Lighting Up the Holidays … Safely and Efficiently
Decorating the outside of your home with Christmas lights and decorations adds to the spirit of the season. For many stringing lights is an annual tradition that the whole family enjoys. But along with the holiday glow come a number of electrical hazards that need to be avoided.
Standard or LED Lights
LED Christmas lights, although a little more expensive, use less energy, last longer and give off similar light levels. Because they draw less current, you can also attach more LED light strings together. Given the energy savings and greater service life, LED lights are the way to go.
Buy the Correct Type of Lights
Make sure that the lights and decorations you use are rated for outdoor use and are UL rated. Check the color-coded UL mark on the product’s package. A green holographic UL mark means for indoor use only, while a red UL mark indicates the lights are safe for both indoor and outdoor use. Putting indoor-only lights outside in the weather can result in electric shock and fire hazards.
Inspect Lights First
Inspect all lights, electric decorations and extension cords for signs of damage to wire insulation, plugs, and bulbs. If cords and plugs are damaged, discard and replace the decoration.
Too Many Lights Strung Together Can Be A Problem
One of the most common mistakes made when stringing lights is connecting too many strands of standard lights end-to-end. Most manufacturers’ guidelines allow up to three strands to be connected. Exceeding these limits can lead to overheating and a potential fire hazard. Because of their lower current draw, LED lights allow for considerably more strings of lights to be strung together.
Overloading extension cords can also occur if you attach too many lights to one cord. Use good quality cords with 14 gauge wire (or larger) that are rated for outdoor applications. Be careful were you run the cords and how you install them. Do not pinch them in windows or doors or use nails or tacks to hang them. Use insulated hooks instead.
GFCI Outlets Are Important
According to NEC code outdoor lights and cords that will get wet should be plugged into an electrical outlet that is GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) protected. This will protect you and others if a short circuit occurs.
Be Safe When Hanging Your Lights
Take extra care when hanging lights from metal surfaces like gutters or aluminum siding. These surfaces are very conductive and a defect in a wire can cause a sever shock under the right conditions.
When hanging Christmas lights outdoors, reduce your risk of electric shock by using ladders made of non-conductive materials like wood or fiberglass-reinforced plastic instead of metal ladders.
Always turn off all Christmas lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the house.
ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS AND BE SAFE AS YOU PREPARE FOR THIS SPECIAL TIME OF YEAR.
Need Something for the Holidays?
We’ll be happy to come out and have one of our licensed pros give an estimate on any electrical work you wish done. Contact us today at Artisan Electric or give us a call at 765-414-3913 and we’ll answer any questions you have.