How Many Christmas Lights Can I Safely String Together?

October 2, 2018 11:05 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The weather is starting to get cooler, and fall is officially here. We’re just a couple months away from Christmas, believe it or not, and many people are starting to think about getting their decorating done while the weather is still mild.

We frequently have homeowners ask us around this time of year about issues related to their exterior lighting displays. Probably the most common question of this type is how many strands of Christmas lights you can string together without it being an electrical danger.

There is no single overarching answer to this question—it depends on the type of lighting you’re using, and what else you have running on that circuit. But here’s some good general information about safe exterior lighting in Forsyth County, GA:

  • Determine your maximum load: Once you know which circuit you’re going to be plugging your lights into, find the breaker for that circuit on your electrical box, and note if it is a 15- or 20-amp circuit. Whether you’re using incandescent or LED bulbs, you should never go past 80 percent of the circuit’s capacity, so you can prevent overheating and potential fires. In other words, for a 15-amp circuit, you should never go past 1,440 total watts (that’s 80 percent of 1,800, the max load for a 15-amp) and for a 20-amp you should never go past 1,920 watts (80 percent of 2,400).
  • See what else you have running on that circuit: If you have other items around your home running off the same circuit you’ll be using for your Christmas lights, then that will reduce the number of lights you’re able to run on that circuit. You need to count all of the lighting and appliances you have toward that circuit load, making sure you stay under the 80 percent figure.
  • Note the wattage on your lights: The tag on your string lights or a label on the box should indicate the wattage of each strand of lights. In some cases, it may even provide you with information about the number of lights you can safely string together, which means you won’t have to do the math yourself.
  • Check for warnings: The Underwriters Laboratory (UL) will have tags on the lights that state you should not exceed a certain wattage number (usually 210). Therefore, you should divide 210 by the total number of watts used by each string, to give you the number of strings you can use per circuit. If you have a 20-watt strand, it means you can safely connect 10 of those strands together in a series. But remember, that number might be decreased if you’re sharing the circuit with other electrical objects or appliances.

Want to know more about our electrical services in Forsyth, GA and how we can help you with your other holiday lighting décor ideas this season? We encourage you to contact Duke Electric Co. today with your questions and we will be happy to provide you with thorough answers.

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