December 16, 2017

Outdoor Christmas Lights Safety

 

Take Precautions When Hanging Christmas Lights Outdoors

 hanging lights

It’s no secret that outdoor Christmas lights can turn any home and yard into a holiday wonderland. However, it’s important to be as mindful of safety when hanging Christmas lights outdoors as it is when setting them up indoors.  As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

 

 

Landscape Lighting Selection Smarts

Common sense dictates that all products used for exterior and landscape lighting purposes be intended specifically for installation outdoors. The same is true for all extension cords used to provide power to outdoor Christmas lights, which should be rated for outdoor use. Additionally, before purchasing any extension cord, check the package for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) seal. UL is an independent laboratory that evaluates electrical products for safety–and if a cord isn’t UL-rated, leave it on the store’s shelves.

 

Go For the Ground–The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

 gfi

Precautions for hanging Christmas lights outdoors aren’t limited to proper outdoor Christmas lighting selection and the purchase of appropriate extension cords. It’s also a smart idea to buy a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, or GFCI — “the most effective means for protecting consumers against electrical shock hazards,” according to Document 5040 of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. A GFCI is the small red rectangle that lies between the upper and lower sets of holes of some electrical outlets. It constantly monitors current flowing in a circuit to sense any loss of current. If the current flowing through two circuit conductors differs by a very small amount, the GFCI instantly interrupts the current flow to prevent users from coming into contact with a lethal amount of electricity. GFCIs are especially critical to use with outdoor Christmas lights, whose wires and bulbs can be damaged by unpredictable and sometimes severe weather.

 

Call In the Pros

For yet another layer of landscape lighting safety, hire an electrician to check all outlets and GFCIs to determine whether they are operating properly and can supply the necessary volume of power to your exterior Christmas lighting display. Asking the electrician to install extra outlets is a wise course of action if he or she deems them necessary. Otherwise, you run the risk of pluging too many lights into one outlet, overloading the circuit and causing a power failure or a fire. When setting up landscape lighting, remember also that water and electricity make a terrible and potentially dangerous combination. Without fail, keep electrical connections clear of snow and puddles and ensure that sockets point downward when inserting bulbs into them. Never put strings of exterior Christmas lights on trees that come into contact with power lines. And finally, do not hang outdoor Christmas lights on trees that touch, or could potentially touch, power lines. Better safe than sorry!

Outdoor Christmas Lights 101

                                  

Choose From A Wealth of Options In The Exterior Christmas Lights Category 

LED-Icicle-LightsWhere and how should I use icicle lights, and what in the world are LED icicle lights? What’s the difference between string lights and rope lights? What are curtain lights, and are they the same as net lights? These are probably among the questions you’re asking yourself if you’re new to the outdoor Christmas décor game. Here’s a “crash course” in outdoor Christmas lights that will make you a confident exterior Christmas lights shopper in no time flat! 

Just the Facts: Icicle Lights

Icicle lights have, over the past few years, become one of the most popular categories of outdoor Christmas lights. As their name implies, icicle lights look like real icicles. Available in different shapes (traditional, snowflake, star, etc.) and colors (white, blue, pink, and purple), this variety of lights allows you to give your outdoor Christmas décor a “white Christmas” type of look–even when the weather outside is anything but frightful. Simply suspend them from the eaves and/or roofline of your home. Icicle lights come in two varieties–traditional incandescent and LED. Some proponents of incandescent icicle lights say they are a better choice because they are brighter and cost less money to purchase than their incandescent counterparts. However, fans of LED icicle lights point out that they do not contain a filament and require less energy to operate, rendering them a more economically viable option in the long run. When selecting between the two varieties, consider that LED icicle lights are made of heavy plastic, making them extremely durable. 

The Real Deal on Rope and String Lights

Rope and string lights are another major subcategory of outdoor Christmas lights. Manufactured from clear PVC tubing, these lights can be formed into different shapes and cut in regular increments, as well as programmed to illuminate outdoor areas in a steady fashion or using flashing/blinking effects generated by a controller. Many people like to wind rope lights around outdoor Christmas trees, and they can also be used to extend outdoor Christmas décor to railings and fences when wrapped around these structures. 

Catching The Drift on Net Lights

This variety of exterior Christmas lights allows users to place blankets of Christmas mini lights on bushes and trees, as well as to uniformly illuminate areas that may otherwise be difficult to light. A majority of Christmas net lights available on the market incorporate 150 bulbs. They’re very easy to install; just lay them over bushes or wrap them around tree trunks. Outdoor curtain lights are swaths of lights that are ideal for draping from balconies, running along gutters and draping across walls. Some vendors offer connectable LED systems wherein LED string lights, net lights and icicle lights can all be added to the same chain for an added element of flexibility to outdoor Christmas décor.

Christmas Light Installation: A Beginner’s Guide

Hanging Exterior Christmas Lights Can Be Easy
Christmas Light Installation A bEginner GuideIf you celebrate Christmas and live in a private home, chances are that you will, at some point, want to make the season more festive by hanging Christmas lighting outside. Contrary to what many people believe, learning how to hang Christmas lights isn’t difficult. Here are some tips to get you started.

Getting Ready
Christmas Light Installation A bEginner Guide 1It’s best to find someone to help you rather than undertaking a Christmas light installation project on your own. However, if you cannot find one, hang a receptacle (either a basket or a bucket with a handle) from a nail or an “S” hook on your ladder. This will limit the number of times you need to climb up and down from the roof during the course of your work. Carefully scrutinizing all of your exterior Christmas lights before you–and, if available, your assistant–ascend the ladder is also a good idea. Ensure that all lights are operable and have no frayed areas in the cords prior to carrying them up the ladder with you.

Starting At The Top
Christmas Light Installation A bEginner Guide 2One of the most important things to remember when doing a Christmas light installation is to finish each piece of the project before starting on another. Otherwise, you may miss something important and will find yourself re-taking steps you thought you had already completed in the course of installing Christmas lighting outside. Start with the roof line. You can run an extension cord through a window or plug it into an exterior outlet and running it from there to the roof line, keeping it as close to the house as possible and making certain that the outlet is not exposed to rain, snow, and sprinkler water. Then, install fasteners or holders over which to drape the extension cord or cords and the strings of exterior Christmas lights themselves. Space all fasteners uniformly, and ensure that they hold up to 10 pounds.

The Hang of It
Christmas Light Installation A bEginner Guide 3Once the fasteners or holders have been installed, it’s time hang your exterior Christmas lights. Starting at the power source, “follow” the fasteners across to the other side of the line. Suspend an individual string, then plug in the next string, then the next, etc. Never plug all the strings together to speed things up, as it will result in a mess of tangled light strings. Finally, double-check that the light string cords of all Christmas lights outside are secure in/on the fastener and cannot be knocked off the roof. Do the columns on your home next, interspersing light strings with natural or artificial holiday garland. Removable tacky clay, placed behind the string garden, will help adhesion here. Loop light strings under and over the railing of your porch, and–with the same peel-and-stick fasteners you used on the roof, along the top of the porch enclosure. Done! See, learning how to hang Christmas lights, and doing a Christmas light installation on your own, isn’t as difficult as you thought. Enjoy your handiwork!

How To Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights

How To Hang Outdoor Christmas LightsInstalling Exterior Christmas Lights Can Be Handled In A Few Easy-to-Understand Steps

Do you love the look of outdoor holiday lights, but dread the idea of installing them? Don’t worry. The process isn’t as daunting as it seems. Just follow this primer, and you’ll have no trouble hanging outdoor Christmas lights.

How To Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights 1Start With the Basics

The basics of how to hang outdoor Christmas lights include performing a few basic preliminary steps. First, find an electrical receptacle. You’ll want to use heavy-duty extension cords, running from a 120-volt electrical outlet protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter.  Then, take a long measuring tape of 30 feet or longer and measure both the length of your home along the ground and its height. Also, measure the height of any component of your yard–such as bushes and trees–you will want to embellish with exterior Christmas lights, as well as the lengths of Christmas light strings needed to decorate the periphery of doors and windows. Then calculate how many 50-foot Christmas light strings are required to accommodate these measurements combined.

How To Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights 2Get A Good Look

Take a good look at the Christmas light strings you’re going to hang. If there’s one important thing to remember about how to hang outdoor Christmas lights once you’ve finished the basics ,but before you actually start doing the job, it’s this: Inspect all light strings for broken and missing bulbs, and thoroughly examine wires for defects and excessive wear. Pull broken bulbs out with long-nose pliers, and don’t forget to wear gloves. Unplug strings to replace faulty bulbs, re-testing them to make certain that lights work. Check for a blown fuse on any Christmas light string that doesn’t work at all, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacing the fuse and perform a re-check, replacing the whole string if the fuse blows again. Discard any outdoor holiday lights whose wires are worn out or otherwise defective.

How To Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights 3Up On The Ladder

Finally, it’s time to actually climb the ladder to install those exterior Christmas lights. It’s best to use an extension ladder, unless you reside in a home with low eaves. Lean the ladder against the eaves, ensuring that it sits firmly on flat ground. The ladder should extend fairly far above the eaves and be propped in a position that allows for comfortable climbing. Any gutter against which a ladder leans should have a short piece of 2 by 4 inserted in it to secure that ladder. Attach outdoor holiday lights along your gutters and/or roof with plastic clips manufactured especially for that purpose. The clips work by gripping shingles or gutters; they feature lower hooks designed to hold Christmas light strands and extension cords. Attach exterior Christmas lights to the trim of your home’s windows trim, as well as to other vertical surfaces, with tube light or nail-on plastic clips spaced at intervals of about 12 inches. Then stand back and admire your work. Now, learning about hanging Christmas lights wasn’t that hard, was it?

Slideshow of the World’s Best Hanging Holiday Lights

Ever dream of taking a tour around the world so you could see some of the best displays of hanging holiday lights?  With plenty of us obsessed with seeing the finest outdoor Xmas light displays in our communities, it’s only fitting that we want to branch out and see what the world has to offer.

If you’re one of those who’d love to see these Christmas light displays from around the world, be forewarned. We can’t take you in person for free to see this outdoor Christmas lighting, but we can do the next best thing.  We can lead you to a slideshow where you can see the absolute finest in exterior Christmas lights the world over. So come on, be an adventurous armchair traveler and see the highlights, with the help of Travel and Leisure magazine, what we have picked out for you.

This slideshow starts out with clips from Disney World, Tokyo, Brussels, Branson, Johnson City and Mexico City.  For more on these decorative holiday lights refer to our companion story, “The World’s Best Displays of Hanging Outdoor Christmas Lights”.  Following clips from these locations the show moves on to cover the lights decorations of 5 additional outstanding light displays from around the world.  Stick with the slideshow and treat yourself to bold and bright holiday greetings from the following locales:


Slideshow of the Worlds Best Hanging Holiday LightsTivoli Gardens-Copenhagen: Tivoli’s amusement park Christmas decorations were designed by John Loring of Tiffany and Co.  With 20 acres of trees, buildings and rides decked out with festive lights, this is the place to be if you happen to land in Copenhagen at Christmastime.

Plaza de Comunicaciones, Madrid: This awe-inspiring display occurs only on Christmas Eve at the new city hall in Madrid. Unusual in the sense that it combines a whole lot of smoke and fireworks with the Christmas lights, it will remind you that cultures around the world each have a different take on what constitutes a successful light display.

Dededo, Guam: Smack in the middle of the Micronesia Mall, this Christmas light display includes a holiday lights train as well as a 35 foot tree and lights that blink in time to music.  Most unusual is the aroma machine that pumps out the smell of Christmas’ familiar pine trees.

Harbor City, Kowloon, Hong Kong: Thousands of blinking light in this shopping area serve to make the whole experience an overwhelming and dizzying one.  When it comes to Christmas lights, if you’re looking for excess–this is the place!

Take me to the show!

http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/worlds-best-holiday-light-displays/2

Landscape Lighting for Year Round Use

Landscape Lighting–Not Just for the Warmer Months

Landscape Lighting for Year Round UseIf you think landscape lighting is only about summer–think again.  Well planned outdoor landscape lighting should offer you, the homeowner, year-round pleasure and include an opportunity to use your investment in concert with all the seasons including the season of exterior Christmas lights.

Often the drabbest of seasons, winter, usually gets livened up in the yard only when the holiday lights come out. Tasteful landscape lighting can change all this.  Lights can be installed to add interest to your home and your plantings as well as to provide light for safety and security.  And come Christmas time, your investment can be modified slightly to accommodate a rich and opulent display of exterior Christmas lights.

Adapt Your Existing Landscape Lighting to Accommodate Exterior Christmas Lights

Simply replacing your landscape spots with colored outside holiday lights can make them adaptable as the seasons change.  With very little labor after the initial installation, you can change the effect passersby have as they drive down your block.  From spring and summer, to fall and winter, and into the holidays the lighting can be quickly modified to the holiday season.

Simple, elegant Christmas Light Displays

Landscape Lighting for Year Round Use 1At Christmas, your lighting needn’t be the brightest on the block to be the finest.  Simple, versus complex lighting schemes, can sometimes allow you to achieve more elegant outdoor Christmas light displays.  Consider lighting a stately, tall tree in your yard with single spotlights.  As an alternative, you could use tree uplighting as seen in this photo, where the lights are at the base of the trees and angled upward.  The concept is simple, but the effect can be as perfect as the beautiful snow-covered trees on a sophisticated Christmas card.

Landscape Lighting for Year Round Use 2On your home you could try adding some simple wreath lights with stark red bows. With these outdoor Christmas lighting ideas you’ll have some of the most beautiful, classic holiday lighting displays around.  All you need to complete the picture is a fresh, white blanket of newly fallen snow!

Nothing Shows Off Cheer During the Holidays Like Yard Lighting

Yard Lighting is a Display of Individuality

nothing shows off cheer during the holidays like yard lightingThe different ways people decorate their yards for the holidays are as unique as their individual personalities. Some people are zany and colorful, while others are reserved and elegant. With all of the different styles of lights available for decorating, literally any design scheme that can be conceived of can be executed. When you decorate your yard for the holidays, you’re showing the world that you care enough about cheer and good will to dedicate the time and energy to transform the front of your house into a spectacular sentiment of Christmas wonder.

Take Precautions When Setting Up Your Exterior Christmas Lights
When preparing to install your exterior Christmas lights, there are certain precautions you should take to ensure the safety of yourself and your lights:

  • Never try to hang lights from unsafe heights.
  • Always make sure that your lights are secured to your home so they don’t fall.
  • Make sure your lights are resistant enough to withstand the elements.
  • Make sure that all of your bulbs work prior to hanging them up to avoid multiple trips up the ladder.
  • Always wear safety glasses when setting up outdoor lights.
  • Snowflake Lighting and Mini Lights are Great Accessories for Outdoor Decorating
    nothing shows off cheer during the holidays like yard lighting 1Whether you live in a climate that doesn’t permit snowfall, or you just like the look of them, snowflake lights are classic Christmas decorations that have stood the test of time. Snowflake lights offer homes that don’t have natural snow on them some of that winter luster while eliminating the mess and cold weather from the equation. Snowflake lights come in a variety of styles, shapes and colors and fit in perfectly with any other decorations around them. Never tacky and always perfect for seasonal decorating, snowflake lights are chosen by decorators time and time again because of their classic elegance and beauty.

    And if you want to eliminate the hassle of decorating your home with big bulky lights, try using mini lights. Mini lights give off a subtle glow, are easy to put up and never get bright to the point of excess. Mini lights are perfect for accentuating special parts of the home or office, and come in a variety of styles and colors. Perfect for the decorator who values subtlety but knows how to achieve pizzazz, mini lights are great standbys to fulfill any holiday decorating need.

    Picture Sources:

    Yard Lighting: http://www.boston.com/ae/sidekick/blog/holiday_lights.gif

    Snowflake Lights: http://www.oogalights.com/Christmas-Decorations/902205-Icicle-String-Lights-with-Holographic-Snowflakes.jpg