Use the right tools. Use a reliable, sturdy ladder, and get a helper if you can. Outdoor lighting requires a lot of lifting, careful placement and aligning, which is much easier to do with a helper (or two).
If you work alone, use a basket or bucket with a handle to haul your materials up and down. Put a nail or an S hook on the ladder so you can hang your tote bucket. Limit the number of times you go up and down the ladder, but do not lean to reach anything.
When you can’t reach the next position, move the ladder. Do one step of the project to its completion before you begin the next phase. You can run an extension cord through a window. You will probably not be able to close the window all the way, but you can block up any air gaps with a towel.
Is it safe to string outdoor lights on aluminum porch railing? (The railing has baked on enamel paint.)
You might be using too much energy to charge the lights. Try reducing the number of Christmas lights per power source.
Hang the lights. Start at the power source and follow the fasteners to the end of the project. Hang one string, then plug in the next string, end-to-end. Don’t cut corners by plugging all the strings together.
Don’t connect more than three sets together, or you risk overloads and chances for fire. Be certain that the light string cords are secure in or on the fastener. You don’t want wind, birds, small animals, or Santa to knock them off!
Get some inspiration. If you’re short on ideas, do a search on Google, or browse through a few magazines for ideas that may be suitable for your own use.
Time to deck the halls, walls, mantles, and trees, and best of all, hang up the Christmas lights! Decorating the outside of your house will show your Christmas cheer to your neighbors and passersby. It’s also a chance to show off your house a little. With some patience and a bit of creativity, you’ll have a house that outshines all the others.
Three Parts:Choose a Suitable Lighting DisplayPreparing the Lighting and Display AreasPut Up the LightingCommunity Q&A
Buy a real pine wreath and put it on the door. Then stake an E17 LED warm-white bulb a couple of feet back from the door and aim it at the wreath. It says, “I acknowledge that it is Christmas, but I am not getting up on my roof for anything short of a DirecTV catastrophe.”
Evenly spaced tree lighting says, “I have goals and enjoy achieving them.” Unevenly spaced tree lighting says, “Hey! Come take a look at this before I flush it!” Decorate accordingly.
The difference between a stately display and a glaring pile of festivity is in the color and number of bulbs. Use a multicolored strand along the gutter; under that, string icicle lights. Vary the size between the bulbs. Bigger C9 bulbs go along the roofline and gutters; C7s are better for the perimeters of windows. You can wrap a garland in minilights. You can wrap your mailbox. You can splay net lighting over your bushes. But please, no blow-up or animatronic lawn decorations. These invite an awkward conversation with your 6-year-old after the deer on your lawn are rearranged in lewd positions by stealthy neighborhood teens.
There is such a thing as too many blow up figures, deer and other lawn ornaments. Keep it neat. Keeping in touch with your neighbors displays will help lend a unified look to your neighborhood. LED lights are more bright and energy efficient than older style Christmas lights.
Less is more. Don’t turn your house into the sun. This not only wastes electricity, but can be disruptive to your neighbors. Your house will look better if it is lit, but not blinding.
BONUS TIPS Want to win the admiration of your entire neighborhood? Put lights along the ridgeline of your roof.
Locate the power sources nearest the roof line. It will probably be on the porch, as most houses do not have a power outlet near the roof. You’re going to need at least one good extension cord. Select an exterior cord which is compatible with your lights, and with the weather it will endure.
If you have a porch light that’s shielded from the elements, you may be able to insert a socket adapter that places a power socket between the fixture and the lamp. If you have an exterior outlet somewhere on the house, install your extension cord from the outlet to the roof line keeping the cord as close to the building as possible.
Be sure the outlet is protected from rain, snow and sprinklers.
3. TREES You could use net lights, but that’s kind of a cop-out. Instead, wrap regular minilights around the trunk and branches. To determine how many feet of lighting you need, divide the height of the trunk by the desired spacing between each strip of lights; about 3 inches is ideal. Then multiply that number by the trunk’s circumference. Do the same calculation for any large branches you want to wrap. First, wind the lights up the tree, leaving about 6 inches between each pass. Continue on to the branches, then wrap back down into the empty spaces. That will give you the desired 3-inch spacing. So, for a 6-foot-tall trunk with a circumference of 2 feet, divide 72 inches by 3 inches of spacing, for a total of 24. Multiply 24 by the 2-foot circumference, for 48 feet of lights.
INCANDESCENT Classic, filament-based bulbs that give off a warm glow.
Despite neighborhood peer pressure, you and you alone dictate the aesthetic direction of your home’s holiday display. He who wields the extension ladder in subzero temperatures earns the creative freedom to decorate his yard however he pleases.
Check out your work. Get down to the ground, turn on the lights and stand back away from the house. Check for uniformity. Get a second pair of eyes from a family member or a neighbor. Good job!
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2. LAYOUT Place the first bulb from the male end of a strand on the corner of your eave that’s closest to an outlet. Now extend the line around the exterior of the house, keeping the string taut. Secure the lights with gutter clips so they don’t creep up the roof. These are cheap, so buy a bunch. A discreet extension cord will connect the lights to the outlet.
Yes, that is fine, as long as the lights and cords have a good insulator, such as plastic, or rubber.
RGB LED Programmable diodes that can display almost any color.
You could use both, but make sure that the power strip is an outdoor power strip.
BONUS TIP To avoid the dreaded Gordian knot of Christmas, wrap your lights around a coffee can before storing them.
For a traditional look, keep the lights white and dedicated to three spaces: along gutters or eaves, in windows, and on larger trees or bushes. Aim for symmetry. And remember: There are three varieties of white LED lights. Warm white mimics the glow of classic incandescent bulbs. Polar white gives off an icy-blue tinge. And pure white is just what it sounds like. Ideally, you want a mix. Place warm-white strands along the eaves or gutters, and offset those with polar-white lights in your greenery. The two tones play off each other well. Avoid pure-white bulbs. They can make your home look like an enormous headlight.
Lawn ornaments (snowmen, Santa, deer) are clever and eye-catching. Be very careful, especially if you have a small yard; it fills up quickly. Keep the safety of your own children and your visitors and guests in mind.
A maze of electrical cords hidden in the yard can be hazardous to people and pets. Beware of lead exposure. There is some lead in the PVC insulation material used on most Christmas light wires. If you are concerned about exposure to small amounts of lead, wash your hands after handling the lights—or wear rubber gloves.
Examine the lights before you get started. Make certain that they all work and that there are no frayed areas in the cords before you take them up the ladder. Avoid repairing frayed cords. Dispose of the entire string if you find damaged cords—it is not worth the risk of fire.
Walk around your neighborhood. Borrow ideas that catch your fancy, but avoid copying another house exactly. That won’t look good for either house. If you’re new to the neighborhood, visit with your neighbors and find out what people generally do for holiday lighting.
You may discover that your street is the street to visit during Christmas, and that everybody goes overboard on lighting.
1. LIGHTS Before you start, make a plan. Measure the locations where you will string lights. Most likely this will be along eaves or gutters and around windows. Use this plan to estimate how many strands you’ll need and how long they should be. Unfortunately, there are no standard strand lengths, but there are standard-size bulbs and standard distances between bulbs on a strand. Look for C7- or C9-size bulbs spaced 6 to 8 inches apart. A longer distance between bulbs allows for more light to spread across a wider area, creating more picturesque shadows and greater warmth.
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Check out home furnishing stores. Especially the high-end ones. You’ll find excellent ideas for dressing up your windows inside. This treatment becomes part of the view from the outside.
Usually, you would put your Christmas lights up before any of the other decorations.
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Português: Decorar a Casa com Luzinhas de Natal, Español: poner las luces de navidad en el exterior de la casa, Italiano: Sistemare le Luci Natalizie all’Esterno della Tua Casa, 中文: 在屋外布置圣诞彩灯, Français: décorer son jardin pour Noël, Русский: украсить двор рождественскими гирляндами, Deutsch: Weihnachtsbeleuchtung für draußen anbringen, Bahasa Indonesia: Memasang Lampu Natal di Luar Rumah
Follow these tips for hanging outdoor Christmas lights, and step back and enjoy your masterpiece when you’re done.
BONUS TIP To create a well-proportioned light tree, tape the ends of the strands to a hoop.
4. ELECTRICIANS Most blown fuses are caused by moisture getting into the connectors that attach strings of lights to each other. Sealing each connection and the loose ends of a string with duct or electrical tape will keep everything dry.
Install fasteners. Pre-installed hooks or holders over which to drape the extension cord(s) and the light strings will make it much easier to hang your lights. Space the fasteners uniformly with the distance of area between the bulbs on the light strings.
(Finish this step completely before you start hanging the lights.) Note! While nails, screws and other metallic fasteners seem an easy answer, they are conductors of electricity, they rust, and they put holes into your structure.
There are many products on the market made of rubber or heavy duty plastic designed for hanging electrical cords. Consult the sales staff at a reputable hardware store. Tell them what you will be doing with them.
They’re fairly inexpensive and easy to install. Look for fasteners with a moisture resistant, peel-and-stick backing that will hold up to ten pounds.
Go crazy! If you’re really after an eye-grabbing lighting display, consider hooking up a control system to make your Christmas lights flash to music.
Unlike strands of old, today’s lights will stay lit even if a bulb goes out, so long as the broken bulb remains in place and completes the circuit.
CERAMIC Opaque and look as if they’ve been painted. A classic.
After completing the roof line, decorate the other elements of your home. Columns: Combining the light strings with holiday garland (natural or artificial) will enable you to wrap a column (barber pole style) with ease.
The additional bulk of a garland will help avoid slippage of the light strings and add a little pizazz, too! If you need a little adhesion, space and hide small pieces of removable tacky clay behind the string garland.
Removable tacky clay is available at reputable craft or hardware stores. Porch Railing: Open baluster style: Using the same barber pole technique with garland, loop the light strings over and under the railing.
Secure it as needed with removable tacky clay. Porch Railing: Along the top of the porch enclosure (one that is like a ½ wall) use the rubber or plastic, peel and stick fasteners that were used along the roof line.
Note: these fasteners may be ineffective on concrete or stucco. Windows: Place around, over and under windows in such a way as to frame the windows. Fences: Use the same techniques as on the porch railings.
Trees: There are a variety of solutions for trees. Either use the traditional wrap as you do with indoor trees, or use a net of lights that drape over the top of the tree. You can also use single strands connected to a heavy-duty extension cord with multiple taps, and trace the branches of your trees with white or colored lights.
Use plastic-coated twist ties to secure the lighting to the limbs.
Align the Christmas lighting display with the style of your home. Is your home a modern house, a Tudor, or a Victorian? Is a basic tract house or multi-storey? A lighting display should complement both the style of the house and the style of the neighborhood without spoiling it or looking garish.
Some considerations to bear in mind: For a Victorian style house, there may well be no such thing as “over the top”. But elegance is a key factor. Strings, strings and more strings of lights around every architectural feature of the house will enhance its stature, making your home the neighborhood beacon of holiday cheer.
A ranch-style or single story home calls for lights around the roof line, the fence and along your entrance walkway. Multi-storey homes call for the same basic theory as a Victorian, with less “fluff”.
String lights along the roof line, around columns, along the porch railing.
Do I use separate extension cords when I have multiple lighted characters in the yard, or do I use some kind of outside power strip?
It would be not safe because they are plugged in to your house and could shock you or cut out your power.
WIDE-ANGLE LED Nubbed LEDs with concave tips that throw light.
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