The sparkle of Christmas lights is an indication that the Yuletide season is here. Beautifully lit trees, wreaths, entryways and just about anywhere can elicit a magical feeling.
When buying and putting up Christmas lights, electrician and owner of the Lopinot-based Next Security Devices Ltd, Bevon Cyrus told Newsday people need to pay close attention to safety instructions.
“Each string of lights, both indoor and outdoor, come with a UL tag at end. That is an inspection tag which tells you the lights have been inspected and meet the required standards. Make sure that your lights have that UL tag.” He said when plugging in Christmas lights, there should not be more than five ten-foot strings on a circuit – indoor or outdoor. And, he said, the brand of the lights does matter.
“Sometimes, the wires on the strings of cheaper brands of lights are so thin, that it’s easy for them to overheat and burn. If you put too many on the same circuit, you run the risk of overloading the circuit and blowing your breaker,” or even causing a fire.
And while many people may be on a tight budget this year, Cyrus said if you can, it’s better to invest in LED lights, as they last two to three times longer than incandescent lights and save on electricity.
“Remember that the incandescent lights draw more electricity than the LED lights because they tend to get hot. LED may cost more initially, but you save in the long run.” LEDs use ten per cent of the electricity that incandescent lights do – saving energy and producing less heat, which reduces the risk of fire.
Incandescent lights are a little brighter, but strings of LEDs usually have more bulbs per string, so they give off around the same amount of light. LEDs are made from light-weight plastic and are less likely to break than glass incandescent bulbs. Cyrus said ideally, Christmas light lovers should get an electrician to run an outlet to each of the four corners of the outside of their house to make it easier to plug in their outdoor lights without have to use too many extensions. He said outdoor light plugs should be properly sealed with electrical tape where they are joined if they are exposed to the elements, to prevent water from getting in when it rains. “And there are times when people may want to run an outlet close to an outdoor plant to light it up, or to plug in a projector with fairy lights. If they are doing this they should have a proper conduit from point A to B.
Dig a trench about a foot or two in depth and run the wires through proper piping.” He said it also very important to put a marker to indicate there is a pipe running underground.
The best time to run outdoor lights is in the evening so that you can see the effect they make as you string them.
When decorating bushes, nets are the easiest and quickest way to add instant glow. For trees, wrap mini or rope lights around the bark, which will usually hold the strings in place. If you need to, use push pins to hold the strings in place.