Holiday Lighting Tips

This year is rapidly drawing to a close and that means the holiday lighting season is back. If your home is in need of a decorative refresh, here are some tips to take your artistic stylings to the next level.

As always, safety comes first. Most of these tips apply equally to inside and outside decorating activities and for installation at most any height:

  • Have a ground crew (one or two people) to steady your ladder and pass up the decorations. They are an invaluable part of safety and keep you supplied with untangled light strings and fasteners.
  • Remember to keep a safe distance from your overhead electric service.
  • Don’t overreach. If you cannot get to a point with your body completely centered between the sides of the ladder, get down and relocate it.
  • Don’t overextend the ladder. If your ladder is too short, rent or borrow a longer one. A ladder extended beyond its working limits is dangerous, as is standing on rungs too close to the top.
  • Do not overload circuits by stringing more light sets together than the manufacturer recommends. Check the packaging for details.
  • Check your wires for breaks and cracks in the insulation that can lead to shorts.


Light selection is important. If at all possible, invest in LED lights this season. Unlike the first LED versions that were characterized by rather harsh and unattractive colors, the newest generation’s colors are more reminiscent of the former incandescent lights.

Why go the LED route? Longevity and operating cost are the two key reasons. Unlike incandescent lights, whether the large or mini bulb, LEDs will last for many, many years. LEDs have no filaments to burn out. Aside from physically destroying the bulb, the LED is amazingly robust. Given the modest number of hours of operation, you can expect LEDs to last seven or more years.

There is also a benefit in the cost of operating LEDs. A reasonable estimate of power consumption is 7 watts per 100 lights. How does that compare to the old incandescent? Each of those bulbs used 12 watts so a string of 100 devoured 1200 watts.

If you truly want to manage the cost of operating holiday lights, invest in timers to turn the lights on and off automatically. You can also purchase a smart plug for your lights, which allows you to program and control them from your smart phone.

Holiday lights are a true treasure of the season, and by installing them safely and efficiently, you can ensure your display brings joy to people of all ages.