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Fairy Lights - The Differences and What You Need To Know

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Fairy Lights - The Differences and What You Need To Know

Christmas fairy lights. 

Hands holding tangled up fairy lights

So many to choose from! 

How do you start trying to even decide which fairy lights to buy when there's rows upon rows of them in almost every shop you go into? 

Over the years we've had many discussions with our customers in the Christmas barn about the differences between sets of fairy lights.   

The fairy lights that we stock, and also the price difference between our Christmas lights and those available elsewhere. 

When you're not quite sure of what you're looking at -

because all the fairy lights look the same

- it's so easy to go by price alone.   

But then you're left disappointed when those cheaper fairy lights haven't made it to the New Year :-(

So let's start by looking at the different types of fairy lights that we stock.

What's the difference between all of your sets of fairy lights?

We currently stock six different styles of fairy lights: string; glow worm; firefly; icicle; branch and battery operated.  Let's take a look at each of them in more detail below.

Fairy Lights Style 1 - LED String Christmas Lights

Image of LED string Christmas lights fairy lights

The most traditional of the sets of Christmas lights that we stock in the shop.  These are a long string of fairy lights with quite big spaces between the bulbs - a bulb is placed every 10cm - this makes the bigger sets very long indeed! 

These all have a green cable colour, and are for indoors and outdoors use.

There's a timer function on all of these sets that go for 8 hours on, and then off for 16 hours.  These fairy lights also have multi action lights, up to 8 modes, so you can set them to dance depending on your mood!

There's 3 different colours to choose from: warm white; multi colour; and cold white.  Each colour has five different sizes available, and the product listings will tell you how long each of those sets is.

 

Fairy Lights Style 2 - Firefly Christmas Lights 

Fairy lights blog post - showing example of firefly Christmas lights

The most popular Christmas lights sets that get stocked in the shop. 

Not quite as long as the LED string Christmas lights talked about above.  These fairy lights have a much closer spacing in between the bulbs - a bulb is placed every 2.6cm, which makes these sets much shorter.  To show what a different this makes, a 600 set of LED string Christmas lights has a length of 59.9 metres, whereas these 600 firefly Christmas lights have a length of just 15.5 metres. 

These fairy lights all have a green cable colour, and are for indoors and outdoors use.

There isn't a timer function on any of these sets.  These are permanently on twinkle mode, created by every other bulb flashing on and off extremely quickly.

There are colours available in the firefly Christmas lights collection.  Each colour has three different sizes available, and when reading the product listings, the details for each specific length of fairy lights is listed.

 

Fairy Lights Style 3 - Glow Worm Lights

Fairy lights set showing the glow worm lights

Brand new for 2021 are these newest sets of Christmas lights to be stocked in the Christmas barn this year!  Completely different from everything else that we stock, both in look and colours.  The bulb itself is shaped just like a glow worms' tail, much more rounded than the conventional fairy light bulbs.

Similar to the firefly Christmas lights, these are a short string of fairy lights with quite small spaces between the bulbs.  Whereas the bulbs were 2.6cm apart on the firefly Christmas lights, these are even closer - a bulb is placed every 2.5 cm.  This makes a difference to the length too.  A 520 set of glow worm lights measures just 12.9 metres. 

These fairy lights  have a green cable colour, and are suitable for indoors and outdoors use.

There's a timer function on all of these sets that go for 8 hours on, and then off for 16 hours.  These fairy lights also have multi action lights, up to 8 modes, so you can set them to dance depending on your mood!

There's two different colours to choose from: pastel and holly jolly.  Each colour has three different sizes available, and the product listings will tell you how long each of those sets is.

Fairy Lights Style 4 - LED Branch Lights

Fairy lights blog post showing the LED branch lights on a Christmas tree

The most unusual set of fairy lights that we stock in the shop.  Instead of being one long string, these are several strands (8 usually) coming down from a central electrical point.  This gives a waterfall style look, or can be used to decorate the lights down the tree, instead of round.  We use these fairy lights a lot in our Christmas lanterns.

These are a dewdrop style of light, which means that the micro bulb is laid into the string, rather than sticking out like on conventional sets.  There are 15 micro bulbs on each string of lights.   The bulbs are spaced 10cm apart. 

These have a silver cable colour, and are suitable only for indoors use.  These aren't suitable for outdoors.

These LED branch lights also don't have a timer function like the bigger sets of fairy lights.  They do however have a static mode (the lights stay on all the time), a flashing mode (every fourth bulb flashes), and off.

There's just the one colour of these, warm white, and they are only available in the one size.

 

Fairy Lights Style 5 - LED Icicle Christmas Lights  

Fairy lights blog post covering LED icicle Christmas lights

The most evocative of the White Christmas that we all dream of!   The LED icicle Christmas lights - making your house look like it belongs in Norway!

These are a string of fairy lights with strand coming down every few centimetres at a 90 degree angle.  These 'bits' of fairy light that dangle down are what forms the icicle element of these lights.    The lengths of these icicles will vary every two or three strands to give the effect of dripping.  The bulb spacing on each of these strands is 8cm.

These all have a white cable colour, and are suitable for indoors and outdoors use.

There's a timer function on all of these sets that go for 8 hours on, and then off for 16 hours.  These fairy lights also have three different snowing speeds!

There's two different colours to choose from: warm white and cold white.  Each colour has three different sizes available, and the product listings will tell you how long each of those sets is.

 

Fairy Lights Style 6 - Battery operated lights

The most useful of the sets of Christmas lights that we stock in the Christmas Barn. 

 These can vary quite widely in design, pattern, length, number of bulbs etc, so the best thing for these lights is to look up each product listing individually for the technical details.

The one thing that they do all have in common though is that none of them require electricity to work - they all run off battery power.  Most of these fairy lights run on AA batteries, the most commonly available sort, but some will require AAA batteries.  Again, each of the product listings will give you details.  These run from 6 bulbs right up to 50 bulbs. 

These are great for using intertwined with garlands, wreaths, on fireplaces, or on the staircase bannisters.

I love battery lights as you can put them anywhere, regardless of the need for an electrical socket.  The downside is that the light they emit can be slightly weaker than the electrical counterparts.

 

That's the breakdown with differences and similarities of the sets of fairy lights that we stock.  There's a comparison table down below so you can see at a glance how the fairy light sets all stack up against each other.

 

  String

Glow

Worm

Firefly Icicle Branch Battery
Indoor Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Outdoor Yes Yes Yes Yes No Some
Timer Yes Yes No No No Some
Multi Action Yes Yes No Yes Yes Some
Colour Cable Green Green Green White Silver Varies
Lead cable Length 10m 10m 5m 10m 8m Varies
Bulb Spacing 10cm 2.5cm 2.6cm 8cm 10cm Varies
Life of Bulbs - no. of hours 8,000 8,000 8,000 8,000 8,000 Varies

 

I had wanted to write in detail about why there's such price variations in Christmas fairy lights between the different shops, but I've already written loads more than I intended!  So below, I'll just very quickly run through the eight main differences between cheap Christmas lights and those that cost more.

What makes the prices of fairy lights so different?

The reasons why prices vary so much between shops are affected by three factors.

The first few reasons are to do with the technicalities of the fairy light sets.  Details like: bulb size; bulb brightness (also known as the wattage); lead cable length; thickness of wire; timer functions; and whether they're suitable for indoors or just outdoors use.   

 

The second set of reasons is to do with the supplier:  packaging choices; guarantees provided; quality of marketing; are they factory or third party wholesaler?

And the third set of reasons is around the seller.  Me.  How much of our costs do we have to recover?  Costs such as business rates, staffing, display sets, packaging all play their parts too.  You don't get the same Christmas lights experience in Asda as you get given here at the Copper & Holly Christmas Barn.  

I will write a separate blog post around this, as it's a very interesting subject, just click on the link to view.

Many thanks for reading, and comment below, are you a warm white, cold white or a bright light kinda gal?!

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  • Annabelle Summerfield
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