How Much Energy Do Christmas Lights Use?
December 8, 2022
The holidays are here, and you might be one to go all-out with a delightful display of Christmas lights lining the walkway, the trees, the windows and even the roof of your home. Some people even opt for animated inflatables, decorated shrubbery, music, projections and more.
But if you’re planning on setting up a full Clark Griswold show of your Christmas spirit, you might be using quite a bit of energy.
Should you be worried? Are Christmas lights energy-efficient? Could we be easier on our wallets (and our environment)?
It really all depends on the light display size, how many bulbs you are using and, more importantly, the type of bulb and energy source you utilize.
[Related: Are Solar Panels Worth It? What You Need to Know to Decide]
Christmas Lights’ Energy Usage
While it may not seem like your Christmas lights are using that much energy, you could be close to tripping your breakers if you exceed amp capacity. This can happen to households that choose a lot of traditional, incandescent light displays.
Most household circuits can handle 15 or 20 amps, which is equal to 1,800 to 2,400 watts. Moreover, circuits should never exceed 80% of their max wattage capacity. Whenever you plug your Christmas lights into a wall outlet, they’re sharing that circuit’s capacity with anything else drawing power. This is where you need to be careful and aware of how many watts you’re using.
Traditional Christmas lights are referred to as incandescent lights. They function by heating up a source in the middle of the bulb that lights up the surrounding bulb. In the late 2000s, LED lights started becoming more popular than traditional bulbs for their durability and lower energy usage.
Let’s take a look at the amount of energy each type of Christmas lights use as they do their job at providing some much-needed holiday cheer.
How Much Energy Does a Strand of Christmas Lights Use?
C7 and C9 Christmas bulbs are a popular choice for outdoor light displays, especially roof lines. While incandescent bulbs covering the roof lines of your home may provide a cozy, classic Christmas aesthetic, they end up using a lot of energy compared to LED or solar-powered lights.
For example, 300 C9 incandescent bulbs use 2,100 watts. Incandescent wattage is up to 90% more than LED wattage, which also makes powering that type of display more expensive as well.
Another thing about incandescent lights is that you shouldn’t connect more than four or five strands. Anything more than that and they won’t be able to handle the wattage.
If you’re opting for incandescent lights this season, make sure you have a great understanding of what wattage your home can handle and how many strings you’re connecting together.
[Related: How Going Solar Benefits the Environment and Public Health]
How Much Energy Do LED Christmas Lights Use?
On the other hand, LED Christmas lights offer a less energy-intensive option for recreating the North Pole in your own front yard.
Going back to the previous example, using 300 C9 LED bulbs to cover all the roof lines of your home will end up using only 29 watts as compared to the 2,100 watts used by incandescent lighting. The difference is extreme: On average, LED lights use 80% to 90% less energy than their more traditional counterparts.
You can also connect multiple strands and reduce the amount of outlets required for setting up your display. Many LED lights allow you to connect over 50 strands together depending on the bulb count. So you might be closer to creating your winter wonderland dream display than you think!
Fun Fact: Each year the United States uses approximately 6.63 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to power Christmas lights — enough to power 14 million refrigerators.
Christmas Lights’ Energy Cost
According to a study from Simple Thrifty Living, the average amount Americans pay to light a Christmas display for 34 days leading up to New Year’s is about $19.81.
The calculations used assume the light displays:
- Are active for six hours each night
- Use 10 strands of incandescent lights at approximately 70 feet each
- Include two inflatable decorations
They also take into account the varying costs in each state. For example, Hawaii is the most expensive state to light up, coming in at $46.62 for 34 days of Christmas light decor, while Louisiana spends a thrifty $13.94.
So how much is your holly jolly display really costing you this season? Follow these steps to calculate your power usage:
- Know your wattage: Find out how many total watts you will be using.
- Multiply your wattage by 0.001 to find kilo-watt hours.
- Multiply by 5 hours a day to find kwh/day.
- Multiply by 30 days to find kwh/season.
- Multiply by 11.3 cents, or your cost of power usage found on your electric bill, to calculate cost.
Not great at math, or simply too busy? Easy-to-use online calculators are readily available with a quick Google search.
[Related: Do Solar Panels Work at Night?]
How to Reduce Christmas Lights’ Energy Consumption With Solar
If you’re thinking of going all-out this year with the decorations but want to be kinder to the environment (and in some cases, your wallet), consider lighting up with solar panels. But remember, solar panels only produce energy during the day. Sending any excess solar power to backup power solutions (i.e., charging it) allows you to power your lights at night when your panels are taking a break.
In short, solar power produced during the day will help offset your electricity costs at night because you can pull stored energy from your solar battery versus the grid.
Solar panels use renewable energy from the sun to power your home. The more direct sunlight that hits the cells of your panels, the more electricity it will produce. Don’t worry if you live in the Pacific Northwest or other somewhat overcast areas — solar panels are designed to work in all weather conditions, including cloudy days and overnight using ultraviolet light.
Using solar panels for Christmas lights comes with a variety of benefits.
Solar-powered Christmas lights give you the convenience and versatility needed to let your imagination run wild while decorating.
Rather than being stuck with a limited amount of outlets, you can hang solar lights anywhere you want without worrying about the closest outlet or unsightly extension cords. Light up the bushes furthest from your front door with ease, and avoid worrying about how many strands you can connect.
While the difference in cost savings between using LED lights and solar lights might not seem like much at first, you should consider that you will only have to purchase your solar panel setup once. After that, it will pay for itself over and over for many Christmases to come when you look at your utility bill.
Compared to traditional incandescent lights, you might notice more of an instant impact on your wallet, which means more wiggle room in your holiday shopping budget!
The biggest benefit of using solar power is eco-friendliness.
When you use solar panels to light things like Christmas lights, you are an active part of the solution to fight back against global warming by reducing your carbon footprint. Secure a better, greener future for you and your family by choosing something that runs off of endless renewable energy.
[Related: From Tiny Homes to Art Installations: Creative Uses of Solar Power]
Light the Way With Freedom Solar
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! If you’re ready to make the switch this holiday season, or considering giving the gift of solar energy to a loved one, partner with us at Freedom Solar.
As a full-service solar company, we’ve been installing home solar panel systems and commercial solar panels for over 15 years.
Contact us today with questions, or schedule your free consultation now and enjoy long-lasting, cost-efficient lights and renewable energy in the new year.
Featured Image via Unsplash