Photo from Christmas Decor
Electrical Safety First
Before planning a design and pulling out the ladder, inspect your holiday lighting supplies for any electrical concerns.
Outlets: You want to plug any lights into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet, says Keith Pinkerton of Mr. Electric in Huntsville, Alabama. This outlet is designed to shut off the power when it detects a current flowing along an unintended path. This feature helps prevent electrical shock and house fires. You can recognize these outlets because they have a “test” button on them. Before you start plugging in lights, test these outlets to ensure that they are working correctly, Pinkerton says. If you have any concerns, contact an electrician.
Extension cords: Check that your extension cords are UL certified for how you are planning to use them. You’ll especially want to look at whether they are for indoor or outdoor use. “Anymore, you can find cords of all lengths, colors and widths that will do the job safely,” Pinkerton says. If you’re unsure about your cord, it’s worth investing in a new one.
Light strings: Replace any light strings with damaged or frayed installation, Pinkerton says. “It’s not worth your house or shed burning down and harming someone,” he says. “They are really only intended to work how they are, and not repaired.” If it’s only a bad bulb, you can replace that without replacing the whole light string.
At this time, you’ll also want to check if your light strings are UL certified. Indoor lights will have a green UL tag or a silver tag with “UL” in green. Outdoor lights will have a red UL tag or a silver tag with “UL” written in red. “Even if you found the best deal in town, you don’t want to use them if they aren’t UL listed,” Pinkerton says.
If you’re looking to replace, Pinkerton recommends looking for an LED option, as they consume less power and have a lower risk of electrical fire.
Recycle old lights: Local recycling facilities will many times take your old light strings. Check with your local recycling facility before tossing your old, nonworking lights in the trash.