Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Lighting Guide

Nothing says Christmas like driving down streets of homes all lit up in holiday lighting. As a kid we used to pile into Dad's suburban and cruise around checking out all the pretty displays people put up each year. It seems every year the deigns get more crazy and intricate. Thanks to the great folks at Home Depot I have a great guide for holiday lighting. We would love to see any pictures you have of some of the better holiday lights you see this winter; please post them in our comments section below.

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 for a festive home. With such a large selection of available types, styles and colors 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?


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 technology over the past few years have dramatically improved the latest available selections. LED lights offer many advantages over the traditional incandescent lights, including:

Energy Savings of up to 80%
Lifespan up to 20-times longer
Cool to the touch and increased durability
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 forty-five 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 at homedepot.com.

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, 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.

Solar Lights are another new entry for Holiday outdoor lighting. They turn on automatically at dusk and charge during the day, even in cloudy conditions. These LED lights are available in icicle style-white, mini-white, mini-colored and icicle style-colored varieties and can be set as steady on, or flashing.

Get Creative

Holiday lighting 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 technology have resulted in color changing LED lights and strands that illuminate in different directions or patterns for an amazing light show. Advances in LED lights now enable coverage of up to ¼ mile, so you can light up areas that have been unreachable in the past. Consider lighting the top of your fence, garden or trees for an unbelievably festive and beautiful display. You can also include inflatable decorations or lighted sculptures in your collection.

If you are unable to reach an electrical outlet, battery operated lights enable illumination of items such as wreaths or foliage.

Installation and Safety

In order to create a safe and memorable decorating experience, there are a few simple guidelines that must be observed. First and foremost, be very 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-lights or 5 sets of 100-lights. But 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 make sure 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 away all of your seasonal decorations in a dry place, such as an interior closet. Allow light sets that have been outdoors in wet weather or accumulated moisture time to dry out before placing them in storage. Avoid storing lights and decorations in attics or basements where the amount of moisture fluctuates during the year. Taking the time to properly care for your lights as you take them down will save you considerable time next year when you go to set them up again. 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 can be purchased. Simply wrap your lights around these devices as indicated and place them in an appropriate storage bin, box or storage bag. 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


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 creeping 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.

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