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Christmas All Lit Up

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‘Tis the season to ask: Should I purchase LED (Light Emitting Diode) or traditional (Incandescent) lights?

Here are the Pros and Cons of LED lights to help light your path to a decision:

PROS

  • LED lights shine with brighter, bolder colors than traditional lights.
  • LED lights “burn” cooler, meaning they don’t really get hot. This is good news because they don’t pose as much of a fire hazard as traditional lights, which feel warm – often hot – to the touch.
  • LED lights use far less energy than traditional lights.  In fact, the average set of LED lights use 90% less energy than traditional lights.  You can also connect more end-to-end because they use less wattage.
  • The life expectancy for LED lights is ten timesgreater than traditional lights.  LED lights have no fragile filament to contend with, and no fragile tube.  They are resistant to heat, cold and shock.

CONS

  • LED lights cost more- on average about two to three times that of traditional lights.
  • Some people think the LED lights are too harsh and bright compared to the traditional lights.

May your Christmas be Merry and bright with these tips on Christmas Lighting

As Christmas nears and your decoration are hung with care, nothing becomes more frustrating than having all or part of your Christmas lights quit working.

We have all been there, the tree is trimmed, wreaths are looking great, garlands are perfectly placed and the outdoor lighting is just magical.  Everything is just as you envisioned it, and then, some of your lights quit working with no advance notice or warning.

What happened?!?  Christmas lights can be finicky and very frustrating especially when they quit working.  Here are some tips I have learned along the way which may help you out.

Knowing how many bulbs are on your set is very important.  The most common 50 and 100 light sets require a 2.5 volt bulb.  Thirty-five lights sets need 3.5 volt bulbs, 20 lights require 6 volt bulbs and 10 light sets require 12 volt replacement bulbs.   If you do not know how many bulbs are on your string or the voltage they require, check the white tag near the plug.  It will tell you what voltage bulbs you need for that set.  Mixing the wrong voltage in your sets will cause other bulbs to blow out quicker.

The next thing you need to remember is to save your bases from your sets.  If you buy ten different sets, you probably will have ten different bases which will not interchange with each other.  Upon close examination of your light bulbs, you will notice the bulb is threaded through the base and wires are bent up on both each side of the base.  Replacement bulbs can be easily replaced by bending wires straight, pulling out bad bulb, inserting new bulb and then bending wires back up on sides of base.  When you reinsert the base into the set, these wires make contact with metal sides of the light set completing the circuit and allowing bulbs to illuminate.

A routine I use when dealing with lights is to check them before you start to decorate.  Replace any bad bulbs you find with new ones.  When actually decorating with the lights, I make sure they are plugged in.  In this way, you can sometimes avoid a problem with a loose bulb or wire as you are stringing them into a wreath or tree.  Make sure you read the instructions on your set and follow the recommended guidelines on how many sets you can connect end to end.  By exceeding the recommendations, you can blow fuses in the sets and have all of them go out.  If you do find sets which have bare wires or are damaged, thrown them out.

Lights sets may quit working due to a missing bulb or a broken bulb.     A wire may not be making good contact in the light set.  The most frustrating of all is when a light set failure occurs when an individual bulb “shunt” fails to energize.   These shunts are energized when a filament burns out in the light bulb.  The shunt interrupts the flow of electricity through the rest of the set.  What’s one to do?

A couple other things to remember is the cheaper the lights, the cheaper the bulbs.  Lights can be rated from 1000 to 3000 hours of burn life.  Depending on usage, light sets can last one to three years on average.  I have had some clients who have kept sets going for as long as 12 years.  By remembering to replace burned out bulbs as soon as they expire, this keeps the sets going.

You may reach a point where many bulbs on a strand are burnt out and blackened.  When this occurs, it’s probably best to throw in the towel and replace the set.  You can change out each bulb with new ones, but it will take some time to accomplish this.

Hopefully, knowing these helpful tips will help shed some light on your malfunctioning Christmas Lights.