Putting up the Christmas decorations is a fun part of the season that gets your whole neighbourhood in the festive spirit. Whether you like to keep up with the Joneses or set the trends yourself, it’s important to understand how to safely hang outdoor Christmas lights.
If you love bringing a bit of festive spirit, and can’t wait to adorn your front garden with glowing tree lights or flashing icicle lights, don’t worry. In this guide, we cover exactly what you need to know about putting up the perfect Christmas display outside.
6 Ways to Stay Safe When Installing Outdoor Lights
- Ensure the lights you have are suitable for outdoor use
It’s important that you choose lights that are specifically for outdoor use. These days, they come in all shapes and sizes — from snowmen lights to icicle designs — but they will always be clearly marked. Indoor lights cannot be used outdoors, as they are not weatherproof.
- Inspect the lights for damage
Before you start to hang them, you should always check your lights for damage: inspecting both the bulbs and the cables. Plug your lights in so that you can identify any missing bulbs, and if needed, you can replace them before you hang them. If you cannot find a replacement, and know that the bulb is broken beforehand, you can accommodate that into your design, doubling back with the cable so that the missing bulb isn’t obvious.
You should also check the lead and cable — if there is any damage to this, you should replace the lights immediately. If the naked wire gets wet, it could be an electrical shock hazard.
- Enlist a helper
You should always work in pairs when installing outdoor Christmas lights, as it can be dangerous to work at height alone.
Use the help of the second person to steady the ladder and direct you towards where they should be installed. Remove all distractions so you can safely get on with the task at hand.
- Use safe electrics
You will need an outdoor electrical outlet or a weatherproof extension lead in order to have lights outside, but if you don’t have either, long life battery powered lights or even solar-powered are a great solution.
External electrics will need to be under a cover in order to keep the plug safe from the elements. If you have a big display, remember to plug your lights into an outdoor rated surge protector — especially if you use LEDs. Whether you’re using an external socket or extension lead, measure the distance from the plug to where you want to hang your lights before you start to hang to make sure your lights will be long enough.
- Be careful working at height
Keep accessibility in mind when considering where you’d like to install your lights: how about around the garage or in a bush, rather than a tree or around the top of your house? Design your lights in a way that minimises your time spent up a ladder in order to protect your safety.
When working at height, you should always put your ladder on solid, level ground, and have somebody hold it in place as you climb. Use decorating clips or gutter hooks rather than cable ties to mount the lights so that you don’t have to fiddle about with both hands up a ladder.
To work out how many clips or gutter hooks you’ll need to securely hang your lights, use our handy guide:
- For lightweight bulbs — you’ll need one clip or hook for every 50cm of the length of your lights. So, divide the total length from the first to the last bulb by 50 cm. For example, for 6 metres of string lights, you’d need 12 hooks.
- For heavier bulbs (icicles or decorative bulbs) — you’ll need one clip for every 30cm. For example, for 6 metres of cable, you’ll need 20 clips.
- Automatic timers
Once installed, make sure that you use automatic timers to make sure your festive lights come on. Don’t feel like you need to have them on all the time — as this could drastically increase your electricity bill. Instead, have them on as soon as it gets dark until the time you go to bed so that neighbours and passers-by can enjoy them too.
However, some people do prefer to leave them on even when they are out of the house, as it could be a deterrent for burglars.
Christmas lights safety
So whether you’re new to outdoor Christmas lights or just want to ensure that you do it properly, we hope our handy guide covers everything you need to consider when installing lights this winter.
Shop Outdoor Christmas Lights at All Round Fun today.