As the Holiday season approaches quickly most of us will want to decorate our homes with outdoor lighting. This HowTo will cover some of your options and some safety tips that will keep your holiday happy.
First and most important is that you always look for an outdoor UL rating on any outside light that you install. This is true for holiday lights or basic landscape lights. Testing by UL does not mean that you are totally safe for every application you may want to try but it does mean that the manufacturer has passed some basic tests. You should also follow any directions or safety recommendations on the packaging and use the lights for their specific rated purpose.
Water and Electricity
Because Holiday lights will see harsher conditions outside you can expect them to get wet or damaged due to abuse. Every season that you reuse your lights you should take time to inspect the whole length of electrical wiring and each individual light. Some bulbs may come lose and by hanging the wires on your home you may strip away the plastic insulation.
Always disgard any damaged lighting never try to fix a $5 string of lights when a problem could mean a $5,000 trip to the hospital.
Newer lights that are recommended for outside use are often low voltage. This is great for many reasons including saving money on your electric bill but the most important reason is safety. Low voltage LED or incandescent lights can run off a power supply so the string of lights never contains dangerous voltage levels.
A new option is Solar Lights that can run without a power supply however if your home is lit by street lamps or other spot lights the solar lighting may not be strong enough to provide good results. You should buy a package and test them before purchasing your whole order.
Many people love the look of iciclelighting on eves, along gutters, around doorways and hand rails. Although you may chose to use a low voltage light to wrap around your metal handrail this is really a dangerous thing to do. First people will grab at the rail and may slip by grabbing a pointy light and you never know the low voltage device could fail and you could electrify the whole metal railing. NEVER use regular 110v house current lights on any metal object.
Safety When On The Ladder
When installing lighting on high locations you will need to use a ladder but this can be dangerous in the winter or fall when ice or wet conditions … even just moist vinyl can cause slipping of the ladder. Always perform the work with someone else home. Use rubber guards on the top of the ladder to create a firm grip against the house. Know how to use the dogs on the bottom of your ladder to provide stability in soft soil.
Never take chances if you feel uneasy then stop what you are doing. In colder months we have to wear extra clothes and coats and this can make climbing a ladder a chore even if you are use to doing it in the summer. So find a warm day and do the job then. You dont have to light your lights once they are in place you can do the work the same time you clean your gutters at the end of the season.
Electric Extension Cords and GFI Outlets
Whenever you are installing temporary lighting you will need to use extension cords that plug into an outside outlet. Your outlet should have GFI protection to help guard against dangerous voltage electrifying surrounding objects. Outside outlets should also be switched from inside. They should never be live all the time. This way if it starts to sleet or rain you do not need to pull a wet extension cord out of an outside outlet.
• Always use UL OUTSIDE approved devices.
• Use a GFI Outlet that can be turned off from inside the house.
• Never wrap lighting around metal objects.
• Inspect all lights new or old before you use them.
• When working with a ladder be extra careful in wet conditions and have someone watching you in case you fall.
• Use Low Voltage Lights or Solar lights to save money and improve safety.
Have a Happy and Safe Holiday
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