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Christmas and Holiday Lights

One way to get into the holiday spirit is to install Christmas lights, figures, displays, and scenes. You can install them yourself or hire a service to put them up and also take them down when the season is over.

There are many places to install lights: windows, doors, eaves, roof, bushes, and trees.

To get some ideas on how to decorate your house for the holidays, check out holiday lighting and displays in different neighborhoods. If a resident is already outside, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you say you like the display, they will probably be happy to tell you about it.

Christmas lights are usually on strings of about eight feet in length. If your home has wooden eaves, you can permanently install small hooks for the light strings. They are small enough not to see during the year and, once installed, make it easy to put up and take down the lights. Plastic clips can be used in other places including shingles and gutters.

Planning and designing a lighting layout for the initial installation will take some time, but it will be easier to install in the following years.

Turn on the lights to make sure they all work before hanging them.

Light strings can be connected together to form a long string. Total power for the connected strings will flow through the first string. As a general rule for incandescent lights, a maximum of three light strings should be connected together to prevent the internal fuse(s) from blowing in the plug that connects to power. Follow manufacturer instructions for maximum number of strings for new lights. Only connect strings together that have the same number of lights per string.

LED Christmas Lights

When buying new lights, consider LED lights. They are brighter and use less energy. Because  they use less energy, you can connect more strings together, and more strings per receptacle.

Christmas Lights Check List

Here are some items you may need depending on what kind of display you would like to have:

Sources of Power for Christmas Lights

Outdoor receptacles are a good source for lights on bushes and trees, and displays on the front yard. Use a receptacle tester with a GFCI button and test these receptacles to verify protection.

Each circuit that supplies these sources should be enough to power lights and displays unless you are planning a massive lighting and display project.

Large Scale Christmas Lights and Scenes Display

If you are planning a massive display with lots of lights, figures, and displays, you may want to hire an electrician to install more circuits or sub panel near or at the front of the house.

Christmas Lights Troubleshooting

If a light string is several years old and many bulbs are burning out or getting dim, it might be time to just replace them. Having a new string of lights can avoid a lot of headaches trying to fix the old ones. Sometimes you can get a good deal during and/or after the holidays.

If none of the lights on a string light up, the fuses inside the light string plug may be bad.

Sometimes either all or some of the lights on a string do not work. Because string lights usually are connected in series, one bad light can cause other lights on an individual string to not work.

Light string bulb sockets usually have a built-in shunt that provides power to the lights downstream if one light fails. This makes it easy to locate and replace a bad bulb. Sometimes the shunt does not work properly, causing a number of bulbs to go out.

If you have string lights with miniature bulbs, buy the LightKeeper Pro tester. This tester is several tools in one.

Christmas Lights

Installing Christmas Lights

Christmas lights should always be free from damage and be plugged into GFCI protected outlets.

Light Socket Plug Adapters

Be careful if you use light socket plug adapters. The outdoor lights are most likely not GFCI protected. If you use these adapters, make sure you use a GFCI adapter.

Light socket adapter

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