Whether you had a rough time putting up your Christmas lights this year or you’re dreading taking them down after the holiday, there’s a solution to your problems: Permanent Christmas lights. Here’s what you need to know.
What Are Permanent Christmas Lights?
Christmas lights look lovely, and who doesn’t enjoy the look of homes festively lit in warm whites or multi-color strands? But not many people enjoy balancing on ladders, clipping lights to gutters and eaves, and all with the thought at the back of their mind that they might spend the holiday season banged up after taking a spill off the ladder, Clark Griswold-style.
But yet, if you left your Christmas lights up year-round, they would not only look unsightly, but they’d also wear out quickly. Christmas lights might be weather-resistant, but they aren’t intended to be left on your home for years at a time.
The solution? Permanent Christmas lights are a kind of residential architectural lighting you install once and use not just at Christmas but for holidays all year round and even day-to-day lighting. Think of it like the smart Christmas lights you might put on your tree, but scaled up for your entire home and left up all year.
The lights are made up of a series of bright LED modules affixed along the soffit, trim work, or both and concealed in specialty plastic or aluminum channels designed to blend in with your home’s color.
If you look closely when the lights are turned off, you can see them the same way you can see soffit vents. But they blend in well enough to look like part of the home, not strings of wires tacked down everywhere.
And you’re not limited to just warm white. Not only are permanent Christmas lights customizable with multiple colors, they can also do patterns, light shows, and are individually addressable for as much holiday customization as you can stand. Check out the video above, showcasing Gemstone Lights permanent Christmas lights to see them in action.
How Much Do Permanent Christmas Lights Cost?
You can take three approaches to installing permanent Christmas lights: professional installation, DIY installation with professional hardware, and DIY installation with consumer-grade off-the-shelf materials.
All things considered, this is the approach we’d recommend if you’re serious about permanent Christmas lights. If you want it done quickly, without you risking your neck on a ladder, and you want tech support and help if one of the modules burns out, then using an authorized installer is the way to go.
There are several companies in the market like Gemstone Lights, which we’ve already showcased above as well as JellyFish Lighting, TrimLights, and MyEverLights.
While authorized installers are sprinkled across North America for all of these companies, you may find that only a few that service your region, which will guide your decision.
Expect to pay about $25-30 per linear foot. Installation for the average American home runs around $4500-5000, and larger homes (or wrap-around jobs on smaller homes with front, side, and back lighting) can cost upwards of $10,000.
DIY With Professional Hardware
Several vendors we listed above, like Jellyfish Lighting and MyEverLights offer installation kits for handy folks. Notably, Jellyfish has great instructions for a DIYer to follow, and if you give them accurate measurements and photos of your home, they’ll help you pick out all the parts you need for a clean DIY job.
You can drop the cost of a professional installation from $4500-5000 down to around $3000-3500 if you’re willing to bust out the ladder and spend a weekend looking closely at your roof. On the upside, you save. And if you’re reading this article close to the holidays when all the installers are booked solid, you’re in luck because you’re the installer.
On the downside, you need the right ladders, tools, skills, and time. And you won’t have a truck on site filled with extra channels and modules to ensure installation delays will be minimal to non-existent.
Considering the potential lifespan of the installation, going the DIY route does save you money, but averaged over time, you’re saving about $50-100 a year over having a professional do it for you.
DIY With Consumer Hardware
Historically, permanent outdoor holiday lighting has been the province of professional installers working for wealthy clients. Not only can you get DIY kits with professional materials, as we highlighted, but the continually falling price of LEDs and consumer electronics has brought permanent Christmas lights to the off-the-shelf consumer market.
In the fall of 2022, Govee, the company behind a plethora of reasonably priced LED landscape lighting, smart LED strips, and other fun lighting accessories, released a very economical permanent outdoor lighting solution.
Available in 100-foot, 50-foot, and 16.4-foot extension lengths, the Govee kits bring the cost to install permanent holiday lights down from thousands of dollars to around $500 for the average home.
On the upside, you save a ton of money, and the system ties in smoothly with Govee’s excellent app and solid smart home integration.
There are a few downsides, though. First and foremost, the product is so wildly popular that Amazon and every other retailer—as well as direct orders from Govee—are sold out. So if you want it for next year, you better keep an eye on the Govee site to get it when you can.
On top of supply issues, not only are you responsible for the installation, but the Govee setup doesn’t come with channels to conceal the wires (though if you were a dedicated DIYer, you could probably rig something up with common aluminum flashing or channels). Further, complex installs with multiple peaks or other variables are trickier because the system is designed to be plug-and-play versus custom to your home. Still, it’s tough to beat the price.
Are Permanent Christmas Lights Worth It?
So are they worth it? If you’re not living the “Christmas Is The Big Show” lifestyle, probably not. Even spending $300-500 on the Govee lights is a lot of money if Christmas lighting just isn’t that important to you.
But let’s say you get out there every year in the cold and string lights on your house, or you pay a local company to get up there and string them for you. It’s easy to drop $300 a year on holiday lighting installation.
Given that permanent Christmas lights should last about ten years with 6 hours of use a day (even longer if you’re not using them daily for holiday or general architectural lighting), it suddenly starts to look pretty reasonable.
In either scenario, you’re paying thousands of dollars (or a lot of unpaid labor) over a decade but only in the permanent Christmas light situation do you get year-round utility out of your investment. No doubt about it, dropping a couple of thousand bucks on specialty lighting for your home is a splurge.
But I can see the appeal—after all, I’ve gotten quite a bit of enjoyment and utility out of my simple Govee smart floodlights. Speaking of that, if you’re not ready to make the plunge into (or write the check for!) permanent Christmas lights, take a peek at why we think smart lights are the easiest holiday decorations. And for an even more economical way to smarten things up, grab a smart plug for your holiday lights.