Computerized yule lights draw attention

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Too early to think about Christmas lights? Not if you're planning to upgrade to dancing, computer-controlled displays or other types of LED lights. Until Nov. 17, you can turn in old strings of holiday lights, working or not, to get discounts on new LED lights at Home Depot.

Robert Jackson, electrical department supervisor at the Home Depot in Ohio Township, said performing lights -- computer-controlled strings that flash, twinkle and change colors with the flick of a switch -- are expected to be the big sellers this year.

"Some of them even play music," he said.

At Home Depot, the price of LED strings range from $22 to $100. At the top of that range is Gemmy Industries' Light Show combo pack, which includes several strings of icicles and bulbs containing color-changing LEDs. The big-box retailer also sells strings of 100 tiny incandescent lights for $2.50 and 25 larger multicolored bulbs (think Ralphie's house in the movie "A Christmas Story") for $8. The 70-bulb LED version of those same traditional lights sells for $28.

More than motion sets LEDs apart from incandescent holiday lights. Outdoors, the old multicolored strings can't match the saturated, almost neon colors of LED. In addition to a drop in price compared with last year, the new LED strings have lost that slight flicker that bothered some people's eyes. LEDs also have the advantage of lasting much longer than incandescents and they're less likely to go dark because of one bad bulb, Mr. Jackson said. LED spotlights have one other bonus: Their concentrated light adds sparkle to ornaments, icicles or anything glittery.

Still, some people prefer the vintage look of incandescent bulbs, especially on their Christmas tree.

"They think of Santa Claus and coming down the stairs when they were 9. It's the nostalgia," Mr. Jackson said.


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