You’re ready to decorate the outside of your home and realize you only have one outdoor outlet. How do you power your outdoor Christmas lights?
There are a few ways to power your outdoor Christmas light display.
- Use existing external outlets
- Use solar
- Use battery power
Using an existing outlet outside is the quickest and easiest way to power your holiday lights. However, it is not the only way. Let’s explore the options.
Use Existing External Outlets
While preparing to set your lights up, make a note of existing electrical outlets outside. These are the best places to plug your lights in. If you do not have outdoor outlets, you could use a light socket by using an adaptor that screws into your porch light fixture.
Run an Extension Cord from Inside the Home
No outlet to plug into outside? Use a heavy duty extension cord. If there are no electrical outlets and no porch light, it is possible to run an exterior grade extension cord from inside your home through a window or from the garage.
The heavy duty extension cords can handle the proper amount of electric needed to pass long distances easier than regular extension cords.
Some extension cords are made specifically for outdoor lighting and have multiple sockets with waterproof plugs built into them.
A heavy duty outdoor extension cord could be paired with a waterproof power stake. Some of these have built in photocells and timers, allowing them to turn on your decorations when it gets dark and turn them off at a time you choose. Other power stakes play music and have speakers built into them.
Use Solar Lights or Panels
If you want to decorate but do not want the power bill, solar is a wonderful option. There are so many beautiful solar powered Christmas light strands to choose from.
There’s an endless supply of creative ideas with these premade LED lights and solar panel kits. These lights often have color settings and pattern flash modes. Some can even connect to Bluetooth so they dance to the music you download from an app. How fun.
If you want a bit more power and the possibility of using existing led light strands, you could use a portable power system. These include solar panel, solar generator, and more. They are also reasonably priced. These portable power sources can be used in emergencies and while camping as well.
Using Batteries to Power Outdoor Lights
It’s true. You can power your outdoor lights with batteries. Some light displays come pre-installed with batteries. Again these fairy lights come in many colors and shapes. A neat idea with battery operated lights is the ability to decorate moving objects.
- Bicycles (with care)
12 Volt Batteries Can be Used
Use a 12 volt battery and an inverter. Rechargeable 12 volt lithium batteries or a car battery connected to an inverter will run Christmas lights. There are different types of 12 volt batteries. According to Battery stuff, there are five types of batteries.
- Flooded batteries
- Sealed Batteries
- Valve Regulated Lead Acid Batteries
- Absorbed Glass Mat Batteries
- Gel Batteries
Flooded batteries are found in vehicles. They have access areas for the user to add distilled water to the battery to prevent them from drying out.
Sealed batteries are the same as the flooded batteries, however, the user has no access to the interior of the battery.
VRLA or valve regulated lead batteries are also sealed batteries. They have valves on them to allow hydrogen and oxygen gasses to escape safely.
Absorbed glass mat, or AGM, batteries are an advanced form of VRLA batteries that allow a higher performance.
Gel batteries are the most sensitive batteries and require special gel profile chargers, so they do not over charge. They are often used in recreational vehicle deep cycle, wheelchairs, and trolling motors.
To use the battery and inverter combination, attach the inverter to the battery you chose with the cables and plug your lights into the outlets on the inverter.
Safety Precautions when Using Electricity and String Lights
Anytime we are working with electricity, we need to use caution. This is especially true outdoors, where there is a potential for rain and snow. There are many dangers associated when using electricity.
- Electrical shock
Every year we hear of Christmas lights causing fires inside and outside of homes. All it takes is a spark from faulty wiring, and a poorly grounded cord could shock a person or animal. Depending on the voltage emitted, this could cause death.
Prevention is your best precaution
- Use waterproof, heavy duty extension cords
- Low voltage decorative lights
- Do not overload your electrical outlets
- Do not place cords where they can be damaged
- Turn off Christmas lights
When using extension cords, be certain to heavy duty and waterproof ones. They are bulky, but they are well insulated and can tolerate a higher voltage through them without heating up.
The Don’ts of Extension Cords
Do not place your cords where they can be damaged or cause injury. Don’t close doors or windows on them. This could break the wires inside the cord. Do not lay them across driveways or sidewalks. If you must run an extension cord across a walkway or driveway, protect it with a cable ramp.
Even though cords and Christmas lights are waterproof, don’t let them sit in water or snow. Water could cause them to short and start a fire. To prevent water from getting into your cords, you can use a safety cover that clips onto the extension cord and the cord to your decorations.
Pay Attention to Wattage
Farm and Fleet remind us not to overload outlets. Check your home electrical breaker box and find the breaker for the outlet(s) you wish to use for your Christmas lights. Figure out what is running on that circuit. Anything that turns off when you turn off the breaker is on that circuit.
- Overhead lights
When you know what is on the circuit check the bulbs or appliance for its wattage . Add the watts together. Then look at the decorations you plan to connect to the outlet. Add that to what the circuit is already powering. Divide the total by 120 to get the amps used.
Use the formula Watts÷Volts=Amps, to make sure you won’t overload that circuit. If your circuit in the breaker box says it’s 15 amps, anything over 15 amps will overload it.
Remember to Turn Your Lights Off
Make sure your display lights are off when you are not home and before you go to sleep. Making sure they are off while you are not home greatly reduces the chance of fire. It also keeps your power bill down.
Check for Heat
Check light strands, outlets, and cords, periodically to make sure they are not getting hot. It is best to use the newer LED lights to stay cool and consume 98% – 99% percent less electricity than older lights.
If you are using an older light set, inspect the cord for any damage and loose or missing bulbs before hanging them. If they are damaged, do not use them. If bulbs are missing, replace them before you hang them up.
You Can Power Outdoor Christmas Lights
You can power that holiday light display outside. This can be done without electricity from the grid, using solar and batteries. Using LED lights and timers reduces power use and electrical costs. Be sure to check out our articles on how you can make a Christmas tree out of lights, as well as check out top list of outdoor Christmas lights.