There's a huge variety of Christmas trees on the market today, from very poorly constructed ones to those of the highest quality, and understanding the differences will help make your purchasing decision easier. The most important components to consider when deciding what kind of tree you'd like are the way the branches are attached to the trunk, branch strength, branch density, the type of plastic used and the quality of the needles, the light quality, and the stand. Below we'll explain these components to give you more information to decide which artificial Christmas tree is right for you.
You'll find three different ways that branches are attached to the trunk on artificial Christmas trees. The cheapest for the manufacturer, and most difficult to assemble and disassemble for you, is the type where the branches are inserted into the trunk one by one. Not only is this time consuming and often a real pain, trying to sort out the branches and find which one goes where, but it also requires you to take the lights on and off each time you assemble and disassemble the tree. The second type of branch attachment is more costly, but makes your tree far easier to assemble, and provides a much fuller look. In this method the branches are attached to the trunk of the tree with hinges. This allows you to simply stand your tree up, and pull down the branches. The lights are already strung, so all you have to do is plug them in and you're done.
Finally, on giant artificial Christmas trees, the frame is made of circular steel frames. Because these frames are so large, the branches cannot be attached prior to shipping the tree. These branches are attached to the outside of the frame after it is stacked. However, the lights are already attached to the branches and simply need to be plugged in.
The second component of a Christmas tree branch is the branch strength. Again, in this area you most often get what you pay for. All of our artificial Christmas trees at Santa's Quarters have a high level of branch strength. We have a HUGE selection of Christmas ornaments in our store, and our trees normally have at least twice the usual number of ornaments displayed on them. One of the primary reasons we refuse to carry lower quality trees, is that our ornaments would often fall off and break, and the branches would sag, producing a skimpy look. You can be sure that all our Christmas trees come with high quality, strong branches that will easily hold your ornaments year after year. The same cannot be said of trees sold in discount stores.
The last component of artificial Christmas tree branch construction is branch density. Although this can be a qualitative issue, in some cases it is not. Cheaper trees will tend to have less branches, and will generally look like cheap trees, but high quality, realistic looking trees come in various styles, from very dense to less dense. However, a good quality tree with less branches will have a layered rather than chopped-up appearance. These layered trees with lower branch densities are great for hanging large Christmas ornaments. So although branch density can be an issue of quality, the appearance is most important. All of our Christmas trees at Santa's Quarters with lower branch density were designed that way, for the use of particular decorating styles. What you should stay away from are the cheap trees with a choppy appearance.
The remaining components of artificial tree construction are the material the trees are made of and the design of the needles, the lights, and the tree stands. These days most artificial Christmas trees are made of either PVC or PE, and with each of these materials there are varying levels of design quality. Like material, the quality of light strings used on pre-lit trees also varies greatly, as does the material and quality of the stands.
The majority of artificial Christmas trees on the market today are made from PVC (poly-vinyl-chloride), PE (poly-ethylene), or a combination of the two. Up until very recently, most trees were made exclusively from PVC. The needles on traditional pre lit artificial Christmas trees are cut out of compressed sheets of PVC, whereas the branches and needles PE artificial Christmas trees are made by filling a mold made from a real tree. While PE trees do look more realistic up close, there are advantages to both types.
First, not all PVC or PE trees are made of the same quality. Color and shape vary significantly. Cheaper trees made of PVC have unattractive ends, while cheaper PE trees are made from less attractive molds. PE trees are even easier to set up than PVC trees, requiring just a bit less fluffing. However PE trees should not be stored in a hot attic. Because the needles are thick, they can become deformed by extreme heat. In PVC you can also find a variety of colored Christmas trees.
Like every other part of an artificial tree, the quality and quantity of Christmas lights are different from manufacturer to manufacturer. All of the artificial Christmas trees sold at Santa's Quarters are made with only the highest quality lights. Unlike light strings on cheaper trees, if a bulb goes out on one of our strings, the rest of the string will remain lit. The number of lights preferred on a tree is largely a matter of personal preference, but we've created a Christmas Decoration ToolSet that will give you a great average for unlit trees. All of our pre-lit trees are very well lit, but some have more lights than others.
Without a tree stand made specifically for artificial Christmas trees, your tree will be useless. Often times cheaper Christmas trees come with cheap, plastic stands that do not offer enough stability, especially if you have children or pets in your house. All of our trees come with sturdy, metal stands that will last as long as your tree!