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Which mini Christmas lights should I buy?

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Why is the price of similar mini Christmas light strings so different? Which mini Christmas lights should I buy?

These are questions that we get asked quite often. Let me explain both at the same time.

The price of mini lights and any type of Christmas light string is determined largely by the number of components and size. Christmas light strings are made out of bulbs (a manufactured assembly mainly of glass), copper wire, and insulation. The insulation is made from petroleum and since the cost of petroleum is high, so is the cost of insulation. So the more the mini lights string uses of any or all of these, the more it should cost.

If you are comparing 100 mini light strands, the most common difference is the spacing between bulbs. The most common commercial grade mini lights have 6 inch spacing between bulbs. So a 100 mini light strand would be approximately 50 feet long. That is a lot of copper wire. By going to a string with 4 inch spacing, you would save approximately 17 feet of copper wire. This should save a fair amount of money, but they will cover a smaller area of whatever you are decorating. If you are trying to get maximum coverage, you will want to stay with the larger spacing. Also, if you are connecting sets of mini lights together, use 100 bulb mini light strands instead of 50 bulb mini light strands. You are paying for the extra plugs just to connect more of them. Also, each connection is an opportunity for moisture to get in and short out your lights.

The next consideration is the thickness (called the gauge) of the wire. The gauge of the wire is given by a number. The larger the number, the smaller the wire (this seems counterintuitive and has led many people to buy inferior lights, thinking they found a bargain). The gauge of the wire is an important consideration. The thicker the wire, the more current the lights can handle before overheating. This comes into play when connecting several strands together. While all lights should be controlled by a fused plug, do not rely on this as a safety measure. Ask your sales representative how many Christmas lights can be safely connected together. The thicker wire is also more durable, and there is a lower failure rate of the lights from the trees flexing in the wind, vandalism or just normal use.

Now, what size of spacing is best for me? In our business, we are usually decorating trees – some of them quite large. The amount of power available for each tree often determines how many lights can be installed. For this example, let’s suppose I have enough power to put 6 strands of 100 mini lights on a tree (600 mini light bulbs). If the mini lights are spaced closer together, I can cover less of the surface area of the tree. To get the best look, it is usually best to get the higher spacing.

Why we carry the mini lights we do.

We are first and foremost a decorator. The lights we sell are the same ones we use in our decorating business. For the first 14 years of our business, we purchased lights from the wholesalers that serve this industry, but we had a difficult time getting the quality, spacing and durability we wanted. We found our best supplier was a small Christmas Light importing company in New Mexico. In 2005 we purchased that company and moved it to Arizona.

We do not carry the “closer” spaced mini lights, because we have found the larger spacing allows us to get more coverage on the trees and gives a better look. Also, our mini light wire is 22 gauge while many of our competitors is 24 or 26. When you buy from us, you are assured of getting the best. After all, it’s what we use in our own business and in our own homes.     

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