Home Improvement

Your Guide to Christmas Lighting

Close up of Christmas lights: Guide to Christmas Lighting

It is getting closer to that time of the year again. Christmas is just around the corner. You have already decided that you want to decorate your home this year, but you are not sure how to do it. You are hoping to begin buying decorations now before the prices go up around the holidays. You have looked online and, in a few stores, but they all look the same to you. Once you have the lights, you are not sure how to plug them up. That many lights plugged up all at once cannot be safe, can it? Here is a Christmas Light Guide to help you decorate for the holidays this year.

Tips to Get You Started

No Overloading Sockets

Most people hear about the importance of not overloading electrical outlets and extension cords from the time they are children. If you have a nine-foot extension cord, you can plug up to three sets of lights that are nine-foot-long to the cord. Sets can be varied by a cord, and you can use more than one cord to decorate your home. It is important, however, that you do not overload the extension cord.

Plug Them Up First

Plug your lights up before stringing them on your home or tree. This can let you see if you have bulbs missing before you must deal with them hanging. It can help you make sure that the lights are distributed properly as well instead of having them all in one place.

Surge Protection

Consider using a surge protector to plug your lights into. This can help prevent overload. It also protects the lights from spikes of voltage and can keep them burning longer.

Replacement Bulbs

You must be using the same voltage and type of light when you replace lights that have burned out. You cannot use a fifty light set to replace a thirty-five. This is because a thirty-five uses 3.5 volts where a fifty uses 2.5. Using the wrong type of bulb can lead to major problems.

Decorations

Christmas lights are a great way to decorate for the holidays. Decorating can be fun and can even become a family tradition that you do with your family every year. It can provide you with beautiful decorations and family bonding time. What you do not want is to add to the stress of the holidays. Here is some information that can help ensure you are prepared for any challenge you face.

Decorating the Tree

The Christmas Tree is perhaps the most well-known symbol of the holidays. Decorating a tree is a symbol of the Christmas spirit. However, making sure that the tree is gorgeous and tasteful can be difficult. There are ways to enhance the beauty of your tree while making the process easier on yourself. Here are some tips to help.

Make Sure You Bring Spares

Finding the perfect lights for your tree is hard enough. When you finally find them, you do not want to have to try and find them again. Especially if you procrastinate and wait to put the tree up. It can be difficult to find the same lights again. Make sure that you purchase replacements that match your tree, just in case, and keep them on hand.

You should always buy a few extra strings of lights to make things easier for yourself. If a string goes bad, there is nothing to worry about because you have spares. You also want to make sure that you have bulbs available. Using bulbs from another set of lights can increase the burnout of the lights you are using. This can increase the hazards associated with decorating in general.

Test Your Lights Before You Use Them

Everyone is probably guilty of decorating the tree before plugging in the lights. One of the most frustrating things in the world is to have the tree fully decorated, plug in the lights, and realize that there is a string that is not working. To prevent this from occurring; plug the lights up first and make sure they work before you put them on the tree. You can also use a tester to check the bulbs to avoid having to redecorate the entire tree.

Light it in Sections

It is also a good idea to avoid lighting the entire tree at one time. Instead, make sure that the tree is evenly lit. To do this, hang lights one section at a time and fix things as you go. You can consider doing an S or wave pattern to add a little flare. No rule says you must wrap lights around your tree.

Light the Yard

Decorating outside may seem overwhelming but when you do you can easily have the best-decorated home in your neighborhood. Decorating outside does not have to be stressful. If you use the right technique and the perfect decorations it may be fun and easy.

The first thing you want to do is check the lights and ensure that they are safe to use outdoors. To do this check for a UL tag located at the end of the string of lights. If it is marked as indoor/outdoor it can be used outside or inside. Lights that say “Indoor use only” should not under any circumstance be used outside the home. Lights or decoration not approved for outdoor use can lead to fire, electrical shortages, and burnouts when used outside.

After you check that the lights are approved for use outside, starting with shrugs and/or bushes is usually easiest. Mini lights are a good option if you are looking to decorate bushes and the process is like decorating your tree inside the home. Make sure that you are wrapping and draping lights in a way that they are distributed evenly. An S pattern can provide excellent results. You may even consider using net lighting. With these lights, you cast them over the shrug and/or bush and then pull them back when the holidays end.

If you have more trees in your yard than you do bushes and/or shrubs, decorating them can add to the beauty of your décor. Start at the bottom of the tree and work your way up. Trunk lights are a good choice, but mini-lights work as well. Once the trunk is light, move to the branches and leaves. You can use mini lights or C7 strings to light up the yard. Stakes and clips can also be used to light up the sidewalk and/or driveway.

Roof Lighting

Safety

It is easy to get wrapped up in decorating and forget the importance of safety. You must ensure you are using the correct extension cords when hanging lights on the roof. Make sure that the electrical outlet is protected using a GFCI. Lights on the roof are likely to get wet at one point or another and are exposed to outside elements.

Lights must be approved for use outside. It is also important that you remember if the lights trip a breaker, you need to reduce the load on that circuit. Simply flipping the breaker is not going to fix the problem.

Buy the Right Amount of Lights

You want to make sure that you are buying the right lights for your roof. Mini lights are not commonly used for roof decorations because they put off extraordinarily little lights. Icicle lights and C7/ C9 strings are the most common lights used for the roof. They provide bright lighting and the common home is going to need around four strings at a minimum.

Test the Lights

You also want to make sure that you are testing the lights. It does not matter if you hang each string perfectly. All that work was for nothing if the lights do not work when you plug them in. You must test your lights before you hang them. Look for bulbs that need to be replaced and fix them before you hang the lights. Do not patch worn wires. You can use a bulb tester to find a faulty bulb if the string is not working. Testing the lights can not only save you frustration later; it can ensure that your home is gorgeous for the holidays.

Hanging the Lights

Staple guns are not the way to hang lights on your roof. This is extremely dangerous. Staples cannot only damage your roof; they can harm you. If you want to hang lights on your roof, use clips to hang them. Shingle tabs are good for mounting lights around the home. Gutter clips are good if you are planning to hang icicles on the gutter. All-in-one clips are good if you are using many different decorations and lighting options for the roof. Make sure that the clips are no more than one foot away from each other.

Environmentally Friendly

LED technology that saves energy is a thing. You can decorate your home and still be kind to the environment. If your bulbs burn out, you can buy LED replacements. This will help the environment and save you money on your energy bill. You can even buy items that will control when your lights turn on and off so that they are not turned on twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Maintaining the Lights

Holiday decorations fail. They are known for being unreliable. Christmas lights are going to need maintenance from time-to-time. If you experience problems with the lights, its important to know how to deal with the problem at hand.

When Lighting Fails

There are specific steps you can take when the string will not light up. The first thing you want to do is make sure that all the lights are plugged into a power source. Next, make sure that you check the fuses for the lights. If the filament is out, the fuse needs to be replaced. There may be times that it is as simple as spreading the prongs on the plug to make sure they are contacting the circuit. Third, plug the lights into a current and run a finger along the top of each bulb. If the light turns on when you are touching a bulb, it signifies a short in the circuit. Replace the build to fix the problem.

If this does not work, make sure that the light sets are plugged into each other correctly. You want to make sure that no more than two sets are plugged into one another. If you are using an extension cord, make sure that you are not overloading it.

You can also check the fuse on the extension cord. If the lights still are not working correctly, check if any are burning brighter than the others. If this is happening, that means that anywhere from eight to fifteen of the bulbs are burnt out and need to be replaced. Make sure that you are not replacing the bulbs with the string plugged in. This can cause a surge and will cause the new bulb to burn out.

 

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