holiday lightsThis time of year, when it comes to lighting, many people’s focus turns to holiday lights. As much as holiday lights can be a source of joy and wonder throughout the season, they can also be a source of frustration, as well as a safety hazard. Below are some tips to help take the frustration out of lighting up the holidays, and to help ensure that your holiday season is a safe and happy one.

Indoor lights – one common source of holiday frustration is putting lights on the tree only to find that there aren’t enough to cover the whole tree. A good rule of thumb is to plan on either 20 large 60 small bulbs per foot, so when purchasing new lights, pay attention to bulb count, since the number of bulbs per string vary according to manufacturer and style. A six foot tree will need 120 large bulbs, or 360 small ones, so plan accordingly.

Before putting lights up, it’s a good idea to plug them in and check the string for any frayed wires or broken bulbs. If you need to replace worn out lights with new ones, consider selecting LED lights. They cost a bit more up front, but the light they provide is clearer and brighter than that of incandescent bulbs, and they use so little power that they’ll more than make up the difference in your electric bill. Better yet, they burn cool, which makes them a safer choice as there’s no chance of them overheating and igniting the tree on fire.

Outdoor lights – the recipe for avoiding surprise frustration when hanging holiday lights includes two main ingredients: planning and measuring. Plan out everything from what style of lights you’ll use to where you’ll hang them and how much coverage you want. For your home, measure the length and add 30 feet to accommodate the roof’s incline. Adding lights in shorter strands, with ends that can plug into each other, will make it easier to replace sections that go out. For trees and shrubs, measure the height, and plan on about 50 large or 100 small bulbs per foot. Double that if a tree or bush is especially thick, or if you prefer dense coverage.

As with indoor lights, check them first for any frayed or worn wires or burned out bulbs. When buying new lights, make sure that they are rated for outdoor use. Using indoor lights outdoors could not only lead to frustration when the weather interferes with their functionality, but could also pose an electrical or fire hazard, making your holidays anything but merry and bright.

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