Christmas Lights

It’s coming up to the time when I’m thinking about the biannual trip to the loft to fetch/return the Christmas decs.

For the last few years I’ve put quite a lot of lights up, both inside and out, and we normally get a lot of complements from neighbours and passers by who enjoy it.

The outside lights are all LED and draw almost bugger all electricity, I’m still on a fix at last year’s prices (probably the last Christmas I will be) and I’ll have no trouble affording to run them. In previous years I’ve had them on Smart Sockets and turned them on from around dusk to whenever I go to bed, around midnight.

Still, there’s a real chance of energy shortages this winter and I wonder if putting lights up outside might be considered a bit selfish? Am I worrying over nothing?

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Not in my book. Plenty of folks could do with something bright and cheery to look at. R-


There is no price for a good mood.

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We took the opportunity this year to switch everything to battery powered with timers.

But as you newer lights will hardly use anything at all anyway, and if your house is anything like ours, the bigger lights get switched off or turned right down for the Christmas so it’s more a replacement for where the electricity goes, rather than actually consuming more. No harm in running them IMO, but if you’re worried of the optics, swap to batteries.

I’m a miserable bugger at the best of times. I’m not gonna lie, but seeing houses all lit up like ahhh, Christmas trees, just makes me even more miserable :sob:

But on a more serious note, I live in a beautiful part of the SouthWest just a few hundred metres from the sea and on my walks down to the beach in evening I’ve noticed some serious light pollution coming from houses festooned with lights. Ok. I get it, it’s just for a couple of weeks a year and I guess there are folks who do actually like the whole Christmas get up. Unfortunately there are people who start Christmas far to early and carry it on far too long, case in point being my neighbours a couple of doors along who last year strung Christmas lights all over the front of their house and they stayed there until almost the end of March when they were eventually blown down in a gale.

You can probably guess,I don’t have lights up! :joy:

I’m interested in this from an economy standpoint. I’d expect that even with the massively high unit costs people face at present, it’s still cheaper to run off the mains than batteries?

I’ve actually gone the other way and adapted all the battery sets we have with USB battery eliminators which are plugged in to the wall via a USB adaptor and an Ikea Tradfri smart socket (which allows them to come on and off with the rest of the Hue lighting in the room). Only a couple of sets left now where wiring would be impractical (although I have half an idea on one of those!),

Turns out the answer is yes. If anything there are more lit up houses than last year.

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Probably. We did some maths to justify the switch, and it can actually be cheaper too.

What you’re paying for though, is convenience. You don’t need to be near the mains. Battery powered lights will last about a week if used for 6 hours a day. Electric lights will cost a few pence per day (assuming 6 hours of use again). This is per set of lights of course.

So if you’re buying new batteries the costs will add up.

I already have a large collection of Eneloop batteries that I’ve needed less and less as more things have started to come with the own internal batteries that charge with USB C.

To recharge these Eneloop batteries, it’s about 0.8p to recharge two batteries fully. So 6 batteries will cost 2.4p per recharge, which is enough for 100 hours of lights. It will cost 17.5p to use electric powered lights for the same length of time. So for us, it’s 15p cheaper per hundred hours of light time per set of lights. Calculations are based on a standard string of 200 LEDs.

This ultimately of course still winds up drawing electricity, but much less of it. I’m not an electrician so couldn’t explain how it works, but it’s cheaper to recharge batteries to provide 50 hours worth of light than it is to run the mains powered equivalent for the same duration. It’s not just a theoretical math equation either, we’ve been monitoring it since the they went up this week. The batteries indeed costed less than 1p to fully charge two of them from empty. The mains powered ones are costing more than 1p per day (timed to switch off after 6 hours). Both are LED strings of 200 fairy lights. 16 meters long. 8W (80 halogen equivalent).

For outdoor lights, you could consider solar powered ones too and operate them entirely off grid. We should still get enough sun in a winter U.K. to keep the battery fully charged (again assuming 6 hours of use). We’re way up in the north of the Scottish highlands and island and have had no troubles keeping our outdoor solar powered ones on at night. Again, they come on at dusk, and are timed to switch off after 6 hours. Costs nothing in batteries or electrify because solar is free. Higher up front cost for the lights though. The batteries it recharges though, are just rechargeable AA, so if the sun were to fall into a black hole tomorrow, you can always charge them yourself. But we’ve not had to do that yet, and we don’t get much daylight or sun at all at this time of the year.

Standard disposable alkalines will of course cost a lot more to run, but at least you’re not pulling unnecessarily from the grid to keep the lights on. Not that the tiny minuscule of power you’d be drawing either with mains or rechargeable batteries will make a discernible difference at all. You’d have a bigger impact just turning your tv off for an extra hour a day. Or boiling the kettle one less time. Or turning the heating down. Or spending 30 seconds less in the shower. All of which is to say, don’t worry about it. And if you are worried, there are other things you can do to make a bigger difference with negligible impact on your life than not putting the decorations up.

Ah, rechargeables, of course. When I last tried them in lighting (years ago) the appearance of the lights was very dim, almost like Alkalines when they’re about to die completely. I presume this is due to them running at 1.2V rather than 1.5V?

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Possibly? As I say I’m not an electrician, my understanding begins and ends with the maths. The Eneloop batteries are 1.2V and the lights are slightly dimmer, so it could be that yes.