Tricks of the Trade: Troubleshooting Lights

Tricks of the Trade: Troubleshooting Lights

Lights, camera, action! Lights! Lights! Wait . . . why aren’t the lights working?

There are few things more annoying than spending precious time and energy creating the perfect holiday décor scene, wrapped and adorned in dazzling light fixtures, only to have its majestic wonder blemished by a burnt-out bulb or no lights working at all!

It’s a true bummer, but light problems are an inevitability in the holiday décor world. That’s why we compiled a few tips and tools for troubleshooting those pesky light problems:

First, identify the problem: Do you have just one or multiple burnt-out lights? A section or a whole string of lights?

Here are a few ways to figure out what's wrong:

  1. First, just try unplugging and re-plugging in the lights. Sometimes that really does just do it.
  2. If not, then plug in one set of Christmas lights you know work into the plug or adapter in question. If the broken one lights up, then it is most likely not the fuses. If it doesn’t, it most likely is the fuse.
  3. In the case that it isn’t the fuse, use a Christmas light bulb tester (yes, those exist) or voltage detector that you can buy online or in a hardware store to scan over the area of broken lights. The areas that are not receiving electricity are where the bad bulbs live. In older mini lights, one bad bulb can cause a whole section to go out. However, the beauty of modern LED lights is that even if one bulb burns out, it won’t affect the entire light section.
  4. To replace a bulb, unplug the lights first (so as not to get shocked!) and pull out the bulb from its base. Take out the old bulb and put in the new bulb. If needed, straighten the wires and slide it into the base, and insert it back into the light set.
  5. If it does appear that a problem lies in the fuse, then you will need to replace it. Light sets have two sets of fuses in the male-plug, and luckily they are easy to replace. First, make sure your new fuse has exactly the same size and amp rating as the fuse you are replacing. Here’s a quick reference:
Commercial Grade Light Sets: 5 amp
C-Sets: 7amp

Mini-Lights: 3amp

It’s important too that you check the maximum connection/voltage with the light product in order to make sure you aren’t blowing the lights with too much power in the first place. This would be labeled on the product packaging, and if you aren’t sure what your property's voltage is, you can use a multimeter or other device to measure voltage.

Once you’re sure of all of this, slide open the plug hatch, pop out the fuse, and slide in the new fuse (with a flat head screwdriver, small pliers, or similar tool). Plug it in and your lights should be shining!

For Christmas lights and electric décor in outdoor environments, bad weather can sometimes trip the GFI circuits (the device that protects us from receiving electric shocks) and knock things out. Wait until the bad weather is over before resetting the circuits and the make sure no light bulbs, light strands, or connecting ends are lying in water. If they are, let everything dry first.

We hope some of these tips and tools help minimize whatever light issues may be darkening your holiday spirits. As you’ve seen, the good news is that most issues are easily fixable! Want more technical advice? Then give one our electric masters a call at blank or email at blank

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