LED Full Wave Christmas Lights

May 1, 2008

Unlike traditional incandescent lighting technology, LED lights are not constantly on. That is, all LEDs flicker or turn on and off at a very high rate of speed. This is one of the reasons that they are so much more efficient, but it also can cause some undesirable effects in the appearance of the lights. Currently, there are two different types of LED Christmas tree lights on the market: 1) full wave (rectified); and 2) half wave (non-rectified).

Full Wave LED Christmas Lights

Full wave technology is not really new to LEDs. However, the majority of LED holiday lights on the market do not utilize full wave technology. “Full wave” is a term that is now being commonly used to describe sets of LED Christmas lights that are fully rectified. Because a single diode produces a current that flows in one direction for only 1/2 of the AC cycle. An LED set which utilizes a rectifier, creates a current that flows in the same direction 100% of the time. The visual result is that the LEDs no longer appear to “flicker.” Although the LEDs are still actually “flickering”, they now are turning on and off at a rate of 120 times per second, which is not detectable by the human eye. A full-wave, or fully rectified LED, has a few advantages:

  • It produces between 30-40% more light output
  • Colors appear brighter and truer
  • Has no visible flicker, even in windy conditions, which are common in outdoor Christmas lighting environmentsHalf-Wave LED Christmas tree lightsIn contrast, a half-wave (non-rectified) LED light set, only has a current flowing 1/2 of the AC cycle. This means that the LED is turning on and off or “flickering” at a rate of 60 times per second – this is so fast that the average human eye cannot detect it. However, some people are more sensitive to it than others, and if the LED product is moving, the flicker may become more visible. Those who are sensitive to it find this to be an unattractive feature of LED string lights, and will want to make sure to purchase Full-Wave LED product.Whether or not you should choose a fully rectified LED holiday light, or a standard 1/2 wave light for your Christmas or holiday decorating, depends on the application, your sensitivity to the flicker, and price. (Fully rectified LEDs are usually a bit more expensive.)