How to Buy an Artificial Christmas Tree
Selecting an artificial Christmas tree can be tricky business, especially for first-time purchasers. Some considerations are similar to purchasing a natural Christmas tree, such as height and width proportions to your room and what species of tree you want! But artificial Christmas trees have a different construction than natural ones, require care to make them last season after season, and some folks are concerned the safety aspects. Going beyond the aesthetics, let our experts guide you in choosing the artificial Christmas tree that is just right for you.
Why buy an artificial Christmas tree in the first place? Here are some great reasons:
No worries about allergies on pine needles; no messy needles to pick-up
No watering needed, no water spills
Cost efficient—it lasts for years
Lights are professionally installed
Tree is delivered right at your doorstep; no lugging required
Practical, easy and fast set-up
Wide variety to choose from
Now, what factors should you consider in choosing the right Christmas tree?
Considering the Artificial Christmas Tree Safety
Our article on Christmas tree safety describes what safety features to look out for when purchasing an artificial Christmas tree. Look for the "UL Listed tag", which means the tree has been tested for safety measures such as fire risk and electric shock. Most quality artificial Christmas trees are sprayed with a fire retardant and will be marked as such on the box or a tag. When in doubt, always ask a company’s customer service representatives.
Single Pole versus Frame Trees
Single-pole trees will usually come in sections and have hinged branches; these sections connect by snugly fitting the poles into each other. Trees up to 15 feet tall usually come in sections. For larger trees of commercial use, there is the option of a frame tree, wherein there is a cone-shaped steel frame with branches attached to the frame. This secures the tree to the ground. Sometimes you can find a residential tree on a frame construction, but most of our customers prefer the easy set up and realistic look of a single-pole Christmas tree with hinged branches.
Steel versus Plastic Christmas Tree Stands
In general, plastic bases should be avoided due to possible bending or breakage. A steel base is preferred because it supports the weight of the artificial Christmas tree and is designed to withstand some movement without falling over.
Children, animals, and curious adults might give your tree a tug, and single-pole trees are designed to have a little “give” to them to permit this. Tug hard enough on any Christmas tree and it will fall over, but an X-frame stand that holds a single-pole tree will keep your tree and your family safe.
Easy Set-up and Storage
Most artificial Christmas trees come with hinged branches these days, although you may find some are assembled differently. Hinged branches are the best – we know, because we make our Christmas trees this way! These branches naturally fall open as soon as the poles are fitted to each other, and all you have to do is fluff the tips. Break-down is the opposite process. Check whether the trees are designed with a hinged construction so they assemble and breakdown without difficulty in minutes.
Before you purchase, ensure that there is a warranty. Most quality artificial Christmas trees will come with some form of a warranty. Things happen to trees, even right out of the box: Missing bulbs, a section that got damaged during shipping, a string of lights that refuse to turn on, no matter what promises you make it.
The rule is, the higher the mA rating, the brighter the lights shine. Light bulbs have a milliamp (mA) rating between 170 and 200mA.
Ratio of lights to height: Experts say that a full Christmas tree with 80-100 quality lights per foot is high quality. A 7.5 foot tree will feature 600 and 750 quality lights, for example.
Light spacing: The rule is that the larger distance between the lights on a mini light string, the more superior the quality of the light string. A good indicator of quality of Christmas lights is when there is 8-10 inches of space between each lamp. 8-10 inches between the lamps means that there is enough lax wire to safely secure the Christmas lights to the branch tips and to ensure even light distribution around the tree.
Of course your needles must look realistic.
Most artificial Christmas trees are made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) needles, and many are made of a mix of PVC and PE (polyethelyne) needles. The difference in quality PVC tips ranges, however. Quality PVC needles are put up by gluing two or three plies of PVC together. Two or more ply boost the strength and firmness of the needle. In storage, PVC needles must resist being crushed. In other words, the needles have to look great when taken out of the box.
PE is a durable, moldable plastic, which makes it great for injecting into a mold and producing a life-like replica of a real tree species. If you want your branch tips to look like a real Fraser Fir, choose a Frasier Fir artificial Christmas tree that has PE needles. The process for making PE trees is expensive, which means a higher price tag. More PE needles means you spend more money on your tree. To give trees a realistic quality while keeping price down, we make our trees with a mix of high-quality PVC needles and PE needles. The PE tips are in the front for the show of realism, and the PVC needles are in the back of the branch, acting as filler. This also creates a full look and hides the pole.
Keep this checklist in hand when you’re weighing your options, and you’ll know when you’ve found the right Christmas tree for you!
Browse our entire collection of artificial Christmas trees right here