Since this section is designed to educate lets start at the basics. Understanding types of lights. There are several different kinds of lights, and you can do some amazing things with them, so here goes.
Mini Lights Incandescent.
These are the most popular and for the most part the less expensive to buy. Typically 1.5 or 2.5 volt bulbs they usually run on low voltage and plugin with a transformer. Great value for money as you can plaster strings of these all over your plants, trees and house as they can come in 100, 200, 300 bulb strings.
Colours are clear, (sometimes marked as white on the box), red, green, yellow etc. Also available in mixed sets. These lights are very easy to colour as you can paint or dip them in glass paint. The downside of these lights is bulb life. Cheap sets will have you changing bulbs each night.
Christmas C9 and C7 lights
These are the original outdoor Christmas lights. Very popular in America, harder to find here in NZ. They are bigger than mini lights and come in two sizes (see picture). These are shorter strings of lights, in most cases up to 50 bulbs. Great in small trees and around eaves.
LED Christmas lights
These save approximately 80% in electricity over the larger C7 or C9 bulbs. LED's are gaining popularity each year because of this. The other advantages are bulb life. On average up to 50,000 hours! And brightness, LED's are super bright compared to minis.
These are small lights enclosed within a rope of transparent plastic tubing. Christmas Ropelights are generally sold in 6, 8 or 10 metre sets in NZ. Specialist companies sometimes sell it by the metre which can be custom made.
Rope lights are ideal for trimming windows, doors and railings or outlining an entire building. Personally I love them.
Shapes of Christmas lights are usually made with LED lights or ropelights. They are sometimes called ropelight sculptures. The most common shapes are stars and snowflakes, but the lights can also be manipulated to look like candles, faces, animals or even words.
You can purchase pre-shaped sculptures or use rope lights to make your own.
The shape of your Christmas bulbs or string of lights can dramatically update the look of your Christmas decor. Novelty Christmas lights can be elegant or goofy, from simple white orbs to full-sized reindeer shapes, and come in a variety of colors. They are relatively inexpensive (when you compare them to the price of regular shaped Christmas lights) and can be used as indoor lights or outdoor lights and be installed almost anywhere that regular lights can be placed.
Christmas Net lights
These are great for blanketing bushes and trees with hundreds of mini lights at once. Simply lay the net over bushes or wrap it around tree trunks.Christmas net lights make it easy to create uniform illumination in those hard-to-light areas.
Now you can get small star shaped net lights with flashing controllers.
I used these on my fence last year and they looked great. Some people even commented on them.
Icicle lights are meant to replicate the look of icicles hanging from the eaves troughs. These lights come in a strand of 100 or 150 lights, usually in clear, white or pale blue bulbs.
Curtain lights are really just longer versions of icicle lights. These are great to hang over windows, doors or walls. Similar in use to net lights but not as tidy.
Used to highlight trees, walls, fences or other large areas. Low voltage garden lights are great for small areas like a sign or small tree.Security light type bulbs (called par38) are excellent for tall trees or to flood an area with light. Spotlight bulbs can be white, clear or colored, with the most popular colors being red, green and blue.Strategically placed spotlights can provide dramatic contrast against the night landscape.
Shaped bulbs tell a story with light. The bulbs themselves are manufactured in different shapes to change the way the light looks.You can buy strings of shaped bulbs that have all the same shape or you can purchase multi shaped strings that combine a number of popular shapes together. For novelty Christmas lights, the bulb shapes include a multitude of festive themes such as:Christmas trees - Snowflakes - Pine cones - Satin balls - Starlight spheres-Snowmen - Candles - angels and Santa Claus. Plus many more. Shaped bulbs can also work several lights (often LED lights) in one or with motion lights.
Fibre Optic Lights
Basically these have a central incandescent or LED bulb which shines through the fibres to produce a light at the end of the fibre. Some light does shine through and can give a graduated effect along the fibre. Common in novelty lights as well as in Christmas figurines and indoor trees.