'Tis the season of holiday lights
Simpler is better
Whether it's your time and effort, the expense incurred or how the display will ultimately look, your life will be simplified if you stop short of a huge lighting extravaganza. Take a careful look at your yard and use holiday lights to play off of the focal points and architecture already in place. Using trees, fences and the roofline of the home are standard.
What else do you have?
A gate, gazebo, outdoor fireplace, patio and porch posts and even the rim around raised planting beds can be showy locations for holiday lights and sometimes with easier access than the second story roof. Be creative with planters, yard art or even a wheelbarrow or wagon filled with evergreens. Take advantage of what you already have for a one-of-a kind lighting statement.
Simple also relates to color.
If you use plain white bulbs or mix them with one or two colors, you will avoid a busy and distracting display.
Consider LED lighting
Because LED lights do not heat up like incandescent bulbs do, they are less of a fire hazard both inside and out. They also require less power and are generally more user-friendly to install and manage. If you drop an LED bulb from the second story rooftop on the sidewalk below, it probably won't break. LEDs are more expensive to purchase, but the additional cost will be offset over time because LED lamps last 4-5 times longer than traditional lights. They also use about 90% less power.
Don't think less power means less caution, however.
LEDs should be used with safety in mind as with any other electrical device. Though LEDs typically require fewer power sources, they can still overload circuits.
Points to consider when installing LEDs or incandescent lights:
- Know how to use a voltage meter to avoid overloading circuits.
- Use only outdoor rated extension cords and outlets and keep cords above ground, snow and water, if possible. Wrap outlets in plastic bags and secure with electrical tape.
- Make sure power comes from a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet. It will shut down automatically if there is too much current.
- Never plug incandescent strings into the same power source as LEDs because their voltages are completely different.
If your lighting project is DIY, follow in the footsteps of the pros to be safe when installing lights:
- Never be on a rooftop or on ladders during snowy, icy or windy conditions.
- Know how to set a ladder at the proper angle and maintain 3 points of contact at all times.
- Even if you are only 1 step off the ground, wear a helmet.
- Have a spotter on the ground when anyone is on a ladder.
If overhead electrical lines are around your property, avoid hanging lights or being on a ladder near them.