Since that time of year is quickly sneaking up on us and we all want to have fun, festive lights outside, here is how - PAY ATTENTION!
- Make sure all outdoor receptacles are protected by a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit interrupter). The National Electrical Code requires GFCI protection of receptacles located outdoors, and it’s for life safety purposes.
- Make sure that you have smoke detectors in your home and that they are working, as well as a fire extinguisher.
- Never use indoor lights outside, and don’t use indoor extension cords outside as well.
- Each year examine your old lights to make sure they are in good working order, and be sure to discard strands that are worn.
- Drop cords are the number one reason for electrical fires in homes, never run a drop cord under a rug, especially if there is foot traffic in the area, and never overload a drop cord. Never run drop cords out windows or doors.
- Don’t over load the circuit, which the lights are on. Read the labels on the box of lights for the total wattage. Most outdoor circuits should only be loaded to roughly 1500 watts.
- The newer mini- lights burn much cooler and therefore are much safer.
- If small children are in the home consider 12 or 24-volt lights.
- As a general rule only three strands of lights should be linked together.
- Keep out door electrical connections above ground – out of puddles of water.
- Unplug strands of lights before replacing bulbs.
- Only use UL approved lights.
- When reaching high places be sure and use the correct equipment.
- Last but not least, never burn an artificial tree in the fireplace. If you do, please see item number two above.
Purchasing and Installation Tips
This is very important especially from a man’s perspective.
Lights are always on sale somewhere, just ask your wife. The best thing to do is to let your wife go and buy the lights or even better let her know you need her help and shopping expertise and ask her if she would please go with you and help you buy some decorations. After all there is no point in getting the season off to a bad start.
Remember – especially during the holidays – happy wife, happy life.
Adhere to all the safety items mentioned.
Don’t screw hooks into your home to hold up the lights, they will eventually rust and begin to look bad. Use the new plastic gutter hangers from the store.
Don’t drive nails into your roof to mount lights to. Use the new clips that mount under your shingles. However if your roof is old and brittle, don’t use the shingle mounts either. In the case of an old brittle roof perhaps you should not put lights on your roof.
Approximate number of lights needed to decorate your tree:
3’ Tree: 50 – 100 Lights
4’ Tree: 100 – 150 Lights
5’ Tree: 150 – 200 Lights
6’ Tree: 200 – 250 Lights
7’ Tree: 300 – 350 Lights
35 – 40 Lights for each foot over 7’
If you need to figure the amperage you are using add up the total wattage of the lighting and divide by 120 (volts). Check the over current device on the circuit you are using and as a rule multiply that number by .8. So a 15-amp circuit should only be loaded to 12 amps and a 20-amp circuit only 16 amps.
Put your lights on a timer so that they go on and off by themselves, making your home beautiful whether your home or not.
As you take down your lights at the end of the season, keep next year in mind. Don’t damage the lights as you take them down and repair them as you go so that next year you don’t have to repair them as you’re putting them up.
Most importantly – have a happy holiday season!