Tips on How to Safely Install Lights This Holiday Season

Tips on How to Safely Install Lights This Holiday Season

January 5, 2021

That time of year is upon us! The time of year when you seemingly have to risk your life to give your family an impressive lights display on your home. And while this process can definitely be dangerous, it doesn’t have to be so long as you follow the right steps and take the necessary precautions. It may take a little bit longer this way, but it’s definitely worth it to ensure your safety. So here are some tips on how to safely install lights this holiday season!

Start With the Right Lights

Before you actually install your lights, you need to make sure that you have the right lights that are ideal for outdoor and holiday use. Obviously, everyone has their own preferences when it comes to the type, color, and style of their holiday lights, but here are some general guidelines to follow as it relates to all holiday lights:


  • Make sure that your lights have been tested and approved by credible and reputable sources like the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) or the Electrical Testing Lab (ETL). You should be able to clearly see this certification on the box to know that these specific lights have been tested and proven safe for use. 


  • Make sure that the lights you buy for outdoor use are waterproof and are actually designed for outdoor use rather than indoor use. Just because you can use certain lights on a Christmas tree in your living room doesn’t necessarily mean that they are safe to use on the exterior of your home as well. 


  • When it comes to the best type of holiday light, LED lights are definitely the winner. This is because LED lights use up less energy and do not emit any heat unlike other types of bulbs. At the same time, you don’t have to sacrifice light intensity or lifespan -- as LED lights are still extremely bright and long-lasting. So not only are they safer as a result, but they can also save you a ton of money on electricity costs since they are more energy-efficient and last longer than other types of lights. 


Make Sure You Have the Right Equipment

In addition to having the right lights, you should also make sure that you have the right equipment before you hang up your holiday lights. This means that you should have a solid and sturdy ladder that is tall enough for where you’re looking to hang the lights. You should not be stretching or trying to maneuver to reach anything, as that could easily lead to you losing your balance. 


This also means that you need to have the right holders for your lights. Although it may be tempting to just use tacks, nails, or whatever you have lying around in the garage, you should only use insulated light holders to hang your lights around the exterior of your home. 


Finally, you need to make sure that you have the right extension cords that are rated for outdoor use. Furthermore, if you live in a really cold climate, you need to use extension cords that are approved for winter use so that they don’t crack if the temperatures drop below freezing. 


Check Your Lights Beforehand

Now that you have all your gear, you’re still not quite ready to start installing! 


Before you actually get up on the ladder, it’s a good idea to test your lights before you actually start installing them. There’s nothing worse than installing a whole string of lights only to find out that half of it doesn’t even work. Over the course of the year in storage, it’s quite common for lights to go out and need to be replaced. This doesn’t have to be a huge problem so long as you catch it beforehand and are able to fix it on the ground rather than up on the ladder. 


It may be annoying now, but you will thank yourself later when you don’t have to get back up on the ladder to fix any unlit sections or individual bulbs. 


Use the Right Outlet

Whichever outlet you’re using for your holiday lights is going to be dealing with a lot of energy, so you need to make sure that it’s able to handle this. 


The correct outlet type is a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. This type of outlet is designed to shut the circuit down if there is an overcurrent to prevent any issues. This type of outlet can either be installed by an electrician or a portable one can be purchased from a home improvement store. 


Turn the Power Off

Finally, before you install your lights you want to turn the electricity off. That way, you can keep yourself and your home safe during the installation. 


Install Safely

Now it’s finally time for the main event -- the installation! Before you begin, make sure that you have a friend or family member outside to supervise and/or help you. 


Here are some other tips for a safe and easy installation of your lights:


  • Make sure that your ladder is on level ground and is sturdy. Never stand on the top rung of the ladder. 


  • Do not install any lights on trees that come into contact with power lines.


  • Do not add on additional socket adapters to your extension cord that can cause it to short out. 


  • Do not splice together two strings of lights with electrical tape or a twist-on connector. 


  • Do not install exterior holiday lights during bad weather like wind or rain. 


Use a Timer

Believe it or not, but there are things you can do after installation that can help keep you and your family safe. 


One of the best things you can do is to use a timer for your lights. That way, you can ensure that they are never left on overnight or while you are not home. Plus, this can also really help you save on energy costs as well, so it’s a win-win situation! 


Expand Your Decorations

A lot of people assume that holiday lights have to just be the string lights that you hang along the roofline of your home. However, that definitely doesn’t have to be the case! 


In fact, there are other options out there that are probably safer and easier to pull off:


  • Remote control color changing LED lights like these from Boundery are a great option for the holiday season. You can easily set them up outside, set the colors to red and green with the remote control, and watch them shine! They are totally waterproof and weatherproof too, making them perfect for your exterior. 


  • Animated lighting in cool shapes and characters are also great for the holidays and don’t require any ladders! Just set them up on your lawn and call it a day.


  • Custom colored fence lights like these from Boundery can easily be installed to any fence and then customized with your favorite holiday colors. 


Final Thoughts on Holiday Lights

As you can see, installing holiday lights definitely isn’t something that you can rush and do quickly. You need to prepare for it beforehand by checking all your equipment and lights. You need to turn off the power and have an assistant to help supervise while you’re up on the ladder. And finally, you need to take them down properly to ensure your safety come next year! A few extra minutes of planning and prep work really is a small price to pay for safety. 





Sources:

  1. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/12/03/dont-fall-for-christmas-lights-illuminating-safety-in-holiday-decorating
  2. https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/skills-and-know-how/electrical-and-wiring/outdoor-christmas-lighting-tips
  3. https://www.verywellhealth.com/christmas-light-safety-1298810