Start by thinking about your overall decorating objectives. Measure the areas where you want to hang your lights to ensure you have enough strands for proper coverage. Also consider your style preferences, budget and the amount of time you have to dedicate to the project.
For indoor lighting, simplify set-up and installation by dividing projects into rooms. Outdoor lighting will need to be considered as a whole, but larger-scale projects can be separated into different zones based on the location of electrical outlets. Remember where the outlets are when planning the number of strands of lights you will need. If you do not have GFCI Outlets installed, consider adding them for extra safety.
Types and Styles
While traditional incandescent holiday lights are still popular, advances in technology over the past few years have dramatically improved the selection of LED lights. LED lights offer many advantages over the traditional incandescent lights, including:
- Energy savings of up to 80%
- A lifespan up to 20 times longer
- More durable and cool to the touch
- More strands can be connected together on one outlet or extension cord
Installation and Safety
In order to create a safe and memorable decorating experience, there are a few simple guidelines that must be observed. First and foremost, be very careful not to overload electrical outlets or extension cords. Typically, incandescent lights have a limit of 500 lights per strand, which means you can connect 10 sets of 50 lights or 5 sets of 100 lights. But when stringing multiple strands together, consult the manufacturer's instructions and do not exceed the recommended number of connections. Never connect different strands of lights together on the same circuit or outlet, such as a C7 or C9 incandescent strand with a mini-light strand, and never connect incandescent lights with LED lights.
Make sure you test your lights to make sure they are working and inspect all cords and wires prior to installation. Immediately dispose of any lights or cords that show signs of damage or wear.
In outdoor environments, wrap a piece of electrical tape around the connected plugs to provide further protection. For simple attachments to a roof, wall or other surface, look for plastic or plastic-coated fasteners, hooks and clips designed exclusively to hold holiday lighting.
- Always unplug the lights when you leave the house or go to sleep
- Automatic light timers can be used to turn your lights on and off at specific times of day
- Do not run electrical cords along high-traffic areas or place underneath a rug
- Always work with a partner when using a ladder to help prevent accidents
- Never place ladders on snow, ice or slick surfaces
After the holidays, you'll want to carefully store away all of your seasonal decorations in a dry place, such as an interior closet. Allow light sets that have been outdoors in wet weather or accumulated moisture time to dry out before placing them in storage. Avoid storing lights and decorations in attics or basements where the amount of moisture fluctuates during the year.
Additionally, keeping incandescent light strands neat and organized can help preserve their life by preventing broken or missing bulbs, damaged cords and messy tangles. As you disassemble, inspect cords and wires for cuts, nicks and other damage. Proper removal of lights will save you considerable time next year when you go to set them up again.
Various types of reels and spools designed exclusively for holiday lights can be purchased. Simply wrap your lights around these devices as indicated and place them in an appropriate storage bin, box or storage bag. If you don't have a reel or spool, try wrapping them around a sturdy cardboard sheet or tube. Be careful not to wrap too tightly as this can put strain on the wires.
UL Listed Lights:
Underwriters Laboratory (UL) is an independent testing agency that verifies lights are safe for use under designated conditions. Look for the UL listing on all your holiday lighting purchases.
For more ambitious decorating projects, lights rated for commercial use can be connected and strung together in longer continuous lengths.
Lighting your home and yard for the holidays can add to your monthly energy costs. Look for more efficient options such as LED lights to cut down on creeping holiday expenses while continuing to enjoy your festive decorations.
Illuminate items that are not easily connected to electrical outlets such as wreaths, holiday flower/foliage arrangements and other decorative accents with the use of battery-operated light strands.
Combine your holiday lights with a variety of decorations designed exclusively for outdoor use, such as lighted sculptures, inflatable lawn ornaments and other unique embellishments for a truly memorable celebration.
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