Ultimate Guide to Types of Christmas Lights


Are you ready to brighten your holiday season with a dazzling array of Christmas lights? The right festive lighting can transform your home into a winter wonderland, but with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Fear not! This ultimate guide will walk you through the various types of Christmas lights, their power options, the differences between LED and incandescent lights, popular styles, bulb sizes, colour options, and specialty lights.

various types of Christmas lights on a house

Plus, we’ll provide essential tips for a safe and efficient Christmas light display. Let’s get started and make your home sparkle this holiday season!

Key Takeaways

  • Understand power options and compare LED vs. incandescent lights for holiday decorating
  • Choose from a variety of styles, sizes, and colors to create the perfect display
  • Follow safety tips for efficient energy conservation while hanging Christmas lights

Understanding Christmas Light Power Options

Creating your perfect Christmas display begins by deciding on the power source for your lights. Plug-in lights, battery-powered lights, and solar-powered lights are the three main options. Each has pros and cons that should be balanced against your needs and preferences.

Will you be using the lights indoors or outdoors? How many lights will you need? And what is your budget? Answering these questions will help you choose the ideal power source for your festive lighting.

Plug-In Lights

Plug-in Christmas lights are a dependable and cost-effective option for your holiday decorations. They provide a consistent power supply, but need an accessible power source and possibly extension cords for outdoor displays. Popular brands for plug-in Christmas lights include:

  • Atkin & Thyme
  • Cox & Cox
  • Festive Lights
  • GE Energy Smart
  • Wintergreen Lighting

These lights typically come in string lengths ranging from 10 to 20 meters, making them versatile for various decorating needs, and the number of lights on each string can vary.

Nonetheless, using plug-in lights requires a few considerations. They rely on a power source, which may limit their positioning and create potential tripping hazards with extension cords. Make sure to use a Residual Current Device (RCD) adaptor for outdoor sockets to prevent accidents due to power surges.

Battery-Powered Lights

Battery-powered lights, also known as battery operated lights, could be your perfect solution if you desire more flexibility in positioning your Christmas lights. Among the various types of Christmas lights, these lights provide versatility in placement, reduced wiring, and a tidier final look, making them a popular choice for many holiday decorators. Most battery-operated Christmas lights utilize 2 or 3 AA batteries, with some options using NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) or Li-Ion (lithium-ion) batteries.

While battery-powered lights offer convenience in terms of placement, they do require battery replacement, which can be a downside. The cost and environmental impact of battery usage should be considered when contemplating this option. A recommended product for battery-powered Christmas lights is the Loende Battery-Operated String Lights on Amazon for $13.98.

Solar-Powered Lights

For an environmentally friendly and energy-efficient option, consider solar-powered Christmas string lights. These lights harness the power of the sun during the day to illuminate your display at night. They’re an excellent choice for small areas that receive abundant sunlight and can potentially reduce electricity costs in the long run. A recommended product for solar-powered Christmas lights is the Joomer Solar String Lights on Amazon for $8.68, which includes 300 multicolor LED bulbs and eight lighting modes.

However, solar-powered lights do have their limitations. They may not perform optimally in shaded areas or on overcast days, and the individual solar panels of each light strand may clutter your yard. Despite these potential drawbacks, solar-powered lights remain an attractive option for those seeking an eco-friendly and energy-efficient alternative to traditional Christmas lights.

kid hanging Christmas lights

Comparing LED and Incandescent Christmas Lights

Having determined your preferred power source, you can now delve into the two main types of Christmas light bulbs: LED and incandescent. These bulbs have distinct differences in terms of energy efficiency, lifespan, and initial cost, so understanding these differences will help you make an informed decision when selecting the perfect lights for your holiday display.

LED Lights

LED lights are famed for their energy efficiency and durability. They’re brighter and more durable than incandescent bulbs, making them a popular choice for modern holiday displays. LED lights convert approximately 70% of their energy into light, which means they use up to 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Additionally, LED Christmas lights can last up to 50,000 hours, making them a reliable choice for your holiday decorations.

Despite their numerous advantages, LED lights have a higher initial cost compared to incandescent lights. However, the energy savings and extended lifespan of LED lights offset the higher upfront cost, making them a sound long-term investment for your holiday display.

Incandescent Lights

Incandescent Christmas lights, on the other hand, produce a warm glow and are cheaper upfront than LED lights. However, they have a shorter lifespan and higher energy consumption. Incandescent lights can utilize anywhere between 25 to 175 watts per strand, which is significantly higher than LED lights. The warm glow of incandescent lights contributes to a cozy and nostalgic ambiance, reminiscent of candlelight or a fireside glow, making them a popular choice for traditional holiday displays.

Despite their lower initial cost, incandescent lights may end up costing more in the long run due to their higher energy consumption and shorter lifespan. When choosing between LED and incandescent lights, consider factors such as energy efficiency, lifespan, and the desired aesthetic for your holiday display.

Having gained a better understanding of power options and bulb types, you can now explore popular Christmas light styles. The most common styles include string lights, icicle lights, and novelty shape lights. Each of these styles offers its own unique charm and can be used to create stunning and eye-catching holiday displays. Whether you’re going for a traditional look or a modern, dazzling spectacle, these popular styles will help you achieve your vision.

String Lights

Amongst many types of Christmas lights, the string lights are a classic and versatile choice for your holiday decorations. Comprised of multiple bulbs affixed to a wire or string, string lights can be used to decorate Christmas trees, landscaped areas, and house exteriors. With a wide variety of colours and bulb sizes available, string lights can be tailored to any holiday theme or home decor.

String lights are versatile and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, which contributes to their popularity among holiday decorators. Some benefits of LED string lights include:

  • Energy-efficient
  • Long-lasting
  • Safe to touch
  • Available in various colors and styles
  • Can be used for both residential and commercial displays

These features make LED string lights an excellent choice for any holiday or decorative lighting needs.

Icicle Lights

Icicle lights are a popular choice for those looking to create the illusion of icicles hanging from their roof or other structures. These lights feature strands of different lengths that descend from a longer string, giving the appearance of icicles. They’re perfect for adding a whimsical, snow-covered look to your home, and can be used both indoors and outdoors to create a festive atmosphere.

Novelty Shape Lights

Add a unique touch to your holiday display with novelty shape lights, including the popular christmas tree shape. These lights come in various shapes, such as snowflakes, stars, and Christmas trees, allowing you to create a truly one-of-a-kind display. Whether you’re looking for a focal point for your outdoor decorations or a fun addition to your indoor holiday setup, novelty shape lights can help you achieve a memorable and eye-catching display.

Choosing the Perfect Bulb Size

After deciding on the style of your Christmas lights, you should consider the suitable bulb size for your display. Popular bulb sizes include:

  • Mini lights
  • C6 bulbs
  • C7 bulbs
  • C9 bulbs

Each size has its own unique characteristics, so understanding the differences between them will help you select the ideal size for your holiday display and ensure a stunning and cohesive look.

Christmas lights bulb sizes

Mini Lights

Mini lights are:

  • Small, versatile, and perfect for decorating trees, lining homes, and creating intricate designs
  • Energy-efficient and long-lasting, making them a popular choice for holiday decorators
  • Available in various colours and styles, allowing you to customize your display to fit your desired theme or decor.

Mini lights, also known as fairy lights, versatile and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, allow for a cohesive holiday display throughout your home. With their small size and wide range of colours, mini lights are an excellent choice for those looking for a subtle yet stunning lighting option.

C6, C7, and C9 Bulbs

For larger and more powerful lighting options, consider C6, C7, and C9 bulbs. These bulbs are ideal for outdoor displays and wrapping large shrubs or bushes. With their larger size and higher wattage, these bulbs can create a more impactful and eye-catching display.

Whether you’re looking to line your home’s exterior or illuminate large outdoor landscaping features, C6, C7, and C9 bulbs are an excellent choice for making a statement with your holiday lighting display.

Christmas Light Colour Options

Having gained a better understanding of bulb sizes and styles, you can now delve into popular Christmas light colours. The most commonly used colours include warm white, cool white, and multicolour options. Each colour option offers its own unique ambiance and aesthetic, so consider your desired holiday atmosphere when selecting the perfect colour for your display.

Warm White

Warm white Christmas lights create a traditional and cozy atmosphere, reminiscent of candlelight or a fireside glow. These lights emit a soft, warm light with yellow undertones, making them perfect for creating a welcoming and intimate ambiance in your holiday display.

Warm white lights pair well with a variety of colours and decorations, making them a popular choice for homeowners looking for a classic and timeless holiday look.

Cool White

Cool white LED Christmas lights add a modern touch to your display, with a frosty appearance that is sleek and contemporary. These lights emit a cooler white light, typically ranging in colour temperature from 4000K to 6500K. Cool white lights can be used to create a minimalist and clean look, or they can be combined with other modern elements to create a glitzy and glamorous display.

If you’re looking for a more fashionable and current aesthetic, consider incorporating cool white lights into your holiday decorations.


For a vibrant and colourful light display, consider using multicolour Christmas lights. These lights feature a combination of various hues, including:

  • red
  • green
  • blue
  • yellow
  • purple
  • orange

They create a cheerful and festive atmosphere and can be used to create a lively and dynamic display, making them perfect for those looking to make a bold statement with their holiday decorations.

Whether you’re decking the halls with a rainbow of colours or simply adding a pop of brightness to your display, multicolour lights are a fun and eye-catching option.

Enhancing Your Display with Specialty Lights

To truly elevate your holiday display, consider incorporating specialty lights into your design. These lights include rope lights, net lights, and pathway lights, each offering unique benefits and visual appeal.

Adding specialty cluster lights to your display can create a more immersive and captivating experience for onlookers and guests.

Rope Lights

Rope lights are versatile and flexible lighting options that can be used to decorate doors, windows, and walkways. These lights consist of flexible strips of LEDs encased in clear protective sheaths, allowing them to bend and twist around various surfaces and structures. Rope lights can be used to create intricate shapes and patterns, making them perfect for accentuating architectural features or adding a touch of flair to your display.

Rope lights, flexible and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, allow for a cohesive and stunning lighting display throughout your home, from your front door to your backyard. With their ability to bend and twist around various surfaces, rope lights are an excellent choice for adding a unique and eye-catching element to your holiday display.

Net Lights

Net lights are pre-strung lights that are easy to arrange, creating a uniform look with minimal effort. These lights are designed to drape over bushes and shrubs, providing a quick and simple solution for illuminating your landscaping. Net lights are available in various dimensions and are typically constructed of sturdy materials such as rubber cable or pure copper wire to ensure durability.

To achieve the best results when draping net lights over your bushes and shrubs, consider overlapping multiple net lights in different directions or layering a few strands of string lights over the net lights for added depth and visual interest. Net lights are a convenient and effective way to add a touch of sparkle to your outdoor landscaping, making them an excellent choice for enhancing your holiday display.

Pathway Lights

Pathway lights are a festive way to guide guests to your home during the holiday season. These lights feature built-in stakes and can be used to illuminate walkways, driveways, and garden features. Pathway lights come in various shapes and styles, such as stars, snowflakes, reindeer, and Christmas trees, allowing you to create a welcoming and festive atmosphere for your visitors.

In addition to their decorative appeal, pathway lights can also:

  • Improve safety and security by illuminating walkways and making it easier to navigate your property in the dark
  • Create a stunning and inviting entrance for your guests
  • Ensure their safety as they approach your home
deers on the house

Tips for a Safe and Efficient Christmas Light Display

Having gained a better understanding of the various types of Christmas lights, styles, and colours, remember to prioritize safety and efficiency as you create your holiday display. By following a few simple tips, you can ensure that your festive lights not only look stunning but are also safe and energy-efficient.

Energy Conservation

Choosing energy-efficient lights like LED lights, which use up to 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, can help save energy during the holiday season. Additionally, here are some tips to conserve energy and reduce electricity costs:

  • Turn off your Christmas lights when they’re not in use
  • Use a timer or smart plug to automatically turn off your lights at a certain time
  • Consider using solar-powered lights
  • Use fewer lights or opt for smaller displays
  • Use energy-efficient decorations and appliances
  • Consider using candles or other non-electric decorations

Not only will these tips help you save money, but they will also contribute to environmental conservation efforts.

Remember, every little bit counts when it comes to saving energy and protecting our planet.

Hanging Lights Safely

Ensuring that your Christmas lights are securely attached when hanging is crucial to prevent accidents and damage. Here are some tips to help you hang your lights safely and securely:

  1. Use clips, hangers, and lawn stakes specifically designed for Christmas lights to hang them.
  2. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines when installing your lights.
  3. Inspect cords for fraying or damage before hanging them to prevent potential fire hazards or electrical shock hazards.

By taking these precautions, you can create a beautiful and safe holiday display for all to enjoy.

Using Timers

Using plug-in timers to automate your Christmas light display can save energy and maintain a consistent lighting schedule. Timers can be set to turn your lights on and off at specific times, ensuring your display is only illuminated when you want it to be. This not only saves energy but also adds an element of convenience as you won’t need to manually switch your lights on and off.

With a timer in place, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your stunning holiday display without any added hassle.


In conclusion, selecting the perfect Christmas lights for your holiday display may seem daunting, but with a little knowledge and planning, you can create a stunning and memorable display that will enchant friends, family, and passersby alike. Remember to consider your power source, the type of bulbs you prefer, popular styles, bulb sizes, and colour options when planning your display. Incorporate specialty lights, such as rope lights, net lights, and pathway lights, to elevate your display and make it truly unique. Finally, ensure your display is safe and energy-efficient by following our tips for energy conservation, hanging lights safely, and using timers. With these guidelines in mind, you’re well on your way to creating a magical and enchanting holiday display that will be the talk of the neighborhood.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the names of Christmas lights?

Christmas lights, also known as fairy lights, festive lights or string lights, are popularly used to decorate houses and Christmas trees during the festive season. Icicle, shape, pathway, projector, rope, net, and trunk wrap lights are the common types.

What type of Christmas lights are outdoor?

String lights are ideal for wrapping around outdoor trees, while net lights offer a grid of LED bulbs perfect for fences, porches and window frames. Both types of Christmas lights offer multiple colour options and create a stunning visual effect.

What kind of Christmas lights do I want?

For most people, LED Christmas lights are the best choice, offering greater efficiency and durability than incandescent lights. For a traditional look indoors, you should consider Christmas Lights Etc’s Clear Christmas Tree Mini Lights. Be sure to check Power Cord Safety Tips when extending strands and choosing extension cords and lights of the proper amperage.

What are non LED Christmas lights called?

Non LED Christmas lights are traditional incandescent lights, known for their warm and clear glow that adds a timeless touch to your holiday decor.

What are the key differences between plug-in, battery-powered, and solar-powered Christmas lights?

Plug-in lights require a power source and may need extension cords, whereas battery-powered lights offer flexibility but require battery replacement. Solar-powered lights are eco-friendly and energy-efficient, but their performance may be affected by shade or overcast days.


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