If you’re a fan of Christmas trees and holiday lights, you probably marvel at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree every year. This global holiday symbol shines brightly for all to see in the middle of New York City every December. The tree – usually a Norway spruce standing between 69 and 100 feet tall – features 30,000 LED lights and five miles of wiring.
Your lights display may not be quite as extravagant as the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, but you still need to take steps to ensure you light up your holidays safely this year.
Follow these important tips from Mr. Electric® to create a safe, beautiful lights display you can be proud of.
Access Power Safely
- Plug into the nearest outlet: The safest power source is the outlet nearest to the lights display. Plugging your lights directly into the wall is the most straightforward option.
- Plug into an extension cord: If the nearest outlet is still too far away, the next best option is to plug your lights into a heavy-duty extension cord rated for outdoor use. These are usually bright orange and quite thick.
- Use a GFCI: A ground-fault circuit interrupter is a special type of wall outlet installed where water and electricity could potentially mix. These areas include basements, kitchens, bathrooms and outside. GFCIs monitor the electrical current flowing through them and automatically shut off if the current becomes unbalanced, such as if water enters the system. This reduces the chance of electric shock. You know your outlet is a GFCI if it has a “test” and “reset” button on the front.
- Use outdoor power stakes: If you don’t have access to an exterior outlet, look into the possibility of outdoor power stakes. These bring power right where you need it. Simply insert a stake into the ground where you want your lights display to begin. The best power stakes have automatic sensors to turn your lights on at dusk and turn them off again at dawn. In addition, solar power stakes allow you to light up your home without raising your electric bill.
Choose Your Outlets Carefully
- Don’t overload a circuit: A typical household circuit can power 70 strings of 50-bulb mini lights, or 300 to 600 strings of 50-bulb LED lights. If you plan to use more than these amounts, spread the light strands across multiple circuits to prevent an overload. Take any major appliances into account if you plug in lights on the same circuit.
- Avoid interference: If possible, don’t plug lights into the same outlet as your garage door opener. This could create interference and possibly prevent your garage door remote from operating properly.
Choose and Install Lights Safely
- Inspect lights first: Before plugging in a strand of lights, examine the cord for damage. Throw away any frayed, kinked or worn light strands. Only hang lights outside if they’re rated for outdoor use.
- Practice ladder safety: Choose a wood or fiberglass ladder for hanging lights near power lines. Secure your ladder to the ground and make sure it extends at least three feet above the roof’s edge. Climb no higher than the fourth rung from the top of the ladder.
- Fasten strands securely: Use proper light-hanging hooks to fasten strands to trees, walls or the house. This keeps the lights in place even when the wind picks up.
- Install a timer: To avoid braving the cold every night, install a timer to automatically turn on the lights at dusk and turn them back off at dawn (or earlier if you prefer).
For more holiday lighting tips, watch the video below and please contact Mr. Electric with any questions.