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What is a Fiber-Optic Christmas Tree?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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A fiber-optic Christmas tree is a type of artificial decorative tree that is typically used indoors and meant for display around the celebration of Christmas. This type of tree can be made in a number of different ways, and may range from a plastic tree that uses optical fibers to provide lighting for the tree to a multitude of optical fibers arranged in the general shape of a tree to create an abstract impression of a tree using light. A fiber-optic Christmas tree typically requires less maintenance than other types of artificial trees, and may require less power as well.

There are many different ways in which a fiber-optic Christmas tree can be designed, and a number of different manufacturers that make them. In general, however, these trees are typically pre-lit using optical fibers, sometimes called fiber optics, to provide lighting for the tree. Optical fibers are thin cables that transmit light and other forms of energy signals throughout them, using different levels of reflection to allow the light to escape only where it is intended to do so. This allows a tree to be designed using optical fibers to light the tree in specific points or to provide overall lighting throughout the fibers.

One of the most common types of fiber-optic Christmas tree is an artificial tree with plastic limbs and “needles” that is pre-lit using optical fibers. This type of tree is generally similar in shape to an actual pine tree, with limbs and needles made from metal and plastic, from which other ornaments can be hung. Optical fibers are placed through the tree and designed to emit light only at their tips. One or more light sources is then used with the Christmas tree to illuminate the optical fibers, and the tip of each one provides lighting for the tree, fairly similar to traditional Christmas tree light bulbs.

The other common type of fiber-optic Christmas tree consists entirely, or almost entirely, of optical fibers and does not use metal or plastic to create artificial pine tree limbs. This type of tree usually has a base and central pillar, similar to the trunk of the tree, which can be illuminated as well and from which hundreds of optical fibers extend. These are designed to provide illumination throughout their length, rather than only at their tips, and are arranged to create the overall shape of a pine tree. The entire shape of the fiber-optic Christmas tree consists of light, and it can even be designed to change colors while illuminated.

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Discussion Comments
By LisaLou — On May 24, 2012

Some of my co-workers love to decorate their office space for the different seasons. Many of them that decorate for Christmas will have a small fiber-optic Christmas tree on their desk.

These are small and easy to move around and it does add some charm to their work space. For some reason, I have never been a big fan of the fiber-optic trees.

I don't have a real Christmas tree every year, but even if I use an artificial tree I like to decorate it with the traditional string of lights, garland and ornaments my kids have given me.

I see a fiber-optic tree as more of a modern design, and an evergreen tree as being more traditional. I guess I am old fashioned when it comes to Christmas, and like more of a traditional look.

By myharley — On May 23, 2012

I like to have more than one Christmas tree in my house during this season. I have a big pre-lit artificial tree that I like to use for the main tree.

There are a couple other spots in my house where I like to decorate with a small fiber-optic tree. These are easy to set up and even though they aren't a traditional Christmas tree, I think the light they give off is pretty.

My husband says our house looks like a Christmas tree shop, but I love having this festive look. There is something warm and appealing about having a lot of trees with lights on them scattered around your house.

By sunshined — On May 22, 2012

Our family has always decorated a real Christmas tree every year. It is a tradition for us to visit a Christmas tree farm and choose the perfect tree.

One year my husband wanted to skip this and just put up a colorful fiber-optic tree. I told him there was no way we were going to use a tree like this.

I know a real Christmas tree can be kind of a mess, but it is a tradition that I look forward to every year.

I love the smell of the pine needles and enjoy knowing the tree is not artificial. It seems like you see more fiber-optic trees in the store all the time, but I intend to stick with a real Christmas tree.

By julies — On May 22, 2012

My mom has a white fiber optic Christmas tree that she has used for several years now. This is a small tree that she sets up on a table or stand so it is off the floor.

She got tired of getting out her big artificial tree every year, but still wanted something to celebrate the season.

She likes how easy and convenient it is and enjoys the fiber optic display. It is much different than the big tree she used to decorate, but I can understand why she doesn't want to mess with it.

All of her Christmas decorations were stored in the basement, and it was a lot of work to haul everything upstairs and set up. Now it only takes her a few minutes and she is all set.

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