LED C7 and C9 Bulb Buying Tips for a Retro Christmas

green Christmas light lit up

There’s only 119 days to get your holiday Christmas lighting planned, purchased and installed. With tree lights, interior décor lights as well as innumerable outdoor lighting opportunities, you want to make sure your string and replacement bulb supply can handle any creative impulse.

For baby boomer traditionalists, who remember Christmas lights from their childhood, the C7 and C9 type bulbs shine bright in our memories. Whether on the tree or outlining the house, these bulbs didn’t just produce points of light like many small format holiday lights today. They illuminated a large bulb surface area that produced a bold array of festive light.

Today, you can still buy both C7 and C9 incandescent individual replacement bulbs or strings. You also have the option of LED C7 and C9 in both single bulbs and strings.

The LED option offers both significantly lower energy costs and much longer life than incandescent. However, before you scoop up an arm full of LED C7 and C9 strings or bulbs, it’s important to understand how to shop for them, especially if you want them to replicate the brightness of the traditional incandescent.

The table below shows C7 and C9 incandescent watts-per-bulb compared to two different LED options on the market.

C7 Incandescent = 5W

(Brand 1) C7 LED = 0.37W (3 diodes per bulb)

(Brand 2) C7 LED = 0.96W (3 diodes per bulb)

C9 Incandescent = 7W

(Brand 1) C9 LED = 0.45W (5 diodes per bulb)

(Brand 2) C9 LED = 0.96W (5 diodes per bulb)

To get a brightness level comparable to an incandescent C7 or C9 you need to purchase LEDs with a watts-per-bulb of at least 0.96 watts. Brand 2 above meets this requirement.

It’s possible you like the C7 or C9 shape but don’t need the high brightness level. Brand 1 in the table gives you softer illumination plus a traditional bulb shape.

The important point to remember: there can be a big difference between brands in watts-per-bulb for the same shape bulb. Look closely at the specifications to make sure you know what you are buying.

You can also see in the table above that number of diodes does not necessarily indicate the same wattage. It all depends on the types of LED diodes being used by the manufacturer.

It’s interesting to note that the Brand 2 LED option for both C7 and C9 are rated at the same 0.96 watts. The 7/8” diameter (C7) and 1-1/8” diameter (C9) provide way more space than required for LEDs. The brightness of the C7 and C9 is not constrained by bulb size, so it’s possible for both to have the same light output. In fact, much smaller LED bulb sizes can produce brightness levels higher than either C7 or C9.

If you can’t resist the nostalgia for the Christmas lighting of 40 to 50 years ago, you can still enjoy it with C7 and C9 bulbs driven by energy efficient, long lived and very 21st century LEDs.

Shop for Christmas Light Bulbs Now

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featured image © Thomas / Flickr Commercial License

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Dave Burtner

Dave has been active in the lighting industry since 1994. Formerly a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and certified by the National Council On Qualifications for Lighting Professionals, Dave now writes blog posts, lighting tips and provides lighting product assistance for the Topbulb website.

7 thoughts on “LED C7 and C9 Bulb Buying Tips for a Retro Christmas

    1. Bodger says:

      My local hardware store still stocks the C6 series string bulbs, but they’re out of most colours. They still have plenty of yellow ones, however. I don’t know when these were made, but they appear to be of recent Chinese manufacture.

  1. Jason Scott says:

    I cannot believe that Christmas is so close, yet so far away! I love the look of these retro styled Christmas lights and want to get some that I can use. I love the way they look, and am excited to put some up.

  2. Daniela Adams says:

    I’ve always loved the way these lights look, but I never knew what exactly they are called! Now I know what to buy for the Christmas decorations this year 🙂 I am so excited! Thanks for the helpful info, I am saving this webpage in bookmarks!

  3. Ivy Baker says:

    I just bought my first home and I want to get some good lights for Christmas. So, I like that you talked about how LED lights cost the least amount of money and them last a long time. That sounds like a good option for my first Christmas in my home.

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