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How To Install Outdoor Christmas Lights

Christmas season is upon us and as we commence to decorate the outsides of our homes with lights and powered ornaments it is important to remember that overloading electrical circuits is a common occurrence at this time of year.

outdoor Christmas light display
outdoor Christmas light display 2

Many people around the world will have their Christmas festivities ruined due to house fires caused by overloading electrical circuits.

In your home, electrical receptacles are connected to other electrical receptacles and lighting. In most cases the most current that an individual circuit can handle is 15 amps.

This is no different for outdoor electrical receptacles, seldom are they on their own individual circuits.

Receptacles used for outdoors should be GFCI style or powered from a GFCI circuit breaker. The receptacles should be housed in a weatherproof electrical box with a weatherproof cover.

Extension cords should be rated for outdoor use and be of the correct gauge to carry the power over the distance required.

current in amps versus extension cord length

Incandescent filament style outdoor Christmas lights can require as much as 10 watts per bulb.

The newer LED style Christmas lights draw less than 1% of the older style. If you use a lot of Christmas lights it is wise to consider using the newer style LED bulbs.

led lights
The newer LED style Christmas lights draw less than 1% of the older style.
cube tap
Cube tap

LED bulbs are safer, and they cost a lot less to operate than older style filament bulbs.

overloaded electrical receptacle

Besides the bulbs themselves, another common mistake is to use a multitude of cube taps in order to power the lights. Electrical receptacles are designed to handle 2 male plugs. Cube taps which allow 3 or more cords to be connected to each of the two electrical sockets of a receptacle can create a hot spot and hot spots lead to fire.

The picture on the right is an electrical connection that is definitely not recommended. If you must use cube taps make sure that they are approved for outdoor use and for the current and voltage levels that you are using.

Inspect all of the electrical cords to ensure that they are not frayed or damaged anywhere along their length.

Extension cord placement is also important. Try not to run extension cords across areas where adults and children will walk. Running cords, even though the distance may be longer, around the perimeter of a yard is a much safer method.

Do not leave lights or other ornaments powered on, if you are leaving the house unattended. Your neighbors will love to see your Christmas lights ornaments and displays all lit up. They will also stand and watch as the firemen attempt to put out the fire in your home.

Electrical fire safety is something that should be watched for 365 days a year. Never is it more important than during the Christmas holiday season.

Have a safe holiday season!