How to Prevent Electrical Overload With Christmas Lights

Decorative Christmas lights are a major part of the holidays for many people. Adding a few strands of lights to a Christmas tree is a popular option, but some opt for covering the exterior of their house with these colorful lights. Good-natured competitions can even arise between neighbors to see who can install the most over-the-top lighting scheme. An unfortunate risk when attempting Christmas light installations both big and small is electrical overload. The tips below will help you learn how to prevent electrical overload with Christmas lights, keeping your decorations shining all through the holidays.

Steps

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    Use low-wattage Christmas lights. This is perhaps the most crucial step you can take in reducing the risk of blowing a fuse using Christmas lights. LED Christmas lights are widely available in a range of different styles and colors, and use around 20 percent the amount of electricity that standard incandescent lights use. This will dramatically reduce the loads on each electrical outlet as well as saving you money on your energy bill.
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    Inspect your Christmas lights for exposed wiring. Another quick way to overload a circuit is by hanging Christmas lights that have frayed or exposed wiring. Christmas lights that are hung outdoors each year weather a lot of abuse, and thus tend to deteriorate quickly. Check each strand for exposed copper or aluminum wiring or places where the outer insulation is beginning to fray.
    • Minor frays can be patched over with electrical tape, but this should not be adopted as a long-term solution. Strive to replace frayed Christmas lights before next season.
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    • Christmas lights with exposed wiring should be discarded. Electricity can easily arc between exposed wiring, especially when exposed to outdoor moisture. This can quickly overload a circuit or even cause a fire.
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    Distribute the Christmas lights between electrical outlets. Because of their design, it can be tempting to string each strand of lights end-to-end and plug the whole assembly into a single outlet. Avoid doing this, as it places an undue amount of pressure on a single circuit. Instead, try to distribute strings of Christmas lights evenly over several electrical outlets.
    • Ideally, the Christmas lights should not only be plugged into different outlets, but outlets that are wired on separate circuits. Check your electrical panel to determine which outlets in your home are wired on each circuit.
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    Plug your Christmas lights into surge-protected power strips. Power strips can be a useful intermediate step between your Christmas lights and your home's electrical supply. Because they are built to protect expensive equipment like computers and televisions, many power strips have built-in overload protection - often sold as a "surge protector." Plug your Christmas lights into power strips to reduce the risk of blowing a fuse in your home.
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    Install fewer Christmas lights. If none of the above options prove effective in your situation, it may be time for the obvious solution: hang fewer lights. Reducing the amount of Christmas lights in your display is without question the most effective and straightforward way to reduce the loads demanded of your home's electrical supply.

Tips

  • Using outdoor electrical outlets is always preferable to running extension cords from indoor outlets. This way, you will still have power indoors if your Christmas lights overload the circuit.

Things You'll Need

  • Christmas lights
  • Electrical tape
  • Power strips

Article Info

Categories: Christmas Decorations