November 6, 2020

As we get closer to the holidays, I am getting a lot of questions regarding how much it would cost to do a Christmas light pixel display. With so many factors involved it’s hard to provide an exact estimate.

So, to help with this question, I did some research and pulled my own numbers to help break down the costs of the display and to make better sense of it.

Original Display Setup & Costs

With the experience of working in the lighting industry, I was able to utilize that knowledge to select the right pixels and equipment to use for my own personal Christmas display. Not to mention, having a small house meant small start-up costs.

So, to help better understand and explain the costs break down, I went back and pulled up the receipts for all of my original purchases. To help save money, I was able to use a computer that we had at home. Once I broke down the costs it came to about 400 pixels and an average of $1.34 per pixel.

I created a new sheet for 2019 and updated the information of what was purchased for 2019 and the costs of it. This was the year I had added the Falcon controller which is able to manage up to 16,000 pixels. I don’t have that many pixels but if you plan on adding more pixels down the road it can help to have a controller that can handle that amount.

Now, for 2019 I was up to 1600 pixels and my cost per pixel went down to $1.12….getting closer to:

1 Dollar Per Pixel

As I started reading more online, there really a lot of different thoughts on the cost breakdown but the most common that I found was the dollar per pixel standard.

It does make sense to factor your costs this way and gives you more of an accurate idea of what to expect. Of course, like any generalization, it’s not 100% accurate, but it’s a good starting point.

Just like most projects, if you’re able to do some of the things yourself, like creating your own controller box or drilling out pvc pipe, this can help you save on the costs.

Another piece I would like to note is that during 2018 & 19, I was able to purchase the pixels at a lower cost for the tariffs went up. When I went back to purchase more some of the cost had jumped up to almost 30%. That unfortunately, adds to the dollar per pixel amount.

2020 Display Additions

For 2020, I had purchased more pixels (at a higher cost) and even added additional props to add to the Christmas display. Once I totaled up the existing costs and the 2020 additions the average cost per pixel had dropped to $.98 per pixel.

Calculating Your Costs

There are a number of different factors to consider such as the size of your home, your display, and what you’re able to do yourself if you wanted to. But to help guide you in figuring the rough estimate of costs I have a couple of suggestions.

Generally, getting started with a Christmas display, the most practical approach would be an outline of your house. It’s easy to do and you can get a lot more out of your display this way. First, I would measure your roof line and the front side of your house where plan on setting up lights. Then, decide on your pixel spacing.

For smaller spaces and close neighbors I would recommend 2 – 3 inches in between. For larger spaces you can stretch it to 4 inches between each pixel. Looking at a pixel stand with the desired distance and how many feet your working with in your outline should give a rough estimate of how much lighting you’ll need. This will give you a good starting point in costs of a display.

Then, deciding on the controllers and equipment you may need will add more to your costs. You can always do less of an outline and more of a matrix of pixels. This would give you less pixels and help reduce the costs.

With more of a do it yourself approach will help bring your amount to be lower than a dollar per pixel. It just depends how much you want to do on your own and what you want to accomplish.

If you’re wanting to expand your display every year be sure to invest in the controllers that can handle more pixels.

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