12-14-11. Clark Griswold wouldn't be impressed.
This is actually the 3rd set of lights that I've installed on our house this year. I've put the same set of icicle lights on the house for the last 10 years, and they were becoming more and more of a pain each year. I had to spend more and more time getting them to work each time I put them up.
I found a pretty good deal on LED lights (plain white big C9 bulbs), so I figured it was time to retire the icicle lights. I wasn't switching to LEDs to save energy, but I was interested in them since they basically never burn out. Obviously the bulbs are a little more expensive, so they must have cheaped out on the wiring and connections. The lights looked great on the house, but within a week several sections of them had gone out. I spent some time fiddling with them and checking each bulb, but didn't have any luck.
I headed back to Lowe's and checked into their return policy. No problem there. I purchased regular incandescent C9 lights, which appeared to be better made than the LEDs I had previously purchased and installed. Back on the roof, I start taking the LEDs off and installing the new lights. The first new strand I opened had a couple broken bulbs, broken clips, and some of the sockets were completely detaching from the wire. Ugghhh. I finish taking off the LEDs and repacking the new lights I had just purchased. Back to Lowe's. Luckily, Lowe's is 5 minutes away, and the return line was short.
I nearly decided to give up completely, but I wasn't going to let the lights win. I headed to Big Lots and bought some cheapo icicle lights. They all worked right out of the box, and they look fine to me. I left the mini LEDs on the trees in the front yard. There is quite a bit of difference in color between the two, but I'm trying not to let it bother me.