Want smarter holiday lights than Clark Griswold's? avoid a string of disasters


holiday lightsNo one wants to repeat Clark W. Griswold's holiday lighting misadventures as portrayed in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Fortunately, we now have the benefit of ever-improving technology, user-friendly DIY tools and better know-how that will keep light installation from becoming a holiday nightmare. 

What's trending

  • A star-like effect is one the newest looks in holiday lights made possible by newer technology. Rather than seeing trees encircled in strings of lights, we now see a more random look as you would when gazing up at stars in the sky. Catch a glimpse of this effect in photos of Old Town in Fort Collins.
  • Less is better. Lighting designers caution against over-doing lights in deciduous trees. Because trees look different at night than in the day, it's not always necessary to take lights to the tip top of the tree or to the end of every branch. 

Smarter technology 

  • If your beloved icicle lights twisted into dreadlocks in the wind, there's now a solution. Icicle lights are of more rigid construction so the icicles won't blow around and tangle.
  • LEDs have an amazing shelf life. Ratings on the labels of top quality lights now read as high as 50,000 to 60,000 hours. If you turn lights on from 5 pm to 11 pm for 60 days, that's only 360 hours per season and that puts their extended shelf life well over 100 years! 
  • How we connect strings of lights is moving toward coaxial cable connections that are stronger and more wind resistant than prongs in plugs. You're less likely to be up in a tree to re-connect plugs that are 15 feet off the ground.
  • For DIY installs, telescoping tools now available allow you to stand on the ground and reach as high as about 20 feet. If your trees are higher than you can place lights while standing with both feet flat on the ground, call a pro who has the equipment to do the job safely. 
  • LED lighting offers movement in the bulbs themselves, an innovation that makes traditional chasing lights obsolete.

Time-saving tips 

  • Commercial installers recommend powering up lights before installation begins so you are sure to know they are working. If a diode fails early in the installation or a breeze creates a short due to a defective wire, you can address it immediately before all the lights are up. 
  • After the holidays, avoid throwing a jumbled mess of lights into a plastic tote. Installation will be easier next year if you make note of where specific lights were hung and you have a storage plan that keeps lights organized.

lighted houseFewer blown circuits
Unlike Clark Griswold, you probably won't blow out a circuit by connecting many strings of LEDs together. Nevertheless, as with any electrical device, know the capacity of each receptacle and plan your lighting display accordingly. 

Need help with holiday lighting? Find a Pro who has the design skills and equipment to create your vision safely and efficiently by searching Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado with members in six chapters statewide.

 
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