‘Tis the season. Carols, hot chocolate, wrapping paper, and…CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!
Every year thousands of people pull out the lights and work to top Clark Griswold. But if you’re new to the Christmas light game, how do you know where to start?
We have some quick and easy tips to get you started on the road to Christmas light glory.
1. Plan–Yeah, yeah, this isn’t the part you want to think about. You just want to get started! But, a little planning will save you time later in the process. Think whether you want to hang lights from the gutter or shingles. Do you want white or colored lights, large or mini? Will you have lights on the bushes and trees, or just on the house? You could even take it one step further and actually measure all the straight lines you plan on attaching lights to.
2. Safety first–Be smart when hanging Christmas lights. The safest outlet to use is a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet. Also make sure your extension cords are rated for outdoor use, your lights are waterproof, and your ladder is sturdy. No one wants to spend Christmas in the emergency room!
3. Pick your light type–There are dozens of types of lights. The bigger C7 and C9 bulbs are more traditional, but miniature bulbs are becoming very popular. Net and icicle lights provide a nice punch to the landscape, and everyone loves the animated models sold in all the big box stores. LED lights will help you cut energy costs, and most fixtures come in LED options.
4. Get to work–Remember to use all purpose light clips instead of staples or nails. Take a step back regularly to assess your work and make sure it’s taking shape the way you want it to. Consider installing a timer along with the lights to guarantee they turn off when you want them to.
Now the best part. Call your whole family out into the yard, insist they drumroll and make a big production out of plugging everything in.
And hope it all works.
Who among us has not gotten into the car and driven around another neighborhood just to admire the holiday lights and decorations? All of us love the glow of icicle lights hanging from deck rails, the romantic warmth that comes with festive lighting. Yet, inexplicably, most of us limit outdoor lighting to the holiday season, fully enjoying our decks and yards for just a few hours every day.
Let There Be Light
Increasingly, however, people are choosing to light up the great outdoors year round, appreciating not only the look but also the safety that comes with it. Illuminating walkways helps to prevent slips and trips, safeguarding the family from harm and protecting the homeowner from legal liability should someone else fall. Light at entrances not only keeps the wrong people from approaching them but also lets homeowners see who is out there before opening the door.
The added security offered by outdoor lighting makes a great argument for doing something that homeowners want to do for other reasons. Wanting either to show off beautiful landscaping or make the deck more functional, homeowners are right to justify the project with its safety benefits. Still, it is more than likely the romantic dinners and summer parties on the deck that spill into the backyard that motivate the change.
Leave It to a Pro
There is no denying the special ambiance that comes with the right outdoor lighting, and a wide range of options exists. Downlights for paths, up-lighting for decks, colored fluorescents…all are available, and a professional electrician can help the homeowner to determine the best choices. As important to landscaping as the right choice of grasses and flowers, outdoor lighting systems should be well planned and properly installed.
Not exactly like stringing Christmas lights from the roof, permanent outdoor lighting needs to be handled by an electrician. The rewards, however, are numerous, starting with the extended usefulness of decks and yards, illuminating them for night-time enjoyment. The charm of light softly glowing here and there throughout the yard adds a special touch to the beauty of the home year round.
Is there anything more spectacular than walking around the neighborhood during Christmas and seeing all of the homes decorated with holiday lights? Some neighborhoods make a competition out of it, with one neighbor trying to outdo the next. Every one of them tries to create a more spectacular display than the year before so they can be “the house.”
While we all love creating and seeing these displays, we also want everyone’s home to be safe. There are some basic outdoor holiday lighting safety tips that should be followed in order to make sure you do not inadvertently put your home and family at risk.
- Use only UL approved lights for your outdoor displays
- Check all lighting for damaged sockets and frayed wiring
- Check all bulbs and replace any broken bulbs as well as any bulbs that are not working properly
- Do not loosely hang lights over branches our other outdoor areas. Instead, secure the lighting to thicker branches, tree trunks, boards, mailboxes, etc…
- Use only outdoor, heavy extension cords
- Lights should not be placed near water supplies, such as a downspout
- Avoid dangerous areas, such as feeds from your utility pole
- Only use GFCI outlets for lighting
- If plugs or outlets get warm when in use, discontinue use as the circuit could be getting overloaded
- You should use no more than three sets of lights for each extension cord
- All lighting should be turned off when leaving the home or before going to bed
In addition to these tips, you should enlist at least one addition helper when stringing the lights. If climbing on a ladder, be sure to have someone holding the ladder for support the entire time you are using it. Avoid trying to untangle lighting while on the ladder, as this could cause you to lose your footing and fall.