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Tech Talk Tuesday: Christmas Lights

Updated: Tuesday, December 3 2013, 12:52 PM MST
Tech Talk Tuesday: Christmas Lights story image

By Lonnie Valencia

If you’re like me, you just spent your life savings on Cyber Monday buying everyone Christmas presents.  Now it’s Tuesday and time to move past shopping for Christmas and start decorating for it.  In today’s tech talk, I'll help you with a sorely needed overhaul of your sad display of Christmas spirt on your front lawn. So grab that little green light checker that never seems to work right and let’s get started.

Let’s start with what you already have in your arsenal of outdoor lights and decorations.  A good rule of thumb is to recycle your lights at least every three years.  If you have a strand of lights that has seen better days, then it’s time to let them go.  Why you ask?  Wear and tear for one!  There has not been one year that has gone by without my ultra steady hands hitting a wire with a staple as my staple gun slipped. It’s happened to all of us.  Now compound that mistake over three years and tell me that you feel confident that cable will not short in the rain?  If the wear and tear issue is not selling you on getting new lights, then let's talk about them simply being out of style.  Your out-of-date lights are not old enough to be considered "retro cool" so lose the look and update.  Lastly,  your old lights could be costing you more in your electric bill.  Updating to new lights can save you quite a bit of money down the road.  If none of what I just wrote persuaded you to buy new lights then, “Bah! Humbug!”

Now on to the fun part... what to buy?  It’s hard to find any decorative lights that are not LED.  LED lights are cost effective as they are cheaper to make, use less wattage to operate, can be grouped easily together, and are much brighter.  The only downfall of these lights are their hue.  They almost seem to give off a neon glow that makes the colors you’re accustomed to seem off or unnatural. Some brands combat that effect by making the lights all white then putting plastic caps on top.  They use the colors you are use to seeing, so now you get the best of both worlds.  You can still get the old school lights on the market, but you will pay a premium at the store.  It may wind up costing you an extra couple of dollars per strand of lights and of course the extra cost in electricity when running them.  If you want to know more about why the LED lights are ruining your Christmas read the “LED stole my Christmas” at the end of the article.

Now that you've updated your lights now it’s time to get some yard decorations.  Right now the most popular ones are the inflatable kind. Find a theme you like and stick with it.  If you are into the Dallas Cowboys, Star Wars, Snoopy, or Disney you can find just about anything to show off your pride.  At this point, you are pretty much done in my book but ,if you need to go the extra mile, then I suggest rivaling those nerds on the internet with the music infused light extravaganza!  A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... this was no easy task.  Now it’s as simple as a trip down to Home Depot and grabbing the right gear to make it work.  Try this little guy for $139 Mr. Christmas Wireless Lights and Sounds.  It already has 44 holiday songs preinstalled ready to go.   

Brand new lights, blowup decorations, and Christmas spirt that can be seen from miles away.  You, my friends, are now ready for Old Saint Nick to stop on by.  Let me know what you like to decorate your house with in the comments below? As always we would love your feedback/suggestions for this or our next edition, so feel free to send your comments to our resident Tech Guy Lonnie Valencia.

LED stole my Christmas
Coming from a photographer background, I love to talk about light.  It effects every picture you take and in this instance it’s effecting your twinkle lights.  So I’m taking a moment to educate you on what is going on with your new LED lights.  See, these new LED lights are brighter in the sense that the light that comes out of them is more intense.  Not to get to technical, but we can measure this light in terms of temperature and they measure that in degrees Kelvin.  Our old lights would give off a temp around 32,000Kelvin.  This light was a nice soft yellow that when put through green, red, and orange gave us what we remember as Christmas lights.  Now with the new LED lights they burn bright white around 56,000Kelvin, changing the base at which all the colors are set. That change alone, can make you feel as if your mind is playing tricks on you as your new lights don’t reflect the memory of what Christmas lights are suppose to look like.  Now your house, lights, and decorations feel disconnected to fond memories of past Christmases, all because of a few degrees of Kelvin.  I find that fascinating!

Tech Talk Tuesday: Christmas Lights
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