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With Halloween in the rear-view mirror, it’s the time of the year that makes some cringe, while others rub their hands in pure delight.

The holiday season. And what better way to announce your holiday spirit than with a lavish display of outdoor holiday lighting?

All three locations of Gus Bock’s Ace Hardware have geared up, with stocked shelves full of the newest trends in holiday lights.

What’s Trending?

“The magic word is LED,” says Ben Porter, manager of the Munster location. “Our customers have been steadily switching over to LED lighting for the past couple of years.”

Chris White, manager of Philips Ace Hardware in Valparaiso, took a moment out from his display making to concur.

“We have seen two steady trends,” White says. “One is that many more people are putting up outdoor decorations, and second is that LED lights are the most popular choice.”

Why LED?

“Energy efficient,” Porter says. “LED lights use less wattage than standard outdoor bulbs. As a result, you don’t receive a sticker shock when the NIPSCO bill arrives.”

LED lights may cost a little more on day one, White says, but they save money down the road.

“The LED lights have a much longer lifespan,” he says. “They last much longer, so you’re not on the hunt for replacement bulbs.”

Porter adds that the proof is in the warranty.

“You’ll get a much better warranty on LED light strands than regular (incandescent) bulbs,” he says. “The manufacturers have much more confidence in the newer technology.”

LED lights are also much more attractive, according to White.

“The colors are much brighter,” he says. “Whether it’s blue, red or green, you get a lot more eye-popping color with the LED strands.”

“The cool white color available from LEDs is very popular,” Porter says. “It’s more of a bluish-white instead of the bright, clear. Many people like it because it’s different.”

Another popular trend is laser light projectors.

“They’re easy to set up and maintain,” White says. “We couldn’t keep them in stock last season. We ordered more this year in anticipation of a sales rush.”

There are many options with projectors, including number of colors, amount of motion, and durability.

“A little research will help people to know what they want,” Porter says. “For some, it’s a modern, low-maintenance option.”

Holiday Tradition

For those who prefer the old-school incandescent bulbs, both Gus Bock and Philips have new strands as well as replacement bulbs for existing strands.

“Some of our customers prefer the old-fashioned bulbs,” Porter says. “They’re used to working with them and know what to expect. We carry plenty of supplies in that category as well.”

For some, according to White, it’s a matter of handed-down tradition.

“Many people are hanging light stands that have been in the family for a long time,” he says. “There’s a sentimental attachment. So we make sure to carry every type of bulb and strand out there.”

Both hardware stores also carry artificial trees, garland, wreaths and other assorted holiday decorations, making one-stop shopping a distinct possibility.

Go Pro?

For those interested in professional installation, Darrin Selking, owner of Landscape Illumination, has the answer.

“We decorate hundreds of homes in Northwest Indiana every year for the holiday season,” Selking says. “We have access to the most up-to-date trends, as well as the ability to create unique décors for every vision.”

Selking says the three biggest reasons people turn to a professional is time, serviceability and ability.

“Many people want to decorate, but simply don’t have the time,” he says. “Others have issues with roof lines, ladders and other service issues. And the big plus: we can put up, take down and store your lights until next year.

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