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Electrician’s Guide to Christmas Lights Safety

Fire is a real danger when it comes to decorative lighting.  With the holiday season upon us, our Westphal technicians want to remind everyone about a few simple steps to keep you safe during the holiday season.

Christmas Light Safety

As obvious as it may seem, checking the condition of your lights is to be taken seriously. Before you climb up the ladder, examining the lights for broken sockets, loose bulbs, and damaged wires will ensure that the decorations stay lit the entire season and most of all, remain safe to use.

Broken or exposed wires can lead to a potentially flammable short.  Don’t tie your light strings in knots and use appropriate ties or hooks to secure them to your house or fence.  Although Clark Griswold bravely used the stapler to attach his light display, this doesn’t mean you should.

Use only lights tested and approved by Underwriters Laboratory or Intertek as suitable for outdoor use.  Each of the light strings and boxes should be clearly marked for the appropriate use.

Appropriate Outlets

Plugging outdoor decorations into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet will provide added protection against electrical hazards. GFCI will cut the power when the electricity comes in contact with water, which is very common during winter months.

If you require additional outlets to be installed outside, contact our licensed experts to help you with this task.

Extension Cords

Choosing an appropriate length ensures that the cord can reach the desired location without being stretched or pulled, which could lead to damage or overheating.

Make sure that any connector pieces are placed off the ground to protect them from snow, rain or dirt finding its way into the plug, creating a hazard. Don’t run extension cords under rugs or coil them tightly.

Don’t overload. Distribute your light strands among multiple extensions cords as each cord comes with a limited wattage rating. Generally, it is recommends linking no more than three strands of lights, but it also depends on their length.  When using the LED lights you can extend the number or strings that can be connected in-line.

LEDs vs. Incandescent lights

LED lights are known for their energy efficiency and lower electrical load compared to incandescent lights, which makes them our recommended option for holiday lighting. LEDs use significantly less energy than incandescent bulbs.  If you are looking for a very large holiday display, using LEDs will offer significant energy savings.

LEDs also have a much longer lifespan compared to incandescent bulbs, which will help you with purchasing a lot less strings each year. To extend the life of your holiday lights and for improved fire safety, consider a programmable timer.  This also helps regulate energy use and reduce cost as you can set them to turn off late at night and turn back on at dusk.

The most important rule to make sure you have a safe and beautifully lit holiday is to assure that the loads on the circuits are correctly balanced and that you are not overloading them. double check that you also use appropriate and approved types of outdoor lights.

If you have any questions or concerns about your electrical system, please contact us here at Westphal.  We want to make sure that your holiday season is safe and perfectly illuminated.



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