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  • The original Rudolph did not have a red nose. In that day and age, red noses were seen as an indicator of chronic alcoholism and Montgomery Ward didn’t want him to look like a drunkard. To complete the original picture, he was almost named Reginald or Rollo.
  • The Christmas wreath was originally hung as a symbol of Jesus. The holly represents his crown of thorns and the red berries the blood he shed.
  • The three traditional colors of most Christmas decorations are red, green and gold. Red symbolizes the blood of Christ, green symbolized life and rebirth, and gold represents light, royalty and wealth.
  • Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany and was once made of real silver.
  • The oldest artificial Christmas trees date back to the late 1800s and were made of green raffia (think grass hula skirts) or dyed goose feathers. Next the Addis Brush Company used their machinery that wove toilet brushes to create pine-like branches for artificial Christmas trees that were less flammable and could hold heavier decorations.
  • ‘Jingle Bells’ – the popular Christmas song was composed by James Pierpont in Massachusetts, America. It was, however, written for thanksgiving and not Christmas.
  • Coca-Cola was the first company that used Santa Claus during the winter season for promotion.
  • Hallmark introduced their first Christmas cards in 1915.
  • The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on that day.
  • Santa Claus's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen), with Rudolph being a 20th-century inclusion.
  • Outdoor Christmas lights on homes evolved from decorating the traditional Christmas tree and house with candles during the Christmas season. Lighting the tree with small candles dates back to the 17th century and originated in Germany before spreading to Eastern Europe.
  • That big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard didn’t always look that way. Prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. When Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.
  • Christmas 2018 countdown has already begun. Will you be ready???
  • Why do we love Christmas? It's all about the traditions. In this chaotic world we can miss the "good old days." Christmas reminds us of that time.
Don Johnson

LED or Incandescent for a newby?

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Hello PC world. I found this site after a trip to Home Depot and saw their Mr. Christmas system. I decided to do a search on the internet before I purchased them. I am glad I did. I found the LOR site and this one. I know that I would never be happy with just the Mr. Christmas.

I am excited about trying to follow in your guys (and gals) footsteps. I quickly realized that this new hobby was not going to be fast or cheap. Although it is killing me, I decided to not rush and try and shoot for next Christmas (2010).

My question revolves around LED vs. incandescent. If you guys had the luxury of starting from the beginning, would you use LED or incandescent? I have learned from this forum that the LED

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I prefer the look of incandescents, but that is a personal preference.

Incandescents are obviously way cheaper up front, but you'll save the money in electricity bills for LEDs.

The biggest flaw with LEDs right now is that the ones with the removable bulbs are not watertight, and water can get in and rust them out. So don't buy the ones with removable bulbs.

LEDs do use significantly less energy, but they are not as smooth and soft of a light as incandescents.

I've heard of problems dimming LEDs on LOR boards, but I haven't heard of one in a while. I think that that question mainly came up when LEDs first became popular. I heard one person say that by putting a nightlight on the same channel as his LEDs, it resolved the dimming issue. Your mileage will vary.

And, a side note, I consider incandescents disposable. If a strand won't work, and I can't get it to work with my LightKeeperPro, I just toss it. But if one of my few LED strings broke, I would be much more upset after knowing how much I spent on them.

Another thing- LED's have sort of a neonish look to them. Incandescents are a nice, warm, soft light. I have a mix, and I wish I would have bought one or the other.

Even though LED's are cool looking, I'm traditional and prefer the look of Incandescents.

Just my $0.02

-Tyler

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you'll save the money in electricity bills for LEDs.

I don't believe that. Particularly with animated displays, you'll never make the money back, and even if you did, you'd be better getting a low-interest CD or something.

The exception would be displays that run for 12+ hours a day, like malls,etc.

That said, I'm not anti-LED, I'm adding more each year. But I don't have any false notions of ever "getting my money back". I do it for the look, and originally did it for lower maintenance, but I'm starting to wonder about that...

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I am 100% LED. I love the look and can run over 50K lights on 3 circuits without worrying about popping a breaker.

Don't buy LEDs in stores. Get them from one of the vendors here during the spring sales.

The only reason people care about the wire color is sometimes they are putting them in bushes (green) or on wireframes (white).

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Just go over to the "Florida" forums and start a new thread saying "Hi. Maybe mention in the subject line where you are.

(It used to be easier to find people by state.)

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Have to second the votes for LEDs. I have a mixture, but am trying to convert as much as humanly possible to LED. It is more expensive, but if you are a savvy shopper you can find some decent deals, and like you, I just started this hobby last year so i had the luxury of almost starting from scratch. I also agree that some LEDs do look neon, and the "cool white" just looks like Light Blue to me. However, good quality LEDs look very similar to incandescents, especially if they are flashing on and off in a sequence. Maybe it would be more noticeable in a static display.

All that being said, the electricity bill isn't the biggest advantage for me. The biggest issue that a lot of people run into is running out of power (as in outdoor outlets and circuits) to power all the lights. If you factor in having to add additional GFCI outlets, circuits, wiring, subpanels, breakers, etc. (and the cost of an electrician if you aren't comfortable doing it yourself), it gets really expensive relaly quick. You can quickly justify the extra cost of the LED strings for the lower power consumption. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it... :121_reindeer:

Steve

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For a noob, I would strongly recommend against LEDs.

They don't hold up as well as they are touted. The replaceable LEDs are even worse.

They are expensive.

They don't cut your electricity bill much if you aren't using tens of thousands for several hours a night.

You'll never get return on investment.

If they fail early on you, or perform below your expectations, you may not be very enthusiastic about lights later on.

I would start with some cheap incans, and spend a few seasons with those. Later on when/if you become way more serious, you can justify spending a bit more for LEDs because they have more vivid colors and consume less energy in bigger displays. Also, later on LEDs will surely be better than they are now.

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I started with 16 channels and all incandescent. I am now up to 80 channels and mixed LED and incandescent. My big issue has nothing to do with saving money on energy cost as having the lights on for a 1/2 second here and there the increase in my electric bill was only $80 with 30k lights last year.

I have been going to LED mainly due to power concerns. Last year I started popping circuits right and left. Bringing in LEDs has stopped that problem.

As for buying LEDs - all of my LEDs are post-christmas sales. I have not taken part in purchasing from a vendor during the spring sale (if I recall there were some fire issues with them last year - but, the vendor did replace them from what I heard).

I like the color of the LEDs, but some do give a neon appearence. The incandescents do seem to have a nice warm color to them.

Good luck in your descision - either way - welcome to the world of animated lighting... it is an addiction!

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The payback for LEDs is about 3000 hours of operation. That's based on 100 LEDs costing $10 more than 100 minis and using 7 W instead of 35 W (for 100 minis) at $0.10 / kW.h. The longer you run your display and the more expensive electricity is in your area, the more likely you are to see your LEDs pay for themselves. I run a static display that is on 8-10 hours a day all winter, so I will likely get there before my LEDs die. For a 4 hour / day, 45 day / year animated display in a place with cheap power, payback is unlikely.

Some people have had durability issues with LEDs, but I have several hundred beginning their third year stapled to my house with over 2000 hours of operation. I've had one half-string failure (fixed by removing the offending bulb) and one half-string has a few bulb failures. Incandescents exposed to those conditions would have faded to clear after the first summer and I would have had to replace dozens of burnouts. I got mine at Costco, but I don't know if your local Costco carries the same product (I live in Canada).

LEDs have a bigger advantage if you like colored lights. They produce intense, pure colors that do not fade, and they are brighter than colored minis. Blue is particularly striking. If you like warm white though, the brightness advantage is small to non-existent and LEDs don't sparkle the way incandescents do.

On halfwave vs. fullwave: LEDs are diodes and only conduct electricity in one direction. They also have a minimum turn on voltage, below which they produce no light at all. When they are hooked up directly to AC power (halfwave configuration), they flash at 60 Hz and are only emitting light about 1/3 of the time. This produces a flicker that some people hardly notice and others find quite annoying. Rectifying the AC to pulsed DC (fullwave configuration) increases the flash rate to 120 Hz and increases the total fraction of on-time to about 2/3. Most people can no longer detect the flicker at 120 Hz unless the lights are moving quickly relative to the observer. Some rectifier designs also incorporate capacitors to filter the DC and eliminate the on-off cycling altogether.

Edited by Titanium48

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I have a mix myself - and will continue to have a mix.

I live in Arizona - and sets dying are not my problem - color fade is.

I've tossed nearly 100+ sets of lights this year due to color fade (I get 3-4 years from a set at most - some blue lights are only 2 seasons before they are gone)

However - anything that I use multi color lights on - I will continue to use incandescants - as they still look much better than multi-led, but, one day I might convert though.

Next year is my mini-tree conversion to LED - thats 192 sets of lights. The lights are starting to show the color loss this year and need to be done. Then the following year will be the mega tree at 384 strands of light..... ack!

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djohnson1810, I was in your shoes just a couple of years ago. When I calculated how many amps the display I'd planned was going to draw, I quickly discovered I didn't have sufficient service at my house. So, I was left with the choice of either blowing $1000 on a electrician to upgrade my service, or spend the money on LED's and use my existing service. I opted for LED's, and I'm now glad I did.

As for buying LED's, I'd follow ChuckHutchings' advice and go with one of the PC vendors.

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A lot to think about guys. It is good to hear both sides of the story. Maybe I will get a mixture of both the first year and play with them.

Any other thoughts are apprieciated. Thanks!

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However - anything that I use multi color lights on - I will continue to use incandescants - as they still look much better than multi-led, but, one day I might convert though.

Interesting. The only LED colors I don't particularly care for are the various flavors of white. While the phosphors are improving and I have seen some that actually are white, most of the white LEDs I've seen are either light blue or pink. I like the multicolor LEDs though, as the colors are more intense and all of the colors have similar brightness. They're not exactly equal (green is often a bit bright and yellow a bit dim), but much better than multicolor incandescents where yellow outshines everything and blue is barely visible unless it is faded.

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I have about 10,000 incan. and will SLOWLY be switching over.... My colored lights will be the first to change, starting this year, then my icicles..

My priority on changing are all my static elements first... Then I'll grow on the LED static from there.. My animated portion (if it stays the way it is this year..) will just see new incan. colors... Why? Like others have mentioned, the savings isn't enough as they are hardly on, and others have had problems with the responsiveness of them fading, etc..

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I think that the reason that I like incandescents (especially in an animated display) is because when they turn off, they don't just go right off. They "cool down" and it's a cool look, especially when the lights are blinking to music in an animated display.

When LED's turn off, they're not as smooth. They just turn off.

That probably made no sense, but whatever.

-Tyler

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I think that the reason that I like incandescents (especially in an animated display) is because when they turn off, they don't just go right off. They "cool down" and it's a cool look, especially when the lights are blinking to music in an animated display.

When LED's turn off, they're not as smooth. They just turn off.

That probably made no sense, but whatever.

-Tyler

No, I get what you're saying, and I agree!!!

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For what it's worth (or not worth), here's my humble opinion. I don't look at LED as a money saver. My display is on for 7 hours a night, for about 8 weeks. Never gonna make your extra money back. It will allow more lights per circuit breaker, which is always good. My display is mixed incandescent/LED. Certain elements like the nativity area just don't look good in neon-like LED. Stay with incandescent for that. But other areas, like the snowman in my countdown clock, the brighter look of the LED was the way to go. Always buy your lights in the off season sales, and do your display in whatever way makes YOU happy.

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It is (at least theoretically) possible to replicate the cool down effect with LEDs by programming an exponential fade rather than a sharp off.

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My display is mixed incandescent/LED. Certain elements like the nativity area just don't look good in neon-like LED. Stay with incandescent for that. But other areas, like the snowman in my countdown clock, the brighter look of the LED was the way to go.

I like your thought process. I may try incan for certain situations and LED's for others.

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I really don't like Led's even if they were to save you money I like the Incandescent Better they have a more natural look as compared to the LED's. They have more of a Neon Light look which I'm not a big fan of I rather have my regular lights That I know I can fix if something goes wrong vs the LED's that when they go bad they are done, so for me I'm gonna stay with my Incandescent lights for the next few years and then if they make some improvements too the LED's I might consider the switch:)

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I'd like to pipe in with a question on LEDs.. do these fade as quickly as incands? My only problem with the incans is the are almost useless after 2-3 years due to fading... Just curious if anyone else has noticed this.

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No, LEDs do not fade. LEDs are inherently monochromatic light sources, making them perfect for colored lights. The plastic "bulbs" are purely decorative - even if they get sunbleached clear, the LED will still produce the same color it always did.

Incandescents produce broad spectrum white light, which must be filtered to get colored light. The filter (paint on the bulb) absorbs the unwanted colors of light and turns them into heat. When the paint fades, unwanted colors start to get through and your lights start to look washed out.

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LED's wont fade because the color is GENERATED by the bulb and is not FILTERED by the glass.. in a regular incandescent blue say.. its just a white light filemane inside the bulb and then paint on the outside.. with an LED the blue is created by the bulb.. there will be no fade...

I bought some LED's to experiment with for 2009 and I have to say that for certain display elements I surely will be switching them over starting in 2010.. things like my mini trees, mega tree, may be 3 color C-9 roof outline.. however my clears wqill be incandescent.. and my multi colored C-9 outline will be incandescent as that gives me the "Old christmas" look I want in some of my songs...

personally I will be changing some over just because I get tired of remaking displ;ay elements or repainting lightbulbs every year.. in ohio we tend to get a lot of rain / freezing rain / and sleety stuff in december and thats tough on lights.. esp on incandescents in an animated display because they warm up just enough for snow to melt on them.. then when the show ends that water down inside the sockets freezes. and CRACK!..

but I guess you dont have to worry about that down in florida..

I would suggest starting out with 16 channels and a few thousand incandescent lights to toss around and experiment with.. maybe a few LED strings mixed in just to get a feel for both..

Learn to sequence over the next year.. watch videos and see what you like about one display versus another to help you decide on what to build.. go drive around to as many animated displays as you can find this season and watch them..

im learning the hard way how much work is involved in expanding a display.. in 2006 i had 48 channels.. so in 2007 I went to 64 channels and i thought.. well thats easy.. I had planned on going to 112 channels in 2008.. but work kept me from working on or running a display at all.. so being dissapointed i said "bigger than ever" for 2009.. so 176 channels.. 2007 I had 15,000 lights.. im up to 35,000 lights on 176 channels for this year and though I still have great energy and spirit im feeling a little overwhelmed at the work it has taken and will take still to pull it off..

so dont bust out with huge hopes and not a plan as to how to put it together....

and most of all.. HAVE FUN OUT THERE!!! (yeah I own a jeep)....

and yes though overwhelmed.. im having fun.. the show is only 80% built and I test ran it last night for 30 minutes and already had a line of cars....

-Christopher

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