How to Avoid Overloading Circuits with Christmas Lights
Lighting up the house with bright lights at Christmastime is festive and fun so make sure the job is done safely. Overloading the circuits can lead to power outages or surges that can require electrical panel repair or damage appliances and electronics inside the home. Before getting everything out, untangling all of the lights from last year, and trying to put them all up inside or outside of the home, learn how to do so without overloading the service panel or causing potential issues.
Buy the Right Lights
It is possible to buy Christmas lights in just about any style, size, or color. They also come with different types of bulbs, like incandescent or LED. The LED lights available today only use around 20% of the energy incandescent bulbs use, so they are a great way to lower the energy bill while still lighting up the house for Christmas. On top of this, though, the chance of overloading the breaker panel or circuits is greatly reduced.
Know How Much Can be Plugged In
When it comes to plugging in Christmas lights, calculations are needed to figure out how many can be used at once without overloading the breaker box. This will prevent having to reset the breaker if the power goes out. The variables are the wattage of the lights, the amperage available for the circuit, and the number of outlets for each circuit. Wattage can vary based on the lights used – it should be written on the packaging.
Multiply the wattage by 120 (standard voltage) to determine the amperage of each strand. The circuit amperage divided by the strand amperage will determine how many strands can be plugged into each circuit. Divide that number by the number of outlets for the circuit to figure out how many strands can be plugged into one outlet.
Do not forget, however, that other things may be plugged into the same circuit, like a television, which will impact how many strands can be plugged in. Overloading it can lead to the need for electric panel repair or electrical wiring repairs.
Connecting Multiple Strands
Multiple strands can be connected together to cover the whole home or a larger tree. However, when determining how many strands can be plugged into a single outlet, the resulting number is the individual strands. Make sure to account for the strands plugged into each other when determining how many strands can be used in one outlet. Otherwise, damage to the power can occur that may require electric panel service.
Avoid Overloading an Outlet
It is better to use more outlets instead of just stringing the strands of lights together and plugging them into one. Using just one outlet for all of the lights can end up overloading that particular outlet, which could mean outlet repairs or an outlet replacement will be needed. Instead, split the strands and plug them into different outlets, even if the outlets are all on the same circuit. If possible, plug them into power strips that offer surge protection or GFCI outlets instead of standard outlets. This provides extra protection against power surges that can happen when too much power is used on one circuit.
In most cases, a significant amount of lights can be plugged into a single outlet without danger. However, it is still a good idea to understand how much power can go through each outlet and circuit to be safe. For instance, if the circuit is already close to the maximum that can be plugged in, it is necessary to consider using outlets on a different circuit to avoid issues.
Tripping circuits, damaging the electrical panel, or causing other electrical issues is not too much of a concern when hanging Christmas lights, but it is better to know how to tell what is too many and how to avoid issues with electrical panels. If you need help with an outlet upgrade or an electric repair after experiencing any power outages, Paul Macrina Electrical Contracting can help. Call (508) 359-7954 or visit our website to contact us now.
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