lights come in simply poly bags. We don’t want to waste money on nice packaging, we want the money to go into creating the best light set on the market.

      As long as you stick with true professional or commercial grade LED products, then you’ll have LEDs that last for years. Also when it comes to C9 LEDs, we highly recommend empty socket light line and retrofit bulbs. Here’s one of our blog postings that will explain the difference between a LED stringer set and LED retrofit bulbs: http://www.christmasdesigners.com/blog/led-christmas-lights/comparing-c9-led-retrofit-bulbs-to-c9-led-stringer-christmas-lights/

  11. Steve Segadelli says

    I have had icicle lights hanging from my roof line for a few years and am tired of the hassle with strings of lights going out and just the hassle of putting them up. I’d like to upgrade to another type of string of lights. I’m thinking of putting small hooks in the facia board right under gutter so it’s easy to string them. I’d like have single bulbs instead of the icicle type. Cost isn’t a factor. What do you recommend for the very best string? What is the best way to hang them year in and year out with little hassle? I need approximately 120 ft. Appreciate your recommendation.

    Steve

    • says

      We recommend using empty socket light line and C9 LED retrofit bulbs. This is the same type of lighting that professional installers use. The light line can be cut to any length, the bulbs are very bright and all electronics are contained within the base of each bulb. This is a far better lighting system than using C9 LED stringer sets.

      As far as year after year installation, the easiest method is to install permanent light clip strips. These are 5′ white or brown strips that stay up year after year. You’ll still need to attach the clips for each holiday season, but it does cut the installation time by about 75%.

  12. les says

    I just installed 50ft c6 warm white bulbs along my rooftop but the output seems really dull. Not bright at all. I tried several extension cords (2 Noma made ones for outdoors and even tried my heavy duty grounded cord) thinking it was a power problem. Is this normal for c6 warm white bulbs to appear dim? Thanks

    • says

      No, C6s should be bright. Were the C6s Pro Grade/Commercial Grade? If they were Retail Grade from a big box store, then the illumination may not be as good as a professional level light set. Also be sure the power at the outlet is between 110v and 130v. Low voltage could also cause a problem with the illumination.

  13. susan says

    Hi- we are looking to put in M5 or G12 (or something else) for interior tree lighting (about a 9-10 foot tree). We have incandescent now and I’m nervous about changing to warm white LEDs for our interior tree for next year. Can you please recommend what works best for a warm glow on our Christmas tree? Thanks much!

  14. Terri says

    I am new to making metal lawn Christmas displays. I have recently completed three 5 foot Christmas trees and two 4 foot candy canes with holly in the centers. Now for the tough part, I am looking for faceted, LED mini lights to attach to the 1/4″ steel (powdercoated) frame. I have the clips, I just need the lights. The wire needs to be white, and the bulb colors interchangeable as to coincide with the design. HELP! I thought learning how to construct the frame would be the hard part. I’m just at my wits end trying to figure out how to find interchangeable colored LED mini lights on white wire. Any help will be appreciated.

    • says

      Hi Terri, yes it can be very challenging to use stringer light sets for metal lawn displays. This is why only use the C7 empty socket light line for these types of displays. With empty socket light line you can cut the cord to any length and screw whatever color of C7 bulbs you would like into the socket. The cord also comes in a variety of spacing, which gives you even greater flexibility when building displays.

  15. Luke says

    I am looking at getting icicle lights this year and thought I would match my existing outdoor conical lights. I see that you only carry M5 icicle lights. Is there a particular reason for this? Would conical be too bright in that concentration?

    • says

      Yes, M5s are the standard for professional grade icicle lights. Conicals are great when it comes to foliage lighting, but the illumination is more directional and don’t look as good in an icicle light application as the M5 bulbs.

  16. Jo says

    Hello, I have bought warm LED lights from Target, Home Depot and Lowes over the past few years for exterior use. All the lights have produced the same result; half or all the set blows mid-season and I buy about 200 sets for my shrubs and pine trees. By the end of the season, I am lucky if half of my lights are still working and I am VERY conservative in how many I connect, end to end. I have found the problem to always be the same thing — The leads that come out of the bulbs corrode and break off. I am done buying these lights that were supposed to “last for years and years”. I get nothing more than a season out of them and always end up taking them back. I assume the same problem holds true for the multi-colored LED’s too, as I wont buy them as I consider their light to be far too harsh to look at. Blue overpowers every color on the set.

    I am wanting to know if you have any true warm LED mini lights with a glass casing as opposed to the plastic as I am assuming your lights will hold up as they are commercial grade. I really dislike the plastic bulbs as they do not emit the light and glow that a glass bulb does. Do you have any these where a gold LED light is brought to a fine point , like the much-loved incandescent mini-lights and encased in a glass bulb? If you do, you have a new customer in me. To me, the plastic LED mini lights look too much like glow-in-the-dark sticks. They’re just not nearly as pretty as a soft glow from a glass bulb.

    • says

      Yes, we highly recommend staying away from big box retail store LED light sets. They typically will only last a season or two. As you said, the main reason is because of the corrosion within the socket. This is why we recommend the Pro Grade one piece light sets. They have a 3 season warranty and will typically last 6 to 8 seasons. These are the same sets we use for our own commercial and high end residential installations.

      As far as glass versus plastic, all LED Christmas lights are made with a plastic lens, however, if you go with the 5 mm Wide Angle Conical, you will not be able to tell that the lens is plastic. The illuminated effect is identical to a traditional incandescent mini light and the overall illumination is 20% brighter. Here is a link to these sets: http://store.christmasdesigners.com/LED-Christmas-Lights/5-mm-Wide-Angle-Conical/

  17. Jake says

    I was wondering what brand of LEDs U recommend and whether I should get c6, c7 or c9 lights for a tree outside my house? And that if it is better to buy a bunch of small strings instead of a really long one

    • says

      Most of the branded LED Christmas lights are retail grade and we typically recommend staying away from them. Find an online seller such as ChristmasDesigners.com, that sells to professional Christmas installers and stick with only Pro Grade light sets.

      The type of bulb will depend on the application. For perimeter house lighting and ground stake lighting, we recommend C9 empty socket light line with retrofit bulbs. For foliage lighting we recommend 5mm Wide Angle Conicals or M5s.

      When it comes to the length of the light set, we recommend 50 bulb or 70 bulb sets that are between 23′ and 25′ long. The shorter sets are easier to work with and less prone to outages. This is why pro installers very seldom use LED sets longer than 70 bulbs per set.

  18. Jason says

    I have slowly been replacing all of my lights with pro grade 5mm warm white LED strings. At this point I have the 5mm conical lights on all the bushes in my yard except for my 15-20 foot tall very round holly (it is more like a large ball than a tree). I know it will take a large number of lights to decorate this bush but I can’t decide what type to get. I don’t know if the 5mm conical bulbs are right for this large of a bush.

    Before I invest heavily in more lights, do you have a recommendation on a bulb size to use on a large holly bush? If you do not recommend 5mm conical, will your recommendation compliment the rest of the yard that is all warm white 5mm conical?

    • says

      Hi Jason, yes for this type of application, we do recommend the 5 mm Wide Angle Conical. It will take more sets, but you’ll be very happy with the look. For larger foliage such as your Holly, go with a 6″ spacing set rather than a 4″ spacing. You can use either the 50 light, 6″ or 100 light, 6″. This will save you a little money and the wider spacing looks very good on that type of application.

      • Jason says

        Thanks for the input. Any advice on how to estimate how many strands I would need for something like this large round holly?

  19. Amanda says

    Great article! I am shopping for new lights for my indoor christmas tree. The M5s look perfect but I am trying to decide between the 4 inch and 6 inch spacing between lights. I like to wrap the branches of my live tree.

    Previous years I used about 700 lights with 4 inch spacing to wrap the branches of skinny ~7 foot trees. I usually had just enough lights. This year’s tree is 1-2 feet taller and fuller/fatter. I am thinking of getting ~1000 lights and debating going with 6 inch spacing.

    Can you offer any insight or advice regarding light spacing and wrapping evergreen trees?

    Thank you!

    • says

      Hi Amanda, on indoor trees either 4″ or 6″ work well. But since you are dealing with a larger tree, I would consider going with the 6″ spacing for more coverage. On larger evergreen trees, it’s not necessary to have the closer spacing.