Brighten Your Holidays with Energy-Efficient Christmas Lights
Nothing brings out the magic of the holidays like a dazzling display of Christmas lights. Whether you are trying to create a winter wonderland in your yard or you simply want to jazz up the interior of your home, the right lighting is essential. With such a large selection of available types, styles and colors of Christmas lights, you have an endless array of possibilities to choose from. Before you begin, consider:
• Are you interested in indoor lighting, outdoor or both?
• How elaborate do you want your holiday light display to be?
• How many electrical outlets are available and where are they?
• What types and styles of lighting appeal to you?
• What safety considerations do you need to keep in mind?
Plan Your Holiday Light Display
Start by thinking about your overall decorating objectives. Next, measure the areas where you want to hang your lights to ensure you have enough strands for proper coverage. Also consider your style preferences, budget and the amount of time you have to dedicate to the project. All these elements will help you determine how elaborate or simple to make your lighting display.
To simplify setup and installation, break down indoor lighting projects according to each room. Outdoor lighting will need to be considered as a whole, but larger-scale projects can be separated into different zones based on the location of electrical outlets. Remember where the outlets are when planning the number of strands of lights you will need.
• Lights are a relatively inexpensive way to add some holiday cheer to your home
• Additional items such as outdoor decorations should also be incorporated into your plan
• If you do not have GFCI outlets installed, consider adding them for extra safety
Indoor vs. Outdoor Lights
All Christmas lights are classified for use in either outdoor or indoor areas, but the majority of lights at The Home Depot are both indoor- and outdoor-compatible. Outdoor-rated lights are optimized to stand up to harsh environmental elements while maintaining safe electrical connections. Before purchasing holiday lights, be sure you know where they will be located and select only appropriately rated sets.
• Indoor-rated lights are designed for indoor use only
• Outdoor-rated lights can be used both indoors and out
• Outdoor displays must use outdoor-rated extension cords only
Types and Styles
While traditional incandescent Christmas lights are still very popular, advances in holiday lighting, including LED and solar holiday lights, have dramatically improved over the past few years.
LED Christmas lights offer many advantages over traditional incandescent lights, including:
• Energy Savings of up to 80 percent
• Lifespan up to 20 times longer
• LED lights are cool to the touch and have increased durability
• You can connect many more strands together on one outlet or extension cord
The Home Depot offers three grades of LED lights on a good/better/best basis designed to improve indoor and outdoor lighting displays and save on utility bills.
Home Accents Holiday is an LED light set that allows up to 45 light sets to connect together on one single outlet. They are available with many different bulb caps and shapes, and replacement bulbs are sold online or in-store at The Home Depot.
Martha Stewart Living light sets feature continuous on-bulb technology where if one bulb burns out, becomes loose or breaks, the rest of the string stays lit. They are also flicker-free bulbs and come with a variety of specialty decorative caps. Warm white and softer color bulbs were specifically selected as they perform better than other types of indoor LED lights that can be too bright or harsh inside.
EcoSmart light sets contain the same features as the Martha Stewart Living sets mentioned above, but additionally offer super bright warm white and multicolored LED bulbs. They also offer exclusive replaceable water-resistant bulbs, and commercial-grade LED bulbs with sealed husks that block moisture from getting inside the bulb, virtually eliminating rust or damage to the wires and increasing the longevity of the strand.
GE LED lights featuring ConstantOn technology means that one blown light will no longer stop the entire light show. Even if one bulb on the string gets loose or damaged, the rest of the bulbs continue to shine brightly. And, because GE LED Christmas lights are low-watt energy-savers, you can connect up to 25 light strings together end-to-end for a brilliant display of holiday cheer. These lights can be used indoors or out and come with a five-year manufacturer’s limited guarantee.
Get Creative with LightShow™
LightShow™ LED Lights can be used to create a wide range of effects, from the bright, clear illumination of vintage bulbs to the magical sparkle of hundreds of tiny LEDs. Advances in Christmas light technology have produced color-changing LED lights and strands that illuminate in different directions or patterns for an amazing light show.
LED lights now enable coverage of up to ¼ mile, so you can light up areas that have been unreachable in the past. Inflatable decorations or lighted yard sculptures are also a great way to fill your landscape with the spirit of the season.
And, for areas with no available electrical outlet, battery-powered holiday lighting for wreaths, garland and a wide variety of decorations make it possible to spread some cheer to even the most remote or hard to reach place.
Installation and Safety
To create a safe and memorable holiday decorating experience, there are a few simple guidelines that must be observed. First and foremost, be careful not to overload electrical outlets or extension cords. Typically, incandescent lights have a limit of 500 lights per strand, which means you can connect 10 sets of 50-light strings or five sets of 100-light strings.
When stringing multiple strands together, consult the manufacturer’s instructions and do not exceed the recommended number of connections. Never connect different strands of lights together on the same circuit or outlet, such as a C7 or C9 incandescent strand with a mini-light strand, and never connect incandescent lights with LED lights.
Make sure you test your lights to see that they are working, and inspect all cords and wires prior to installation. Immediately dispose of any lights or cords that show signs of damage or wear.
In outdoor environments, wrap a piece of electrical tape around the connected plugs to provide further protection from the elements. For simple, convenient attachments to a roof, wall or other surface, look for plastic and plastic-coated fasteners, hooks and clips designed exclusively to hold holiday lighting.
• Do not overload electrical outlets or extension cords
• Use only plastic or plastic-coated fasteners and clips to hang electric lights
• Always unplug the lights when you leave the house or go to sleep
• Automatic light timers can be used to turn your lights on and off at specific times of day
• Do not run electrical cords along high-traffic areas or place underneath a rug
• Always work with a partner when using a ladder to help prevent accidents
• Never place ladders on snow, ice or slick surfaces
After the holidays, you’ll want to carefully store all of your seasonal decorations in a dry place, such as an interior closet. Allow light sets that have been outdoors in wet weather time to dry out before placing them in storage.
Avoid storing lights and decorations in the attic or basement, where the amount of moisture fluctuates during the year. And spend a little time to properly care for your lights as you take them down. It will save you considerable hassle when it’s time to put up the lights the following year. Additionally, keeping incandescent light strands neat and organized can help preserve their life by preventing broken or missing bulbs, damaged cords and messy tangles.
Various types of reels and spools designed exclusively for holiday lights are available that allow you to safely wrap and store Christmas lights in bins, boxes or storage bags. If you don’t have a reel or spool, try wrapping them around a sturdy cardboard sheet or tube. Be careful not to wrap too tightly as this can put strain on the wires.
• Spools and reels provide a convenient and organized way to store holiday lights
• Inspect cords and wires for cuts, nicks and other damage as you wind your lights
• Boxes and storage bins that are designed to hold and store lights are an excellent option
• Clearly labeling storage bins and totes will save you time when you retrieve your lights for the next season
UL-Listed Lights: Underwriters Laboratory (UL) is an independent testing agency that verifies lights are safe for use under designated conditions. Look for the UL listing on all your holiday lighting purchases.
Commercial Lights: For more ambitious decorating projects, lights rated for commercial use can be connected and strung together in longer continuous lengths.
Energy-Efficient Lighting: Lighting your home and yard for the holidays can add to your monthly energy costs. Look for more efficient options such as LED lights to cut down on holiday expenses while continuing to enjoy your festive decorations.
Battery-Operated Lights: Illuminate items that are not easily connected to electrical outlets such as wreaths, holiday flower/foliage arrangements and other decorative accents with the use of battery-operated light strands.
Outdoor Decorations: Combine your holiday lights with a variety of decorations designed exclusively for outdoor use, such as lighted sculptures, inflatable lawn ornaments and other unique embellishments for a truly memorable celebration.