Are you in a one-up competition with your neighbors to see whose lawn can be the brightest this December? Did you leave the hardware store with a wheelbarrow full of Christmas lights in order to dominate your street’s light displays? Or are you simply stringing up a few lights around your eaves, to get into the holiday spirit? However you go about hanging your holiday lights, you should be safe, smart and efficient about it.
Using shoddy extension cords, overloading outlets, leaving your lights on round the clock, neglecting to use a GFCI: these are all avoidable mistakes that many homeowners nevertheless make. By all means, get into the friendly spirit of competition this holiday season and hang up as many Christmas lights as your system will allow for, but be smart about it, since anything to do with electricity, even something as innocuous as your holiday lights, can be dangerous. And when in doubt, call us for help anytime and we can install or take down your lights.
In this article, we’ll look at the process of hanging holiday lights, which you can either do by yourself or have us do. We’ll discuss choosing lights, hanging them and finding the right outlet, as well as talk about different types of popular lighting. By the end of the article, you may not be an expert – but you’ll be a little bit closer!
Understanding the Rules
If you’ve ever seen a house with their lights still up in April, and thought to yourself, “well, that’s odd”, then you aren’t alone. Not only is it “odd”, but it’s also technically against the rules. According to the National Electric Code (NEC), holiday lighting is to stay up no longer than 90 days, and all lighting must be supported in some way so as not to cause damage. The code further stipulates that vegetation shouldn’t be used to support lighting, but gives the caveat that trees can be used as long as the appropriate strain relief is used.
There are more rules to digest (the enforcement of which does vary state to state) so we encourage you to take a look at this informative article from the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), which details in common language the code surrounding holiday lighting. Or you can, of course, skip straight to the experts here at Attaboy! Hiring electric services in Littleton to hang and dismount your lights can take the worry out of the holidays.
Don’t just being your indoor holiday lights outside; they may not be waterproof, and can, therefore, pose an electrical problem. Also, perhaps it’s time to throw out that old string of lights you bought in the 80s – not only are they less capable of handling the weather, but the wires may be frayed or faulty as well. It’s best to just buy a new set of Christmas lights, preferably ones that are energy efficient (more on that below).
Hanging Your Lights
While the goal of hanging your lights is to ensure that they are securely placed and supported, you want to avoid puncturing or stripping any of the wires. This can cause all sorts of nasty problems down the line. Maybe the safest way to affix holiday lighting is to use plastic – plastic clips, rope light clips or zip ties should do the trick. You also want to make sure the lights are unreachable by any curious children and install a timer for the lights so you don’t run the risk of forgetting to turn them off.
As far as the ladder is concerned, always practice good ladder safety, and don’t go it alone. Having someone on the ground to spot you could potentially save your life, especially around winter when the ground is icy and the winds are powerful.
Try to use the nearest outlet you can find, preferably a 120-volt electrical outlet, and protect it with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (or a GFCI as it’s commonly known). A GFCI is a safety mechanism that shuts off power when the electrical current becomes unbalanced, therefore sparing you from potential electric shock. These should be commonplace in homes, and if you don’t have GFCIs installed wherever the risk of water presents itself (e.g. outside, the washroom and kitchen) call your friendly local electric company in Littleton and we’ll change that.
Using The Right Extension Cords
If the closest outlet is still too far away to plug the lights directly, you’ll need a heavy-duty extension cord. You probably want to avoid that old extension cord in your garage that’s been gathering dust for a decade, and buy a new one that’s flexible and durable even in zero degree temperatures. There’s even a list online of the best heavy-duty extension cords available because the internet is a vast and wonderful thing!
Staying Energy Efficient
As you probably know by now (from the many people who talk about it) LED lights are the way to go for energy efficiency. They last a whole lot longer, shine brighter, use less energy and run a lot cooler. They may be a little bit more money upfront, but they are worth it in the long run, especially if you’re trying to one-up your neighbor!
Hiring An Electrician To Hang Your Lighting
Whether hanging temporary lighting for the holidays or installing permanent outdoor lighting, if peace of mind is what you crave, then call in the experts. All you have to do is let us know what kind of display you’d like, then you get to kick back and watch TV with a warm drink. How nice does that sound?
In summary, you should definitely get into the festive season with some bright holiday lighting. Just make sure to be safe, smart and efficient, or – better yet – call in the experts for the job. This could be the year that you finally beat your neighbors’ holiday displays – we’re more than happy to be a wringer for your team!