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Everything You Need To Know About LED Christmas Light Bulbs

Everything You Need to Know About LED Christmas Light Bulbs

Our senses are what makes the world we live in seem vibrant, exciting, and magical. From the smell of freshly baked cookies to the subtle sound of our favorite song flowing quietly through our ears. Our nose and ears can pick up sweet smells and perfect melodies, but much less often are our eyes met with the twinkling of different blues, reds, greens, purples, and any other color imaginable. The picture is easily painted in your head and it brings you back to the bitterly cold nights when your hands were wrapped around a steaming cup of hot cocoa while you sat around the brightly lit Christmas tree. Christmas lights have been used for over a century but many people do not know that there is actually an extreme variation in sizes and finishes that can change the entire ambience when used. By the time you’re done reading you will become a Christmas light connoisseur and will be able to use Christmas lights in many other places besides just the tree.

When looking at a Christmas light bulb you can see that it is made up of different parts. There is the top portion (usually wider), which is the light bulb lend, and the bottom portion which is called the bulb base. Bulb bases are responsible for screwing into the electrical light bulb housing/socket so that the bulb will produce light. There are two common types of bulb bases used, one is called the screw base and the other is a pin base. I’m sure you’re already very familiar with the screw base on light bulbs. These are found on your common household bulb and on the bottom of Christmas light bulbs are well. In fact, the pin base is normally only found on fluorescent light bulbs and they plug into a different housing entirely.

Now why was discussing a bulb base so important? Because like light bulb lenses, bulb bases come in different sizes too - which determines which size light bulb can be screwed into the base. There are three common bulb bases that are easy to remember due to a pattern in their name. Each bulb base has a number which corresponds to their base size in millimeters. The first base size is the smallest, about the size of a nightlight bulb, and is called the E12 base. It has, as I am sure you’ve guessed, a twelve millimeter base size. The next size up from the E12 is the E17 base. The E17 has a seventeen millimeter base size and is the size of some Christmas light bulbs and patio lighting. The final base is the one most everyone is familiar with and that is the E26. The E26 has a twenty six millimeter base and fits your standard household light bulbs. So if you have an outdoor floodlight overlooking your garage or backyard it most likely will be sitting in an E26 base. Most household lamps use an E26 base bulb. The E26 base is also known as a medium base.

Bulb bases can be pretty boring since they aren’t the pretty pieces to look at. This brings me to a light bulb lens. The lens on a bulb changes the way that light is projected or displayed. This means that the pretty lights you see all go through a lens. The most common lens on Christmas bulbs is transparent, meaning you are able to see through the bulb. These bulbs also glow very bright and create that nice Christmas feel. The second most common Christmas light look is done using  the opaque lens. These are not see through and do not produce as bright of light as the transparent lens but are still beautiful to observe. The light that is produced by these bulbs is softer and more relaxed than their transparent counterparts. There are also two more lenses that are not as well known but still play an important part in the way Christmas lights look. The first one is a faceted lens and it has a diamond like pattern. These lights are semi transparent and still glow brightly but produce the light in a unique way. Faceted lenses are most commonly seen on LED Christmas lights. The last lens type is called frosted and looks like frosted glass. These shine much more mellow than the other kinds of lensed bulbs and create a calm, relaxed atmosphere.

Maybe now that you’ve read about bulb lenses you’d like to try out some different lens styles which is great! But first you should know how to properly fit a bulb lens so that your light comes out looking as spectacular as you hope it does. In order for a bulb lens to be used correctly it must be measured accurately so it can fit the size bulb that it will be covering. The lenses are measured in inches for both diameter and height. Once you know the dimensions of the light bulb you want to put a lens on the rest follows easily. Bulb lenses play a vital part in how the light shines and what atmosphere is created from the light used.  

When shopping for Christmas light bulbs it can be pretty confusing knowing which bulbs to get for which occasion. But don’t fret because I’m going to write them out for you in a simple, easy to remember way. We will start by looking at the C style bulbs that were created in the 1920’s. These bulbs have a cone shaped, hence the name C style. When beginning to look at bulbs you’ll probably start with a C7 which sits in an E12 base (remember your base sizes!) and is only about an inch and a half tall. This bulb is fairly small but does it’s job well, in fact it is the most common Christmas light bulb around! The next size up is the C9 which sits in an E17 intermediate base and has a bulb height of two inches. It is similar to the C7, but slightly bigger with a larger base size.

The next category of bulbs that we will discuss is the G style bulbs. The G in G style stands for globe. These lights are spherical and look like a mini globe sitting upon a light bulb base. There are four important G style bulbs named G20, G30, G40, and G50. The numbers are important for this style of bulb since they correlate to the diameter of the bulb. Each G style bulb will also sit in either an E12 base or an E17 base. The G20 bulb has a diameter of twenty millimeters, making the G30 bulb have a diameter of thirty millimeters and so on. Since the diameter size of the bulb is in the name, these bulb sizes are fairly easy to remember.

The last few bulbs are much larger than the C style and G style bulbs. These include the T50 (also known as S14), A15 and A19 bulbs. Each of these bulbs fits in an E26 base (medium base), which is your standard household lamp base. The T50 and A15 bulb share the same diameter of 1.75 inches while the A19 bulb is a bit bigger with a diameter of 2.25 inches. These bulbs are noticeably larger than the other bulbs with the A19 being the largest of the bunch - and is known as the size and shape of the most common household light bulb.

You’re probably wondering what you’d need all this information for. Well, since the bulb sizes vary quite dramatically so does the uses for each bulb. Both of the C style bulbs are used in similar  instances with the C9 bulb being used in new areas. The C7 is used in outdoor trees, lining rooflines or walkways, in night lights or electric candles. The C9 is most commonly used to outline roof lines and used in larger outdoor trees as well as bushes. The C9 is also not used in night lights or electric candles but is instead used for parties or retro designs.

All of the G style bulbs are used for the same occasions except for the smallest G20 bulb. The G20 is used for parties, weddings, and small trees or bushes. The G30, G40, and G50 are used for the same occasions as the G20 but in addition to those they are also used as fair or circus lights and overhead patio lighting. The globe style that is featured on these bulbs makes them a great candidate to be party or wedding lights since their design is unique and may create a better visual appeal for the area.

The T50 is similar to the G lights in that they’re used for parties. But they are also a popular choice for patios, signs, and fair or circus lights. The unique shape of the T bulb creates a great patio decoration that many people tend to enjoy. The A style lights are used in places that require larger bulbs to make a space look great. The A15 is used for parties, patios, signs and even deck lighting. It’s larger brother, the A19 is used for parties, signs and deck lighting as well but is also used in household table lamps.

Every light bulb will come with a different diameter than its counterpart. Some will also come with a different base size. Normally when buying Christmas lights you will have the lights arranged already so the base size is normally not an issue to the average consumer. Since the lights have extreme differences in diameters, this will definitely change how they are used and what scenarios are the most appropriate for each bulb size. Different sized light bulbs can make or break the atmosphere of a room that is why is can be very important to know the look you are going for and which light size matches that expectation.

It’s not nearly as complex as it sounds because within the most common sizes of Christmas light bulbs - a C7 always has an E12 base and a C9 always has an E17 base. So you really only need to be concerned about which size is going to work best for your application.

The biggest range in bulb sizes of the same style is found in the G style bulbs. From G20 to G50 there is a thirty millimeter gap that can dramatically change the feel and design of a room depending which sized bulbs are placed. The bulb shapes do remain the same and the light production is unchanged from each size unless lenses are placed on the bulbs. The bulb sizes are just bigger or smaller depending on the needs of the individual.

Learning about Christmas lights and what sizes, shapes, colors and filters are available for them is extremely important if you are looking to set the correct atmosphere in your home, garden, party or any other place you see fit. Although the sizing can seem confusing and difficult at first, once you begin to see the pattern of the different sizes it becomes easier to remember and plan your space. From now on, any party you plan, trees you decorate, or rooftops you line, will look picture perfect due to your vast knowledge of bulbs and which look the best in which area.

So now go check out the vast selection of LED Christmas light bulbs and incandescent Christmas light bulbs that we have available at The Christmas Light Emporium. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help in any way we can!

Comments (4)

Larry Lepthien

I notice that your header illustration shows four different base sizes but the article only talks about the larger three. Perhaps you should mention the E10 base used for the old C6 (series strand) bulbs. Of course these were designed to run at less than line voltage (12 – 14 V.), but they still exist.

Darren Vader

Hi Larry and thanks for the recommendation – a good one too! With so many changes happening in the Christmas lighting space it sometimes is easy to forget about some of the lesser used formats. One thing we try to do is to not talk about items that we can’t help with. One of our goals here at The Christmas Light Emporium is to help folks build – and maintain – their holiday displays. We believe that decorators have an important job to do in spreading joy and creating hope in the world. To that end, it’s always a bummer to talk about a particular item and then have a customer ask us for that item – and… we don’t carry it. In fact, with the e10 bulbs, they are very very hard to find and most (if not all) Christmas suppliers are no longer carrying them. For folks who are looking for e10 bulbs or replacements, I might recommend ebay or more likely, a quick search on aliexpress – some of the Chinese manufacturers are still selling e10 bulbs direct to consumer. Thanks again for the heads up Larry!

Aris Atlas Chase

What are these bulbs called? Thank you in advance.

The Christmas Light Emporium

Hi Aris – WHich bulb are you referring to? If you are referring to the style of the bulbs in our blog post photo, those are all known as faceted bulbs – referring to the faceting of the bulb lens which helps disperse the light nice and evenly across the lens. Does that help?

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