Handyman: Lots of advances in holiday lighting options

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

Thanksgiving weekend is full of annual “traditions” and one of the most popular is to begin decorating. That generally includes dragging out boxes of holiday lights from the basement to determine which ones still work and what you need to replace at the hardware store.

In the past, most of the indoor and outdoor holiday light options revolved around the good old-fashioned incandescent lights. But today, LEDs have become a staple in the holiday light market.

“Over the past two years we have switched our inventory to around 60 to 70 percent LED holiday lights,” said Mick Hunt from Hunt’s Ace Hardware in Livonia, (248) 474-8700. “The cost has come down for LEDs to about half of what it was a few years ago, and the hours of life output is greater than incandescent lights, so that also makes them popular.”

Hunt said another advantage of using LED holiday lights is that you can safely string more sets together and plug into a single outlet than you can with incandescent lights.

In addition to the rising popularity of LED, he said one of the most popular new lighting options are laser projection lights.

“They are popular because it is the easiest way to light your home’s exterior for the holidays,” he said. “You just plug the projector spotlight in the ground and point it at your house.”

Along with white and colored lights, today there are entire lines of specialty holiday lights you can buy to provide the perfect accent and theme to your decorations, such as lights in the shape of a sphere, candy-cane lights or the ever-popular snowflake lights. You can also find plenty of rope lights in a variety of festive colors to string around the house.

If you really want to save energy this season, you can consider solar-powered holiday lights for the exterior. These lights are plugged into a solar panel unit you can stick in the ground to provide the energy for the lights, which will automatically come on at dark like other solar-powered exterior landscape lighting.

Both WiFi and Bluetooth technologies have entered the holiday lighting market in a big way, and there are now plenty of ways you can control your lights.

Lumenplay,, is an extendable string of LED lights that enables you to create scenes of color and motion, all from your smart phone or tablet device. By using the Lumenplay app and Bluetooth technology, you can setup a personalized light show by choosing color combinations, effects, speed, direction and brightness.

iTwinkle from GE,, also offers a range of different holiday lights and artificial, lighted Christmas trees that you can control using predefined patterns or with voice and music activation via Bluetooth or WiFi.

If you already have plenty of lights and would like to have the ability to turn them on and off without investing in a new set, you can buy a switch from WeMo,, that plugs into an outlet and will enable control from your tablet or smartphone.

No matter which types of lights you choose to decorate with, make sure you do it with electrical safety in mind. Never overload outlets, always get rid of any old, damaged light strings and when hanging lights outdoors, make sure they are plugged into extension cords that are rated for outdoor use.

With so much focus on holiday lights this time of year, it is great to see all the options and advancements available to really personalize your interior and exterior decorations.

For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show With Glenn Haege" on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. The HANDYMAN SHOW can also be heard on more than 135 radio stations nationwide.