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Holiday Light Reading
I heard in a conversation last week that California experienced holiday brownouts when icicle lights were first introduced, since they consumed a lot more power than the less-dense Christmas lights that people had been using. I don't know if that's true, but I do know that if I'm going to decorate for the holidays, I'll want to pick up a few strings of the new LED lights, designed to be much more power-efficient than traditional strings. They also don't emit heat, making them a lot safer to use on surfaces that could catch fire.

As a side note, the only light string that I currently have is a set of Dilbert lights that I got as a gift a few years ago. I can't think of any situation where strings of glowing Dilberts and Dogberts would be appropriate.

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I think they'd be great at an office holiday party where the management is so out of touch with pop culture that they wouldn't get it.

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I didn't realize I'd be getting a cube... will they ship it out to Austin for me to install into my office? :)

I purchased a set of those LED lights recently....

Mainly to cut them up for use in a project. I found them unpleasant when plugged into the wall - They're 3v LEDs wired in series to the AC, which gives them a near-subliminal-level flicker that was unsettling, but only became really apparent when they moved (even slightly).

I suggest you take a set out of the box in the store and plug them into the wall to see what I'm talking about - The demo lights in the front of the display I bought mine from were hooked up to batteries.

Re: I purchased a set of those LED lights recently....

Thanks for the review... I've noticed that flicker before on other AC-based items; I would expect that the lights are using an inverter, since LEDs can't pass current in the opposite direction, but even with that, you'd get a 120Hz sine wave.

Of course, if there was no inverter, then you'd get a 60Hz on/off cycle with the LEDs unlit half of the time. That sounds like a headache-in-a-box.

I bet you could setup a circuit with a high-frequency switching power supply and get something more stable, but that would also add to the cost of the chain.

Re: I purchased a set of those LED lights recently....

The box I bought was @$10, I bought it at a local Big Box Store (Meijer) - No inverter - In fact, no electronics of any kind, other than the LEDs themselves - If I remember correctly, they just had enough of them in series that it equaled out to two loops of 120v, one wired the opposite direction of the other.

The LEDs were way too high of a consumption for the project I was using - I wound up using Battery-based LED lights from Big Lots (I think the chain is called McFrugal's, on the west coast, Odd Jobs on the east) that were in small 3v sets - I suggest you take a look at them if you're in the market for this sort of thing.

But then, I doubt you're trying to light up a costume for a crazy aunt who dresses like a christmas tree....

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