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Date: 14 December 2018. Energy Efficient Christmas Lights.


I absolutely love Christmas. The whole season is lovely. Right now I'm listening to Bing Crosby sing to me about Christmas in Hawaii. It is totally wonderful. The music brings joy to my life. The festive holiday lights always make me happy. I had about 300 lights inside Seaweed. Those Christmas tree lights, even though small, were using a lot more power than I had imagined. Here is how I solved that problem.

Christmas is a time for showing off our spirit. S/V Grace looked pretty last year:


In addition to the covering the tree with lights, I circle the windows.

My home looks festive for the holidays. I have had friends visit and they usually like decorations. One year fellow boater Tina came by to help me put ornaments on my tree. That was a favorite year. It is more fun when there is someone to share the experience with...

This is my friend Tina of S/V Oramae. I met her back in Pensacola. She's a gem.


I bought this set of lights to circle the pilothouse outside. They were attached to eyebolts with twist ties.


Memory Lane: Our boat was in the Fort Lauderdale Boat Parade one year. That would have been back in the early 1960s. There was a lot of booze involved. In those politically incorrect days Fort Lauderdale was known as Fort Liquordale. It was a different era.

Now boat parades are a lot fancier. The boats are incredibly well-decorated. It is fun to watch.

The Madeira Beach Boat Parade has a lot of boats participating. They look amazing!

Aboard Seaweed I concentrate on the interior. That is the part of the boat I see every day. I do put up lights around the windows so that outside folks can see how cute my boat is.

Have I mentioned how much I love my home lately?!?

This is my favorite tugboat. It was a gift from my Baby for me ten years ago.

This tugboat was sold by Lowe's Hardware chain. The boat is called The Robin and reminds me of Robbyn's Gift.

But I digress...
Inside I had fifty lights around the galley window. Another 100 multicolored lights were in the tree and around the window by my dinette. An additional fifty clear lights were in the tree. My tree was bright. What I did not realize was the amount of power those itty-bitty lights were using.

The issue was that my inside lights used 134 watts. Ouch. The outside lights used almost as much power.

I use my Kill A Watt meter to check power consumption. (Amazon affiliate link)

When I saw some lights at Walmart purporting to use far less power I was intrigued.

I bought a couple of packages to test.

Frankly I was concerned. These Christmas tree lights are so tiny when compared with the "standard" LEDs, that I was concerned. Fortunately they are so much more vivid that even though smaller I believe them to be better looking than what I had originally. They are definitely brighter.

One set looks like this:

I can't tell which is clear and which set is multi-colored without powering up the strands.

These are LEDs, and polarity is important. The plug part fits only in one direction. Then the cap part is screwed tight to make a waterproof connection. I would not use these outside though. At a cost of $12 per strand, I am keeping mine inside and out of the weather.

I intend to use these lights for many years into the future.

This is one strand of lights. There are 200 in the set. The lit part extends nine feet.

I bet they would look mighty spiffy on a sailboat.
Sailboats are lucky. The masts are like a Christmas tree!

This is Keith and Janet's Schucker. They named
her Grace. The photo was taken in Gulfport last year.

The problem was that my original Christmas lights took too much power. What boats can manage at a dock differs from when living off the grid. At anchor, having energy efficient lighting is important.

Each strand uses 2.8 watts, which is a huge difference when compared with 134 watts.
My six strands of lights use *At most 16.8 watts of electricity. I believe the little lights look better.

*At most: Because I have the lights set to stay on they use the maximum amount of power. There are other settings where the lights twinkle, fade in and out, and chase each other. I prefer a solid steady light versus the ones that move. That's why I'm using the most power.

What is wrong with these lights? They cannot be piggy-backed onto the next cord. In other words, each light set must plug into its own slot on your power strip. That part is a pain in the transom.

Learning about power boils down
to this: Use less and/or make more.


This is a motorsailor lit up for Christmas.

Someday Seaweed may again be lit up outside too, but not this year.

For now I shall concentrate on making the interior of my home spiffy.

The new lights are one facet of the Improved version of Christmas aboard Seaweed.

What you need to know: These special low-power consuming lights were bought at Walmart. They were located on the bottom shelf near the battery operated and solar powered Christmas lights. Those lights have the same white with green lettering on the packages. I paid $12 per package, which is a lot of money. I absolutely love them though. They are bright, beautiful and the power used is negligible.

As Christmas rapidly approaches I am back at writing my holiday greeting cards. I am late this year. Usually I try to get them out the first week in December. I missed that deadline by being under the weather for about a week. Fortunately I am feeling better and busy playing catch-up.

More upcoming -- I wanted to get this article out so that you too can hunt for these lights. I did not see them online but found the boxes in the local Walmart super center. Good luck, and thanks for reading.

Addendum, dated 17 December 2018. I received an email from Noel. The letter said "I do not see how LED lights could draw 134 watts. That would be almost 1/2 watt per bulb. The bulbs would be burning things. The LED lights that I have use 1/10 of a watt per bulb. 300 bulbs would draw about 30 watts."

Now it's been over ten years since I bought that original set of LED colored Christmas lights from Target. I am almost certain they were advertised as low power LEDs. They were high dollar when compared with regular lights sold at that time. As to the other strands that brought up the total to 134 watts, well, I cannot be certain after this many years if they were indeed LEDs or simply smaller lights.

Original light set

From Noel's experience, mine were not LEDs. Though small they sure did use a lot of power.

Thus, I updated the original paragraph (replacing "LEDs" with "small" for clarity. Frankly, I'm not certain what they were, and too, I have been known to be wrong. Thanks to Noel for catching the mistake. I appreciate that.

I'd love to hear what you do for Christmas decorations at your home?
And, do you send out Christmas cards?

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