With Christmas knocking on our doors, everyone is busy preparing for the festivities and the much awaited holiday break. And, part of this celebration includes decorating your home. Trimming Christmas trees with ornaments, decorating the mantel with lovely stockings and wreaths, and hanging strings of lights outside is perhaps the best way to get into the festive spirit.
However, dealing with decorating also invites a myriad of possibilities to get hurt. If you are planning to hang lights outdoors this Christmas, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
1) Start Small
Take it easy if this is your first time hanging lights. Don’t overdo it! Instead of tackling the whole house or yard, opt for lighting just two or three items, such as trees or bushes. Pick a focal point, and stick to it.
2) Choose The Right Lights
Stores now have what feels like a million different types of lights these days. Whether they’re transparent, colored, blinking, strands or nets, the choice of lights is all up to personal preference. However, there are two MUSTS when it comes to choosing the right lights. Make sure whatever you wish to use are 1) certified for outdoor use, and 2) have a UL label on them.
3) Calculate The Lights’ Wattage
To prevent circuit overloads, calculate the power wattage of your lights beforehand. You can determine this by multiplying the wattage of the bulbs by the number of sockets to get total wattage of a light string. Then divide the total wattage by 120 to reach total amps. Include no more than 1,400 watts on a circuit.
4) Waterproof Lights
One of the best ways to ensure safety is to use water-resistant lights that are UL certified. If you are going for a more traditional holiday lighting experience, you can use C7 or C9 bulbs. They are cone-shaped, colorful bulbs available for purchase at any convenience store.
5) Use Light Clips
Never nail electrical cords when hanging lights. Instead, use shock-resistant light clips to secure them safely. They are easy to install and remove, and do not pose any risks to you or your house. You can also use electrical tape if you want.
6) Use The Proper Outlet
Make sure that the power outlet you are using is a secure one, preferably a GFCI outlet. Such outlets shut the circuit down in case of overload. You can also buy a portable outdoor unit if you like.
7) Get A Ladder
Use a sturdy, efficient ladder when you’re hanging lights. Make sure the ladder is placed on a level surface and isn’t wobbling. Also, get some help if you are hanging lights on a tall tree!
8) Be Cautious With Extension Cords
Since most houses do not have a power source near the roof, using an extension cord may be necessary. Be sure to buy a good one, and place it in a less crowded area to avoid the possibility of tripping.
9) Switch Them Off
Turn off the lights before you go to sleep as well as when you are away from home. If you want, you can buy a timer and attach it to the lights with a photocell.
10) Test The Lights First
Don’t wait until the lights are hung to test them out! Check all the strings and replace any burned out lights before hanging them up.
11) Call The Pros
If you are a novice, it is better to limit your lights to eaves, gables, and the edge of the roof. For a more intense lighting display, hire a professional. Because of their experience, they can do a much better job and provide you with a safe holiday lighting spectacle.
Anyone can hang Christmas lights, regardless of his or her skill level and experience. All you need is to have the proper tools and know the do’s and don’ts. Keep the tips mentioned above in mind and start lighting up the exterior of your home today!