It’s the most wonderful time of the year again. Millions of homes across the country are taking their twinkle lights, ornaments, and mechanical Santas out of their garages and basements, ready to take on the festive holiday activity of decorating. While Christmas decorating is exciting, it’s important to make sure that your Christmas lights won’t create a fire hazard or worse -- shut down the entire power grid..
Electrical outlets are usually rated for 15 amps or 20 amps of electrical current. The amp rating tells you how many devices one circuit can accommodate without tripping the circuit breaker. Generally, you shouldn’t load a single circuit over eighty percent, which means that a 15-amp circuit can handle only 12 amps, while a 20-amp circuit can handle only 16 amps. Before plugging in your Christmas lights into the outlets, it’s important to add up their amperage to prevent overloading the circuit
The packaging of light sets typically indicates their amperage rating. If it only contains the wattage, simply divide the number by 120 to determine the amperage. For example, if a string of lights uses 175 watts, then the amperage draw would be 1.46. This means that a single 15-amp circuit can safely handle around seven of these lights, but it’s best not to push the circuit to its limits and use fewer lights. Keep in mind that if other appliances are using the same circuit, less power will be available for the Christmas lights.
Tripping your circuit breaker during the holidays can really put a damper on your festivities. Follow the tips below to avoid blowing a fuse because of your Christmas lights:
LED lights are more economical than typical incandescent lights. They also reduce the electrical load by up to seven times, which can easily prevent circuit overload problems. LED lights don’t get hot to the touch, making them a lot safer, especially for homes that have young children.
Instead of plugging your Christmas lights directly into outlets, plug them into surge-protected power strips. This protects your appliances from damage caused by voltage spikes. Avoid creating a “chain” of power strips as this is the easiest way to overload a circuit.
Don’t plug your outdoor lights, Christmas tree, mechanical reindeer, etc. into a single circuit. If possible, plug your decorations into their own circuits to avoid tripping your breaker. Remember that each decoration has its own wattage -- a light-up Santa definitely requires more power than a string of fairy lights.
This holiday season, being smart about your decorations can save you from major problems like overloading your circuit, tripping your breaker, or blowing a fuse. By following the tips above, you can spend the Christmas season without worrying about your lights going off. If you want to be 100% sure that you won’t run into electrical trouble, it’s best to call the experts. They can help make sure that your lights won’t cause any problems all through January.