You may feel that a large light show is better for Christmas, but many strings of lights could cause short circuits or electrical fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are about 150 house fires, eight deaths, and 14 injuries annually from incorrect holiday lighting. Before starting your Christmas decorating, think about the appliances you use daily. New circuits could be necessary to create your Christmas display.
Prevent a Circuit Overload
Standard household circuits have at least 15 amps of electrical current, but newer homes can have many 20-amp ones. The outlets for the outside and the garage can be separate circuits. Lighting circuits are usually 15-amp. An amp rating tells you how many devices your circuits can handle. It would be best if you didn’t load a circuit over 80%, which means 20-amps can safely handle 16 amps, and 15-amps can handle 12 amps.
When amps overload the circuit, wires can overheat and cause fires. You may need to install a new circuit for a safer Christmas and have your wiring and electrical panel inspected before you start your holiday lighting.
Calculate Your Amperage
The light amperage can be on the package, tag, cord, or plug. Lights often give wattage instead of amperage. Divide the wattage by 120 to get the amperage. A string of lights that uses 250 watts uses 2.08 amps. Six of those strings of lights may fit on one circuit, but it’d be safer to use up to five. Those numbers assume there aren’t any other devices on that circuit. More items on an electrical circuit mean less electricity for your lights.
Every circuit in your home may serve several light fixtures and outlets. If you think you may be near the max amps, try splitting the Christmas lights between two circuits. You can check which outlets are connected by switching off the breaker and checking for power. If you have many devices in your home, it may be best to install a new circuit that is dedicated to your Christmas lights.
Device Overload Prevention
Some cheaper screw-in adapters for Christmas lights can overload the light fixture. An adapter in good condition that makes contact with the light fixture base can handle some Christmas lights. You can’t surpass the max amps on the circuit. Using several different light fixtures for your outdoor lighting is much safer. LED lights for Christmas are another way to use more lights in your display. LED lights are about 75% more efficient and allow about 20 extra lights per circuit.
Christmas yard lighting is fun but should be safe. Understand what your electrical circuits can handle even if you have a modest light show. If you think you could benefit from a new circuit installation in Conway, AR, call us at Money Electric.