Commercial vs. Retail: Which Holiday Lights are Best?

Many of our Vancouver Christmas light installation clients wonder about the differences between retail lights that can be purchased at your local hardware store and commercial grade LED holiday lighting. This article will unwrap some of the key differences between these two types of Christmas lights so you can make the best choice for your display!


Price is usually the first thing people notice when comparing commercial and retail lights. Commercial lights come at a higher cost than those purchased at stores, but this is for good reason. Commercial lights are made to last, and you will get many more seasons out of them than retail lights. As you will see below, commercial lights are of a much higher quality so while the initial investment is higher, the cost will even out in the long term.

Bulb Design

Bulb design is one of the main differences between retail and commercial grade lights. Commercial-grade lights are made with vinyl, making them shatterproof. These lights are also manufactured as one piece, meaning the bulb cannot unscrew from the socket. While being unable to replace the bulb may seem like a disadvantage at first, water and debris entering the socket are one of the main reasons for light failure. This means that a one-piece design makes the lights much more durable.

Light Cycle

Commercial-grade lights offer a superior visual output to retail lights. This is due largely in part to their respective light cycles. While all LED lights cycle on and off many times per second, commercial-grade lights do this twice as fast as retail lights. Commercial-grade lights are “full-wave rectified” while retail-grade lights are “half-wave rectified.” This means you are more likely to notice the flickering of retail-grade lights as they cycle on and off.

Cord Quality and Design

Another key difference between commercial grade lights and retail lights is the power and extension cords. Commercial grade cords are thicker, making them more waterproof and safer for outdoor use. These cords are much shorter than retail cords as well, meaning they will not tangle as easily and have fewer potential failure points. Both the thickness and the length of commercial cords make them more efficient at conducting electricity, cutting down your energy costs.

Commercial Lights and Professional Installation

If you are considering having your Christmas lights installed by a professional Vancouver Christmas light installer, your lights and power cords will be specifically designed and cut to fit your property. This means you are not paying for any additional lights and cords, and you have full control over the customization of your display. Due to the custom nature of professional commercial light installations, your property will have a much cleaner and more dazzling look than a DIY retail display would. Even Brighter Holiday Lights can offer you a consultation, including the sampling of our commercial grade lights, and a fully customized installation for your property.