As Christmas nears and your decoration are hung with care, nothing becomes more frustrating than having all or part of your Christmas lights quit working.
We have all been there, the tree is trimmed, wreaths are looking great, garlands are perfectly placed and the outdoor lighting is just magical. Everything is just as you envisioned it, and then, some of your lights quit working with no advance notice or warning.
What happened?!? Christmas lights can be finicky and very frustrating especially when they quit working. Here are some tips I have learned along the way which may help you out.
Knowing how many bulbs are on your set is very important. The most common 50 and 100 light sets require a 2.5 volt bulb. Thirty-five lights sets need 3.5 volt bulbs, 20 lights require 6 volt bulbs and 10 light sets require 12 volt replacement bulbs. If you do not know how many bulbs are on your string or the voltage they require, check the white tag near the plug. It will tell you what voltage bulbs you need for that set. Mixing the wrong voltage in your sets will cause other bulbs to blow out quicker.
The next thing you need to remember is to save your bases from your sets. If you buy ten different sets, you probably will have ten different bases which will not interchange with each other. Upon close examination of your light bulbs, you will notice the bulb is threaded through the base and wires are bent up on both each side of the base. Replacement bulbs can be easily replaced by bending wires straight, pulling out bad bulb, inserting new bulb and then bending wires back up on sides of base. When you reinsert the base into the set, these wires make contact with metal sides of the light set completing the circuit and allowing bulbs to illuminate.
A routine I use when dealing with lights is to check them before you start to decorate. Replace any bad bulbs you find with new ones. When actually decorating with the lights, I make sure they are plugged in. In this way, you can sometimes avoid a problem with a loose bulb or wire as you are stringing them into a wreath or tree. Make sure you read the instructions on your set and follow the recommended guidelines on how many sets you can connect end to end. By exceeding the recommendations, you can blow fuses in the sets and have all of them go out. If you do find sets which have bare wires or are damaged, thrown them out.
Lights sets may quit working due to a missing bulb or a broken bulb. A wire may not be making good contact in the light set. The most frustrating of all is when a light set failure occurs when an individual bulb "shunt" fails to energize. These shunts are energized when a filament burns out in the light bulb. The shunt interrupts the flow of electricity through the rest of the set. What's one to do?
After dealing with light sets for more than thirty-five years, a tool finally exists which I would endorse, called the "Lightkeeper pro", which can be a lifesaver. This gun works many different ways. Simply remove a bulb and insert socket into gun and click several times. The gun sends a burst of electricity through the set which bypasses the shunt and illuminates the rest of the set. Simply find the burned out bulb, replace it, and you're as good as new. This tool also has a continuity or voltage detector which when run across a light set spread out on the table or floor will show you where the electricity stops. When this happens, you have found the bad bulb which needs replaced. A light tester is also on the gun where you can test each individual bulb. Simply insert, if it lights, that bulb is good. Move on to the next one and sooner or later you will find the bad culprit.
Although the Lightkeeper pro is not 100% guarantee to fix every set, it does help. It is great for Christmas trees where sections are out. It is one of the easiest light fixing devices I have ever used.
A couple other things to remember is the cheaper the lights, the cheaper the bulbs. Lights can be rated from 1000 to 3000 hours of burn life. Depending on usage, light sets can last one to three years on average. I have had some clients who have kept sets going for as long as 12 years. By remembering to replace burned out bulbs as soon as they expire, this keeps the sets going.
You may reach a point where many bulbs on a strand are burnt out and blackened. When this occurs, its probably best to throw in the towel and replace the set. You can change out each bulb with new ones, but it will take some time to accomplish this.
For those who have become discouraged with pre-lit trees and non-functioning lights, a solution has finally been developed. Snake Lights are new led "rice" size bulbs which are available in clear or multi color light sets. These lights sets are available in 36.5' lengths containing 500 bulbs or 73' length with 1000 bulbs on a set. The beauty of this set is, it it very easy to snake it through your tree with out tons of wrapping and twisting. The low voltage led light sets last approximately 60,000 hours. They have the potential to last 20 years!! They are designed for inside and outdoors and come with an eight light function remote which, fades, chases, twinkles and more. They are very durable and can be stepped on and banged against the floor with no problems occurring. With a cost around 39.99 to 59.99, one can easily replace or add more lights to their tree with little effort. I am very impressed with these lights. A built in 8 hour timer has been added as well. Also new are the 15' long cluster lights, battery operated sets, which will last a whole season on two "d" size batteries. This is great for exterior decorating where no electric source is close by. Not many "new" game changer items come out too often in the Christmas world. The snake and cluster lights are one of these items. Check them out before they are sold out.
Hopefully, knowing these helpful tips will help shed some light on your malfunctioning Christmas Lights. From all of us here at Pandy's, we sincerely hope your Christmas will be Merry and Bright
-JR Pandy, "The No B.S. Gardener
Taken from pandysgardencenter.com
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa