how to convert mini x-mas lights to LED

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Old 11-05-12, 11:53 PM
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how to convert mini x-mas lights to LED

I have a pre-lit x-mas tree i want to convert to LED. I'm assuming there is more to it than just replacing the bulbs with LED ones. I can;t seem to fins any tutorials on it, so i was curious if its possible, and what i need to do.
 
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Old 11-06-12, 03:23 AM
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Welcome to the forums! First, it's Christmas, not xmas. You would need to replace the light strings with led strings, unless you can find led bulbs that would fit the sockets and fill the voltage requirements of the input. Any good reason you want to go with led's for such a short season?
 
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Old 11-06-12, 09:45 AM
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thanks chandler.
I prefer Xmas because i don't like to associate the holiday with any religion (Perfectly fine if others do). Also, i prefer the shorthand writing/typing of it.

I would like to replace the bulbs with LED ones for a variety of reasons. They're brighter, don't get hot, cost much less in energy/power, they're much less prone to breaking/don't break, and also with the way things are headed those mini lights will soon be extinct and I wont be able to find any replacement bulbs for my tree when a bulb does go out.

I was looking for a better way to replace them without having to take all the wires off my tree, put all new wires on, cut and solder multiple strands together-which I'm unsure if that would work.

So, the fit and voltage are the only 2 things i need to be aware of when replacing the bulbs? I read somewhere that you need to be aware of resistors too. I appreciate the input, as I would prefer to do this the right way than just taking a swing in the dark at it.
 
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Old 11-06-12, 03:30 PM
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X-mas is an ancient Greek way of writing Christmas. Either way the holiday is BOTH a Christian and a secular holiday and has been for some two thousand years.

Replacing the mini lights on your tree with LEDs will be an adventure to say the least. You would have to determine the wiring method now used and then whether or not you could substitute generic LEDs in the same wiring scheme. You then need to be concerned with the voltage and current requirements of the different color LEDs you use. Finally, you would then have to devise a power supply that output the proper voltage AND limited the current to what the LEDs required. Unlike incandescent bulbs that are inherently self limiting when it comes to current LEDs have very specific current requirements and that makes the interchangeability with incandescent bulbs problematic.
 
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Old 11-06-12, 06:51 PM
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I think that the easiest and cheapest route is to buy LED mini light strands and replace or ignore the existing strands on your 25th of December tree.
 
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Old 11-06-12, 07:03 PM
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I suggest buying an LED illuminated tree if that is what you want. It will be less expensive and certainly easier unless you are looking for a project.

LED's and incandescent bulbs both produce light and that is where their similarity ends. A regular olde fashioned winter celebratory conifer tree light is a simple piece of wire that gets hot when you pass electrons through it. A LED is a modern semi-conductor that is much more finicky about the power required to reliably make it work.

Unfortunately there is no standard socket or power specification for xMas confier lights so finding replacement bulbs for even traditional lights is problematic let alone LED replacements. The lack of standardization means it's not economical for someone to manufacture plug-n-play retrofit LED bulbs for old conifer light strings. If you really want to re-invent the wheel it can be done and it's not terribly difficult but it is repetitive and would certainly cost more than just going out and buying an LED light string.

If you wish to pursue it there are online calculators to help you figure the resistors needed but first you need to get a power supply, choose your LED's and your wiring plan. Traditional holiday tree lights are powered by alternating current (AC) while LED's require a direct current (DC) power source. The resistors required will depend on the voltage of the power supply, the LED's and how they are wired. It's very basic analog electronics but it is electronics, not replacing a light bulb.
 
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Old 11-25-12, 05:52 PM
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I busted out my tree tonight and looked at the tag on the plug. it says 125vac 5a 625w.

I still haven't found an easy solution, so i think i may have to go out and but blue LED strands, tape the bulbs, paint the strands black and re-wire the tree. I just hope the paint wont flake off (my tree is black, so green/white strands wont work).
 
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Old 11-25-12, 06:07 PM
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The paint will probably flake off but depending on the strings you get RIT fabric dye can be used to dye the plastic.
 
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Old 11-25-12, 06:27 PM
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i keep everything!

so in looking through the box i found my receipt for the tree and the instruction manual. in case this helps at all, the manual says to replace bulbs with 2.5v only. (the fuse is a 3amp 125volt)

Ive never heard of using rit dye to dye plastic. Do you have any suggestions on how long for it to be in the dye? if i tape the bulbs will they dye too if i submerge them? do i have to do it section by section taking care to not get the bulbs wet? thanks for any input!
 
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Old 11-25-12, 06:32 PM
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I have restrung a few elements and they are not fun to restring. The payoff for Led's is about 20 years, and in my opinion, not worth it. Keep your current light strings for as long as possible. If your tree uses screw-in lights they make retrofit bulbs that run about $30-40 for a bag of 25.
 
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Old 11-25-12, 06:36 PM
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the bulbs in the tree are push in. I already replaced all the bulbs on the tree with blue ones, but the blue paint is chipping off the bulbs. I guess i'll have to replace them again.
 
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Old 11-25-12, 07:35 PM
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Try using commercial grade strings. I have some that are as old as 5 years old and look exactly like the strings I bought this year. Plus the heavier wires and locking/twistproof bulbs are a big plus.
 
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