Shopping for a pre-lit Christmas tree? If you’re overwhelmed by the various lighting options, remember that there are two basic light types—traditional and LED Christmas lights. 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 Balsam Hill Vermont White Spruce trees

Which is Better, LED or Incandescent Christmas lights?

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

1. Cost

Incandescent Christmas lights, also called traditional lights or classic lights, are a long-time favorite. Typically, incandescent light Christmas trees are less expensive than those with LEDs. The main advantage of traditional Christmas tree lights is its 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 traditional incandescent Christmas tree (left) and LED Christmas tree

Jennifer of Décor Gold Design set up her Balsam Hill 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 incandescent Christmas tree 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

How do you tell the difference between LED and incandescent Christmas lights? Traditional incandescent Christmas lights are popular for their clear, warm glow that gives your Christmas tree a timeless and familiar look. Newer LED Christmas lights, just like that of Balsam Hill’s, can radiate the same warm glow of traditional lights that you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.

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

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

3. Availability and Variety

Incandescent light Christmas trees 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.

Kelley of Kelley Nan placed her Balsam Hill Saratoga Spruce trees in her office and dining room. She notes that the look of the Candlelight LED and Clear traditional Christmas tree lights are similar. Kelley adds that she sometimes still buys traditional incandescent Christmas lights because it’s hard to find LED lights with a glow that’s soft enough. Balsam Hill, however, offers a wide array of pre-lit artificial Christmas trees with LED lights that emit a warm, candle-like glow.

Like with any décor, there are no hard and fast rules to buying pre-lit Christmas trees. When it comes to traditional Christmas lights and LED Christmas lights, 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 our in-depth Christmas tree lights guide.


  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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