Mounting string lights and decorations to your home’s exterior definitely ups its “merry and bright” factor. If not installed using the proper precautions, you could be setting up your electrical wiring for some serious damage.

Before you grab your hammer and ladder, review our list of dos and don’ts for mounting holiday lights on your home safely. Apollo Home takes your safety seriously. If you have concerns, we can provide numerous electrical services for your home.

DO Examine Lights Before Hanging

Return or toss any sets with cracked or broken sockets, loose connections, or frayed or bare wires. Replace burned out bulbs promptly with bulbs of the same wattage. Hanging lights with damaged electrical wiring can lead to a potentially flammable short.

DON’T Hang Too Many in the Same Outlet or Extension Cord

Each standard circuit breaker can handle about 15 amps of current. Light strings only draw a few milliamps individually. However, when you add too many strings together, you could overdraw power.

This could cause some serious damage to your electrical wiring. Plus, the more lights you connect end-to-end, the further the power must travel, leading to not-so-bright lights.

DO Use Verified Outdoor Outlets to Support Your Electrical Wiring

Only use lights tested, rated and approved by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Intertek (ETL Semko) for outdoor use. These safety ratings should be clearly marked, both on the packaging and with labels attached to the electrical cords.

You should also plug in all outdoor electrical decorations into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). A safety outlet is designed to protect your home’s electrical wiring by disconnecting in the event of a leak.

You can buy portable GFCI units for outdoor use or have one of the licensed electricians at Apollo Home permanently install them for you.

DON’T Use Staples, Tacks, or Nails – It Can Damage Your Electrical Wiring

It’s fairly common for a string of holiday lights to have exposed electrical wiring in some areas. That fact combined with any type of metal fastener is a potential recipe for disaster when sitting on top of your roof or along your gutters because the metal can turn your home into a live wire.

Instead, use insulated holders or plastic roof clips designed especially for hanging outdoor holiday lights.

DO Consider Using LEDs over Incandescent Bulbs

LED lights are about 75 percent more efficient than conventional incandescent lights. This can make your electrical load more than seven times smaller, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. If you don’t have LED lights, consider using the cooler-burning “mini” holiday lights instead of the traditional larger bulbs, which burn much hotter.

DON’T Connect LEDs and Incandescent Lights Together

Because incandescent light strings require a larger power current than LEDs, connecting them together one after the other will cause the power drawn by the incandescent lights to overload — and then fry — the LED strings.

It’s better to keep the two separate, running each out of a different outlet to avoid frying your electrical wiring.

DO Ask for Help if You Need It

If installed incorrectly, holiday lights can damage to your home, and even dangerous. If you don’t feel comfortable with your outdoor electrical options, amount of outlets, or surge protection, consider hiring one of Apollo Home’s licensed electricians to upgrade your outdoor electrical system. Contact us today to schedule a service call!

Apollo Home – Electrical Wiring and Other Electrical Projects

Our licensed electricians help homeowners with all sorts of home improvement projects. Want to swap out light fixtures or install a ceiling fan? We’ve got you covered. Want to incorporate power into an outdoor entertaining space or install exterior lighting around a pool? Apollo Home is all over it. Call us or schedule service online.