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Christmas Bulb

April 25, 2019

C7 Holiday Lights–A Christmas Tradition

What’s a C7 light?

If you’re starting to plan your holiday decorations you may come across the term C7 when referring to Christmas lights.  I  know because I came across this term when doing research for a story on Christmas decorations and initially had no clue as to what it referred to.  With some digging I found a wealth of information about this little light bulb that I now share with you.

C7 Holiday Lights A Christmas TraditionA C7 Christmas bulb is the smaller of the two sizes of traditional Christmas lights; the larger one being a C9.   Larger than the popular little white holiday lights, but smaller than C9’s, these lights are often seen in bright candy colors.  However, you may occasionally find them offered in other colors and decorative styles.

A Little History on C7

C7 Holiday Lights A Christmas Tradition 1Originally manufactured by GE, these bulbs were introduced in 1934 and gradually gained popularity until in the 1950’s they were the most commonly used bulb for Christmas lighting.  What set these GE holiday lights apart from their predecessors was their parallel circuits.  Parallel circuits allowed a string of these bulbs to stay lit even if one of the bulbs burned out.  Prior to the release of this type of product, when one Christmas bulb went bad the entire string went dim.  The resulting challenge was the frustrating and time consuming task of replacing and testing each bulb individually until the offending bulb could be found.  I know what a challenge this can be because as a child in the 60’s hunting down the burned out bulbs in old light strings was often assigned to me.  Many years I had the misfortune of being the Christmas light tester.

Anyway, when shopping for holiday lights, you’re likely to find C7 bulbs available in both solid and see-through styles.  The solid colored bulbs are referred to as ceramic bulbs, while the transparent type, where you can see the filament inside, are termed transparent bulbs.

Which you choose is really a matter of taste, but I would suggest not mixing the two types of Christmas bulbs in your display or on your tree for maximum effect.

A set of C7 bulbs should last you a good, long time.  A life expectancy of 10 or more years is not uncommon for a set of these lights.  The fact that they are intended to be used indoors goes a long way in helping these lights last a long time.  If you need a string of lights for outside decorating, choose a string of the larger C9 type lights instead.  These larger bulbs make a better outdoor show and are insulated to stand up to cold and wet conditions.

C7 lights are also fairly low consumers of energy. They use about 5 watts per bulb which is more than mini lights, but you get far more illumination from C7 type lights.  Anyway you look at it, chances are you won’t go wrong if you purchase some C7 for you holiday decorating projects.

C9 Holiday Lights–A Christmas Classic

C9–The Chrismas Light of the 1950’s & 1960’s

C9 Holiday Lights A Christmas ClassicI bet you didn’t know all those different Christmas lights you see around actually have technical names.  Even though over the years, I’ve seen all kinds of different light strings, it wasn’t until I started researching the Christmas decoration business that I came across the term C9 lights and had need to know just what this light was.

Just exactly what is a C9 light?  Now well informed, I’m happy to help you get in the know as well.  A C9 light bulb is one of the larger size traditional Christmas bulbs.  A Christmas bulb of this type will measure about 2-1/2″ long. Most popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s these lights were and are intended for outdoor Christmas lighting.  As a kid, we used these outside the house and saved the smaller C7 holiday lights for inside use on our indoor Christmas tree

The Bulb that Revolutionized Outdoor Xmas Lighting

C9 Holiday Lights A Christmas Classic 1These bulbs were introduced by GE in 1927 and even though they were expensive they were the lights to have. C7’s were coveted because for the first time ever, when one Christmas bulb went out the entire light string did not go dim with it.  Instead of testing each light in the string to find the dead bulb, now one blown-out bulb could quickly and easily be replaced and the light string was back in business.  This revolution in technical terms was due to the use of parallel circuitry.

Following WWII, manufacturers offered neighborhood contests for decorating with outdoor Xmas lights to boost sales.  Apparently the contests were very successful for the US is hooked on this now widely accepted tradition.

C9–The Christmas Bulb of Choice for the Outdoors

C9 bulbs are ideal for outdoor Christmas lighting. They are insulated so they will stand up to the cold and wet conditions winter sometimes dishes out.  They are also large enough to be seen quite a distance and for this reason work particularly well on large trees.  In addition, they make a good choice for porches, window and eaves. Consider mounting your C9 string over some greenery or garland for an elegant look.