If you haven’t already, chances are you’re probably getting ready to put up your Christmas lights very soon. For countless people, this is an essential part of the holiday tradition, and the season isn’t complete without it. However, before you put up those holiday decorations, it’s important to know how many Christmas lights is too many. Your electrical system can only support so many lights, and the last thing you want this December is a Clark Griswold incident. Keep reading for the Christmas lights safety tips you need to know, courtesy of our experienced electricians at Meyer’s Companies, Inc..
Follow These Safety Tips When Putting Up Lights This Holiday Season
- Select the Right Bulbs: Your basic choice when shopping for Christmas lights is between LED and incandescent bulbs. LED lights cost more, but 265-feet of strands together would use just 38-watts, and plugged into a single outlet, would cost just a dollar in electricity for the whole season! Incandescent bulbs, meanwhile, will save you money, but the same amount of strands would use a staggering 1,925-watts, and each one is going to require its own outlet. This would jack up your electricity bill by about $50, in addition to putting more strain on your system. Incandescent lights also don’t last as long and heat up a lot faster, making them less safe, too. For all these reasons, we highly recommend you go with LED bulbs when picking out Christmas lights. If you do decide to go with incandescent bulbs, make sure you at least know the specific electricity load you will be putting on your system. Speaking of which…
- Calculate the Amount of Electricity You’ll Be Using: Knowing what breaker your Christmas lights are attached to and whether it is a 15 or 20-amp circuit is essential to determining how many lights your system can handle. For instance, a 15-amp circuit can handle a maximum of roughly 1,440 extra watts, while a 20-amp circuit can support 1,930 watts.
- Find the Wattage on Your Lights: Most Christmas lights will have their wattage listed along with the Underwriter’s Laboratory seal of approval. It is the job of this independent product certification company to calculate things like wattage, so unsafe products don’t end up on the market. Typically, you can find this number on the string attached to the lights. Remember, while your electrical system can probably support a good amount of lights (especially if you are using LED bulbs,) keeping track of wattage will ensure you don’t tip over into an unsafe level.
- Do the Math: So what is an unsafe level exactly? The UL tag will likely tell you not to exceed a maximum of 210-watts. You should divide this number by the number of strings you are using, and then use that to determine how many strings you can plug into a given outlet. From there, just make sure you don’t exceed the maximum wattage on a circuit, whether that’s 1,440 watts or 1,920 watts.
- Figure Out What Else Is Plugged In: After you have calculated the wattage of the lights going into your system, you should figure out what else is running off the same breaker. You do not want to exceed 80% of a breaker’s max circuit load, so if your lights are going to a circuit that already uses a lot of heavy-duty electrical appliances, you could be headed for a power outage. Try to plug your lights into a circuit that doesn’t have as many electrical appliances running to it, or even better, use a dedicated circuit for holiday lights specifically (this will also ensure you don’t have to use as many extension cords.)