Shopping for a pre-lit Christmas tree? If you’re overwhelmed by the various lighting options, remember that there are two basic light types—incandescent and LED. Each one offers certain benefits, and knowing the difference will help you make a better choice.

Side-by-side photo of decorated Vermont White Spruce trees with LED and traditional lights
Jennifer’s traditionally lit (left) and LED-lit Vermont White Spruce trees

To illustrate the benefits of each light type, we asked three of our friends to decorate two identical Christmas trees, one lit with incandescent lights and the other with LEDs.

1. Cost

Incandescent lights, also called traditional lights or classic lights, are a long-time favorite. Typically, Christmas trees with traditional lights are less expensive than those with LEDs. The main advantage is lower initial cost. On the other hand, LED-lit trees usually cost more but the lights generally last longer and use up less electricity.

Side-by-side close-up photo of decorated artificial Christmas trees with traditional and LED lights
Jennifer’s traditionally lit (left) and LED-lit Vermont White Spruce trees

Jennifer of Décor Gold Design set up her Vermont White Spruce with traditional lights in the living room and her LED-lit tree in the bedroom. She agrees that LEDs have a longer lifespan, but traditional lights are initially more affordable. If you plan to decorate with a second tree, one with traditional lights may be a practical choice.

2. Brightness and Light Quality

Traditional lights produce a clear glow that gives your Christmas tree a timeless, familiar look. Up until recently, LED bulbs emit bluish light that some find harsh and overly bright. Newer LEDs give off a softer light like that of incandescents.

Side-by-side photo of decorated artificial Christmas trees with LED and traditional lights
Randi’s Vermont White Spruce trees with Color+Clear LED (left) and Incandescent lights

Randi of Randi Garrett Design points out that LED lights are energy efficient. But she also enjoyed how traditional lights brought a dramatic glow to her ornaments.

3. Availability and Variety

Trees with traditional lights are widely available at online or brick-and-mortar stores. This means there are more options for you to choose from. On the other hand, some retailers may only have a limited range of trees with LED lights.

Side-by-side photo of decorated artificial Christmas trees with LED and traditional lights
Kelley Nan’s Saratoga Spruce trees with Candlelight LED lights (left) and Clear traditional lights.

Kelley of Kelley Nan placed her Saratoga Spruce trees in her office and dining room. She notes that the look of the Candlelight LED and Clear traditional lights are similar. Kelley adds that she still buys traditional Christmas lights because she can’t find LED lights that are soft enough.

Like with any décor, there are no hard and fast rules to buying a pre-lit Christmas tree. When it comes to traditional and LED, each type has its own set of benefits. Try to compare and see which lights suit your decorating needs best.

Visit Balsam Hill to browse our collection of pre-lit artificial Christmas trees. If you’d like to learn more about light types, check out this Christmas light bulb guide.

Balsam Hill™ Pre-lit Christmas Trees


  1. Your trees and trimmings are so amazingly beautiful! I can’t express how wonderful the quality of everything is in person!

    • BalsamHill Reply

      Thank you so much, Randi. We’re glad you are enjoying our products! Merry Christmas!

  2. If the two trees had had identical decorations the decision as to which is better looking would have been easier to access.

  3. Steve Hankins Reply

    The tree (Noble Fir pre-fluffed with Clear and Colored LEDs) is beautiful and all LED lights work. My issue is with the lights turned on at night you can not see the unlighted ornaments on the tree. I believe the lights obscure the normal view of the ornaments even when dimmed but begin to show up if the room has some daylight that shines on the tree. Also when you use the term “clear” it brings to mind white light not yellow…yellow to me is candle light not clear.
    Thank You

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