The Outdoor LED Lights Look Great!

Since we moved into our house, we enjoy putting lights outside on various trees and bushes in the front of the house, as well as the deck railing in back.

This year, we completed the transition to LED lighting for the entire outdoor set of lights!  I’m happy to say that we like it a lot.  As an added bonus, our next door neighbors do their garage, trees and bushes in the same style of lighting so we inadvertently created a ‘double dose’ of lighting.

It was a ‘long’ road to get here, relatively speaking.

In 2008, we had no plans to get up and do any shopping on Black Friday.  However, for reasons I can’t remember, we were both up around 5am.  I decided to go look at the sale ads and found that the KMart ad contained a great sale on LED lights.  We agreed that since we were up we’d go there, as well as to a couple of other places.

KMart had multi-colored LED lights, for which we bought seven sets or so at a good price.

That year, we used them indoors on our ‘family room’ tree.

As much as we tried to tell ourselves we liked it, in the end we really didn’t.  The lights, while cool, provided too many ‘spotlights’ around the room.

So, last year in 2009 we returned that tree to traditional lighting.

The LED lights we had previously used ended up going out on the deck railing, and the railing lights came in to the tree.  In the front we still used our regular lines as well.  Those were el cheapo lines, and the biggest problem with them is that, since they were in trees and since I was working from the and since they were cheaply made, lights sometimes got pulled loose from their sockets when being taken down.

This year, in 2010, I decided to take advantage of a ‘double promotion’ by Home Depot to replace all of the lights in front.  They had a sale, plus they had a trade in offer of $3 per old line of lights.  All told, I was able to replace the 700 lights or so with new lights for an average of $5 per line of 50, which I thought was pretty good.

The ‘spotlight’ effect isn’t an issue outside.  I know that they were costing us lots of money on our energy bill, plus the LED lights that go on the tree are little ‘nubs’ versus the longer bulbs in traditional lines, so there’s less chance of them getting pulled out during the taking down process.

Our inside lights are still all traditional lights.  The coloring of the lights isn’t warm enough with LEDs to allow us to bring them indoors.  Hopefully as the technology advances, they will be able to ‘warm up’ the lights while cutting back on some of the ‘harshness’ that still seems to be in play with LED lines.

Even so, we’ll consume much less energy indoors this year.  In the past, we’ve done three Christmas trees.  One in the front window that was kind of the ‘classy’ tree.  One in the family room that had all of our ‘fun and family’ ornaments.  One in the dining room that was a really small tree that didn’t take long to put up and was sort of an add-on.  Still, with a very curious Little Boy Beagle, we had to cut back down to one.  We combined the first two trees, so that we have our tree in the window in the front window but it contains our ‘fun and family’ sentimental ornaments.

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How’d We Do On Black Friday?

I hope that everybody had a wonderful Thanksgiving (for those in America who celebrated it!)

We had a great weekend.  It was hectic running back and forth but we had a wonderful time with our families and eating way too much!

Black Friday went great for us…because we didn’t really shop!

Looking at our lists, there just weren’t things on there that we wanted to get or had to have which would have led to great deals.  While we probably could have found a thing or two at rock bottom prices, the savings just weren’t worth the aggravation.

We did make one shopping stop that we couldn’t pass up.  Our front door wreath had given up the ghost after last Christmas, so we stopped at Joann’s and got a new one on sale using a 20% off everything (even sale items), as well as a couple of simple wreaths to hang from the carriage lights next to the garage.

Other than that, it was a very low spending weekend.

And that’s certainly something to give thanks for, right?

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How Do You Keep Your Kids and Christmas Tree Separated?

We have a very active toddler who likes to explore and get into everything.

With the Christmas tree season coming up, we are looking for ways to protect the tree and the toddler from one another.

There’s always the options of not putting up the tree, which we will be doing in part.  We usually put up three trees, one normal tree, one slimmed down tree, and a really skinny tree.  We’ll be cutting that back to one this year.

Still, it’s impossible to keep him away from things that interest him.  Even if we put the ornaments higher to protect them, he still loves to touch and examine things, and we know that the allure will be too much for him to stay away from.

We’ve looked into the baby gates that are designed to be free standing for kids.  That’s always an option.

My dad actually sent a really interesting option and that’s surrounding it with a pet exercise pen.  They are much cheaper and I think could we could even attach ours to the window sill board with a couple of eye hooks to provide a greater circumfrence area of protection.

I’m sure some of my readers have had creative solutions to this issue.  If you have any ideas on how to keep the toddler and the tree apart, I’d love to hear them!

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The LED Christmas Light Issue

We do some lights on the outside of our house, in the bushes and around a big tree in the front yard.  We have been interested in converting to LED lights, and I decided to look and see if this could be the year.

I am a little concerned with everything that I found.

While we ended up getting lights, there still seems to be a lot of barriers to get lights into peoples hands to realize the energy savings that everybody talks about.

Here are some issues I see with LED lights:

  • Availability – At almost every store I went to, I saw shelf after shelf of ‘regular’ lights, but very little space dedicated to LED lights.  I saw signs at a few stores promoting the virtues of LED lights and how they could lead to 80% savings over traditional lights.  Yet, in most cases, regular lines of LED bulbs were sold out.  This is the third year I’ve gone on a quest for LED bulbs and I was not impressed with their availability at all.
  • Price – When there were LED lines available, they were very expensive.  When stores do offer them at discounts, you can go right back to the availability discussion because they’re usually gone the first day.  So, your choice becomes to look for the lines at $7, which are always gone, or pay $19 for the same line.  I think it would take a lot longer to make that extra $12 back in energy savings, so people just forget it.
  • Look – This is the first year I’ve seen white lights that aren’t those awful blue shade.  It looks like technology is finally getting there to offer traditional white lights that can save money.  Of course, their limited availability meant that they were priced even higher than regular lines.  I think it will be another two or three years before you actually see these.

We ended up getting lucky and getting some multi-colored lines for our house, using a $3 trade in offer from Home Depot, where they accepted old lines and gave you a $3 credit towards and LED line of lights.

Of course, I had to get there at 9:20 on a Saturday morning.  I bought what I wanted and thought about going back to get some more…but by 10am, they were of course gone.

All in all, I’m impressed with the technology but I’m not impressed with the availability of the consumer to get that technology.  It seems that price and availability have not yet caught up to allow consumers en masses to replace their lines.  The sad part is that the barriers seem to be in place so that consumers will continue to buy regular lines of lights instead.

So, when you see all the advertising about how much money you can save with LED Christmas lights this year, I wouldn’t get your hopes up too much.

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