How To: Buy the LED lights and supplies you need for Christmas
There are now so many choices in LED holiday lighting products, that sometimes it’s hard to know what to pick, or how many lights you’ll need. Here are some tips, from our professional Christmas Light Installers, on how to order just the right amount of material.
• Locate your electrical sources, prior to deciding what to light, and how you are going to light it – If you don’t have power, or cannot get an extension cord to where you want to decorate, you will most likely not be able to light those areas. (Unless you hire an electrician to put an outlet in, or use battery or solar powered lights)
• Determine your design – Take into account Landscape Features (Trees/Bushes and their proximity to the home and each other), as well as Architectural Features (Focal Point of home, Roofline features, and where windows are).
• Decide on a color scheme – Try White on the Roofline and Color in the landscape, this creates depth, and the white provides a nice backdrop to the color(s) in the foreground.
• Make sure you have the proper number and lengths of extension cords, as well as triple taps, prior to starting your install. You will want to install with the lights ON, so having the extension cords you need before you start installing, will make this much easier.
• Confirm, and double check your estimates, for each item you are decorating. It is much easier to do the install all at once, as opposed to running short, and having to find and go get additional product so you can finish.
• Bulb style used will generally correlate with the size of the item you are decorating – Smaller items will be decorated with smaller bulb styles, and larger items will be decorated with larger bulb styles.
• Keep all connections up off of the ground – Run extension cords up into the crotch of the tree or bush you are decorating, to keep your connection up off of the ground and out of standing water. If you must have connections on the ground, put them inside of a DRiBOX.
• Don’t forget about any other installation accessories you might need – Gutter Clips for roofline installation, Splitters/Taps/Spacer Wires for the Commercial Grade LEDs, timers to control your lights, or other mounting hardware such as screws or j-hooks.
Rooflines are usually lit with the C7 or C9 Bulb Style. These bulb shapes are usually spaced further apart, and will give you a nice outline of the building, without giving you the look of a solid line of lights. To keep your lights straight, and evenly spaced, use a Christmas Light Clip on each bulb.
Estimating how much product you will need: Measure the rooflines you want to light. On one story buildings, you can usually get a pretty good estimate from the ground. Always round this number up, as these measurements will not be exact, and it is always better to have a little extra as opposed to not having enough. Divide the total length needed, by the lighted length of the product of you choose, which will give you the total number of sets needed to light your roofline. LED Retrofit Bulbs and Socket Wire are the professional installers choice for rooflines, as you can cut the wire to the exact length you need, and then add the appropriate number and color(s) of bulbs.
Wreaths are a nice addition to your front door, centered under the peak of a roofline, or hung around lights on either side of your garage door. If you are mounting the wreath directly to your home’s surface, J-Hooks are a good mounting option – (1) J-Hook per 24” or 36” wreath, (2) J-Hooks per 48” Wreath, (2) J-Hooks + additional secure point at the bottom for 60” and 72” Wreaths. Pre-Lit, and Unlit Wreaths are available – If you cannot find a Pre-Lit Wreath in the color you are looking for, try purchasing an Unlit Wreath and lighting it yourself (24” Wreath - 35-50 lights, 36” Wreath - 100 lights, 48” Wreath - 200 lights, 60” Wreath - 400 lights, 72” Wreath - 600 lights)
Garland is a great addition to columns, porch/deck railings, or swaged along a fence line. Pre-Lit, and Unlit Garland is available – If you cannot find Pre-Lit Garland in the color you are looking for, try purchasing Unlit Garland and lighting it yourself (9’ Length of Garland will require about 100 lights)
Estimating how much product you will need: If you are using the garland in a straight line, you will just need to get a liner measurement of the area you want to cover. If you are wrapping the garland around something, or are going to be swaging it, you will need some string to do your measurements. Use a piece of string, and wrap or swag it, where you want the garland to be. Once you have it how you like it, remove the string and measure its total length. Divide your total length, by the length of the individual piece of garland, and that is how many pieces of garland you will need.
Trees are a little more tricky, as the number of lights you will need, and the bulb style you will use, will vary based on the lighting technique, the type of tree, and density of the branches.
Evergreen trees usually use a few less lights, as you usually just light the outer 2/3 of each branch, and leave the inner 1/3 unlit (you cannot see the inner branches, and thus do not need to “waste” lights trying to light what you cannot see) Laying lights onto the individual branches, swaging the lights onto the tree, or swirling around the tree, are the more common lighting techniques.
Deciduous trees have a few more lighting options –
Wrapping individual branches, swaging the lights onto the tree, or swirling around the tree, are all canopy decorating options. You can light just the canopy, light just the trunk, or do a combination of both.
Estimating how much product you will need:
This estimation will vary based on the type of tree you are lighting and technique you use to light it. Here is a starting formula, and the variations of it, depending on which technique you choose.
Height of Tree (from the ground to the tippy top) × Width of Tree (at widest point) × 0.18 ꞊ Number of sets needed to branch wrap a deciduous tree
This formula is calculating for lighting the Canopy Only, using 50ct or 70ct sets at 23’ to 25’ long
If you are using the:
Lay-In Technique on Evergreen Trees Minus about 10% from this total
Swaging Technique on Evergreen or Deciduous Trees Minus about 30% from this total
Swirling Technique on Evergreen or Deciduous will use even less lights, but exact amount would be calculated differently. (Decide how far apart you want the swirls around the tree, to be from each other. Divide the height of the canopy by the distance you want between each swirl. Multiply the number of swirls needed, by the Circumference of the tree, which will give you the total feet needed)
120 (inches of canopy height) ÷ 6 (inches between swirls around tree) ꞊ 20 wraps × 15 (feet of canopy circumference) ꞊ 300 feet of lights needed
5MM or G12 bulb styles, are the professional installers bulb styles of choice, for Wrapping Deciduous Trees.
M5 work well for lay-in or swirling techniques, and the C6 bulb style looks great on medium size pine trees. C7 LED String Lights would be the product of choice for swaging techniques.