LEDs light up Christmas tradition

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 | 6:00 p.m. CST; updated 10:57 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008
The Magic Tree, located on 303 Hickam Drive, has 76,035 lights this season. On the tree, there are 17,850, or 23 percent, LED Christmas lights that are rated to use 80 percent - 90 percent less energy than traditional incandescent Christmas lights.

COLUMBIA — The Magic Tree, an annual holiday spectacle at the home of Randy Fletcher, 303 Hickam Drive in south Columbia, has a bit of a different look this year, thanks to light-emitting diode, or LED, lights. Fletcher said about 17,850, or 23 percent, of the tree’s 76,035 lights this year are LEDs.

LED lights, available through major retailers, have become the rage this Christmas season. The lights are said to last an average of 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and use 80 percent less energy.

Fletcher said he made the partial switch to LEDs because he felt a little guilty about all the energy his tree consumes and because they offer different and brighter colors.

The city’s Water and Light Department hasn’t begun encouraging the use of LED lights because they are rather new to the market, residential services manager Terry Freeman said. He also noted that they’re much more expensive than traditional lights. People often purchase holiday lights after Christmas for only a couple of dollars. LED lights cost about $20 per strand.

There are other advantages to LEDs. They’re less likely to break because they’re made of epoxy, they don’t get hot and, if one bulb in a strand burns out, the rest will remain lit.

“Their reliability is the best part,” Freeman said.

The Magic Tree is located at the home of Randy Fletcher on 303 Hickam Drive. While traditional incandescent lights may cost a few dollars per strand, the energy efficient light-emitting diodes cost $20 per strand.

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