Light Up Your Holiday Season Safely! 8 Tips On Exterior Display Lighting
A dazzling display of twinkling fairy lights sparkling against the snow can really set the Christmas mood. In fact, some neighbourhoods hold a good-natured annual competition between households to see who can create the most imaginative display and some are truly jaw-dropping!
Here are some top tips to make sure your festive display is safely and correctly installed.
1. Take care out there!
Always use a good ladder when you set about installing your lights and make sure you have someone to ‘foot’ it for you if you’re working at height. Before you even venture outside, plug the lights in and make sure that all your bulbs are in working order; it’s too late once you’ve installed them!
Always secure your lights with insulated holders; don’t use nails or tacks. If you’re going to put lights in trees; make sure there are no power lines within touching distance. Never be tempted to leave your exterior lighting display on all night or if you are away. Not only is this a fire hazard, it can also cause annoyance to neighbours and will cost you a fortune in electricity!
2. Safety first
Always use a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet. In the event of a spike in the current this type of outlet will shut down the circuit. You can either buy a portable outdoor unit from your local DIY or hardware store or better still have a qualified electrician install a permanent one for you ready for all those Christmases to come.
3. Extension cables
Always use extension cables that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Make sure any connections are kept above ground level, out of snow and water and avoiding areas of high foot-traffic. If cables cross footpaths, use waterproof tape or rubber matting to cover them and avoid using excessive lengths of cabling as this could create a trip hazard.
4. Use waterproof lights
There is a huge array of different lighting effects to choose from for your festive display but always make sure you’ve selected outdoor-specific ones. They must be waterproof or at the very least water-resistant and should also display the relevant symbol which indicates they have been approved and tested by the relevant safety bodies pertaining to the country you are using them in.
Never use indoor Christmas lights outside!
5. Which lights to use
If you like the traditional style of outdoor lighting, the best type to use is C7 or C9 which you can buy in strings of varying lengths from good hardware and DIY stores and some of the bigger garden centres. The C9 lights are the larger size with a greater wattage and both varieties are available in either frosted or clear glass.
If you opt for shorter strands of 25 bulbs, you have the option of linking them together up to a maximum of three strands. The longer 100 bulb strings cannot be connected and you must not mix the two. The bulbs are designed to fail individually so as not to affect the whole string and they are easily and quickly changed.
Mini bulbs are also available for outdoor use and can look very effective in trees or hung around the perimeter of your house. They cost less to run but the strings are designed to run in a series so if one socket fails, you’ll lose a whole section. Each bulb contains an inbuilt shunt which will keep the whole string lit if one individual bulb fails.
6. Net lighting
If you want to illuminate bushes, hedging or small trees, net lighting is extremely effective. The net is formed of a mesh of connected mini LED lights designed to be draped like a blanket. Net lighting is a hassle-free way to add a quick splash of bling to your garden.
7. Animated lighting
If you like moving reindeer, snowmen, Nativity scenes etc animated lights are the way to go. Mini LED lights are fitted onto a wire frame and the variety you can buy is almost infinite. Animated figures are a great, fun finishing touch and kids love them!
8. Shimmer spheres
Shimmer spheres are wonderfully effective; sparkling snowballs, stars and baubles are made up of lots of lights in varying colours and sizes and some styles have a built-in twinkling function to give your house a really stunning look.
Get creative; stay safe and have a wonderfully illuminated Christmas!