In “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” Clark Griswold set the bar pretty high when it comes to lighting up a home for the holidays. But what would it take to create in “real life”? And how much would it cost you? Hint: better hope your holiday bonus is more than a subscription to the jelly-of-the-month club.
Donald Williams, master electrician and CEO of Greenbulb Electrical in Colorado Springs, CO, estimates it would cost anywhere from $16,000 to $25,000 to have this done professionally. That breaks down to $3,000 for light rental, $3,000 to $11,000 for installation, and another $6,000 to $8,000 for new exterior circuitry capable of handling the electricity for all those lights. Controllers for motion control and synchronization to music can cost $600 to $1,500 per week to rent (or more if your house needs more than one). And all of this could increase your electric bill by hundreds of dollars for the month.
The DIY approach could save you a lot of cash. Homeowner Greg Osterland in Wadsworth, OH has decorated his house with 25,000 LED lights (the same number the Griswolds used) for the past three Christmases, and was able to achieve the look for around $5,000 (cost of lights and electricity). He says he pays only $30 to $40 extra on his electric bill to run the lights six-and-a-half hours per day. The downside? Installation may be free, but it takes about eight weeks, countless clips and help from family and friends to set up the lights.