Posted on Dec 20th 2022
Christmas lights are a fun and festive way to get into the holiday spirit, but even the most stunning light displays come with concerns. Installing lights on an overloaded circuit or circuits is a major fire hazard. Before you deck the halls with a holiday light show, consider installing new circuits to power your Christmas lights and avoid any electrical emergencies this season. You don’t want your light show overshadowed by the lights accompanying a fire truck or an ambulance!
Christmas lights may seem like a small addition to your average energy usage. However, they may use more energy than you think, depending on the size and type of bulb. Since lights aren’t one–size–fits–all for energy use, you should always be conscious of exactly how much electricity your Christmas lights are using during the holidays. That way, you’ll know how much is too much for your circuits.
While overloading your circuits won’t cause a power outage across your entire town, it does create a fire hazard. There are a few ways to avoid a circuit overload and determine whether you need additional circuits for the holidays.
Knowing exactly what your outlets can and cannot handle will help determine whether you need additional circuits. Circuit breakers contain specific amperage ratings that tell you how many lights and other devices the circuit can handle without tripping.
The average household receptacle circuit can manage between 15–20 amps of electrical current. But don't push your luck by going all the way up to 20 amps. The safest rule of thumb is never to cross the 80% threshold of your circuits' amperage. So if your home has a 20 amp circuit, it can only safely handle 16 amps. Anything above that puts you at risk for power failures or fire hazards. To check the circuit amperage, look for the amperage number marked on the handle of your breaker's electric panel.
To figure out how many lights you can put on a single circuit, simply add up the amperage. Doing this before you start plugging lights in can help prevent fire hazards and power outages. Most string lights contain the amperage rating either on their packaging or on the tag or plug of the light cord. If you can only find the wattage number, divide this by 120 to find the amperage. Turns out all that math you learned in school does come in handy!
If you’re planning a big light show this Christmas, do so safely. If your circuits won’t support your plans, contact the professional residential electricians of Custom Electrical Services to install dedicated new circuits for Christmas lights. That way, you can put up as many Christmas lights as you want without worrying about starting a fire or tripping your circuit breaker.
Custom Electrical Services is proud to provide custom electrical solutions for customers across Utah. Our team of licensed and insured electrical technicians can help you ensure your family’s safety this Christmas with new circuits just in time for the holidays. Contact us today to learn more!