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Scherer Electric Blog

Electrical Safety Tips for Christmas Lighting


It’s a different holiday season this year, but even if you’ll spend most of your festive family time in your house, that doesn’t mean you can’t put up great colorful light displays. Whether on the inside or outside of your house, these Christmas lights can brighten up the season.

However, light displays can also create major electrical hazards unless people take precautions. As professional electricians in Orchard Park, NY, we’ve seen our share of electrical mishaps due to Christmas lights, which can range from damage to the electrical system to electrical fires. We’d like to share some basic safety tips for your holiday lights so you can enjoy a season of warmth and family without worrying about power outages, high voltage shocks, or electrical fires.

Use weatherproof lights for outdoors

When you purchase lighting, make sure you check the packaging to see if the lights are rated for only indoor use. You don’t want to use lights that aren’t properly weatherproofed for the exterior of your house—especially not in the weather of Western New York. Also check for the UL seal, which means the lights meet national standards set by the American National Standards Institute. 

Be cautious with extension cords

Extension cords get the most use during the end of the year because of lighting displays. However, extension cords indoors can turn into tripping hazards, and they should only be plugged into power strips to avoid overloads. Don’t plug them directly into outlets. 

Do not overload the outlets

We have to stress again that you should have power strips for any light strips, and you should avoid maxing-out the outlets on all these strips (or plugging more power strips into them). Too many light strips plugged into one outlet is more likely to cause a circuit breaker to trip. If a breaker trips, don’t just reset it: reduce the electrical load on the outlet.

Do not exceed three consecutive strands of lights

You can string together light strands to reach farther and farther, but we don’t advise you string together more than three. This is the recommendation of the Electrical Safety Foundation. 

Plug lights into GFCI outlets

GFCI outlets are the outlets that have the buttons between the sockets (TEST and RESET), which help to protect people from receiving electrical shocks through anything plugged into them. Restrict light strips to these outlets. If you don’t have these outlets in your home, we strongly advise you contact electricians to upgrade your house to them. It’s not only good for holiday lights, it’s good for all year.

Use LED lights

LED lights are more energy efficient, which helps you to save money with your light displays. But LED lights also put out far less heat than standard bulbs, and this makes them safer options, in particular for use on Christmas trees. 

Upgrade an old electrical panel

Here’s another big change that works far beyond the holiday season. If you have an electrical panel more than 10 years old, have our electricians examine it to see if it should be upgraded so it can safely handle your home’s current electrical load.

Scherer Electric is Western New York’s Favorite Electrician! Call us to schedule your local electrical services. 

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