With Thanksgiving recently and the holidays approaching, you may be planning on hanging your outdoor Christmas lights. If you are, it is important to know and understand the tips on how to properly hang them.
Use the Proper Outlet
To begin with, safety first! Your source of power should come from a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet, otherwise knows as a GFCI outlet. We recommend this type of outlet because it will shut the circuit down if there is an over-current. If you don’t want a GFCI outlet, a qualified electrician can permanently install one outdoors for the holiday seasons. Another alternative is, you can buy a portable outdoor unit from your local home store for less than $20.
Be Cautious When Installing Exterior Lighting
Going along with safety, we recommend using a good ladder when installing your lights. You should also make sure you secure them with insulated holders, not tacks or nails. Don’t install your lights on trees that come in contact with power lines. Before installing your Christmas lights, it is a smart idea to make sure all of your bulbs are working properly.
Always Choose Waterproof Lights
When you go shopping for your Christmas lights, there is a variety of lights to choose from. The most important tip to remember when shopping for your lights always purchase waterproof or water-resistant lights with a tag marked underwriter lab (UL). This means the lights meet national industry standards with the American National Standards Institute. Second, when you’re buying Christmas lights to use outside, make sure they are rated for outdoor use. Never use indoor Christmas light outdoors.
Keep Extensions Cords Out of the Way
When using extension cords, make sure they are rated for outdoor use (just like your lights), and keep the connection above ground, snow, and water. Avoiding high-traffic areas is the safest idea. Tape cords across walkways, and use the correct length needed to travel to your lights. You don’t want your cords to be too long so they pile up and created walking hazards.
Using Miniature Bulbs
An economically friendly option for outdoor lighting is the “miniature,” which costs less and consumes less power than the classic outdoor light string. These lights can be used around the perimeter of your home, as well as in trees. In most scenarios, the miniature comes in strands of 50 or 100. The strings run in series, which means if one bulb or socket fails, you can lose a whole section.
Another positive aspect of miniature light is that most of the bulbs have a shunt inside of them to keep the entire string of lights lit if a bulb filament burns out. The key is to quickly replace the burned-out bulb. The shunt will also allow the rest of the light to remain lit, but it will increase the voltage in the rest of the bulbs, reducing their lifetime. With miniatures, you get what you pay for, so get a quality set of lights, and don’t connect more than three sets of strings.
Using C7 or C9 Bulbs
If you are looking for a more traditional holiday light, you will want to use a C7 or C9. These are the cone-shaped lights you’ll find most often in home improvement and convenience stores. The difference in these lights is size and wattage, with C9 being a little bigger and easier to see from a distance. Both options come in frosted or clear color bulbs and are great for illuminating both your house and trees.
You can buy these in strands of 25 bulbs or larger strands of 100 bulbs. The 25-bulb strands can be connected (daisy-chained) up to a maximum of three strands; 100-bulb strands should be connected separately. Don’t connect them! The C7 and C9 strands use a standard screw-in candelabra base for easy bulb replacement. The strands are connected so if one bulb fails it only affects itself. Buying light strands with inner fuses is a great idea to prevent excess current on the strands.
Using Animated Lighting
Animated lights are great for Nativity scenes, as well as reindeer and angel displays. Animated lights are made of wireframes outlining different shapes and scenes, and they are surrounded by mini lights in different color variations and patterns.
Using Landscape Net Lighting
To light shrubs and bushes, net lighting is a great way to go. Net lighting is a mesh of interconnected mini LED lights that can drape right over your shrubs like a blanket. This stops you from having to weave light strings in and out branches!
Using Shimmer Spheres
Shimmer spheres come in shaped and circular formations, like snowballs, or stars and striped formations. They are made up of many lights in different sizes. You can even find some that twinkle. Your house will be shining with holiday cheer for the whole block to enjoy.
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