Christmas lights are so small and beautiful, it’s hard to think of them as hazardous. However, you may be surprised to learn that the majority electrical fires and injuries happen around this season, all because of Christmas lighting. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that an average of 150 homes are burned, 8 people are killed, and 14 people are injured every year due to faulty holiday light installation. And we’re betting that many, many more are forced to pay for costly repairs to their electrical systems. In order to stay safe this holiday, here are some extra precautions to take before setting up your lights—from adding extra circuits, to scheduling an electrical safety inspection.
Why Can Extra Christmas Lights Cause Fires?
When you install multiple strings of lights and light displays around your house and yard, you are subjecting your electrical system to a demand it isn’t accustomed to—and might not be equipped to handle in the first place. The average receptacle circuit in your home can handle between 15-20 amps, and most household wires can only handle 15. That means that if you try to run, for instance, 16 through over a wire that can only handle 15, the wires and the breaker may start to overheat and cause a fire.
How to Calculate Your Electricity Demand
Given what we said above, it is important to calculate how many amps your holiday lights (and any new electrical appliances you may receive for Christmas) will draw through the wiring. You can do this by dividing the wattage number by your voltage. For example, say you plug a 1000-watt slow cooker into a 120-volt outlet. If you can only handle 15 amps, you’re getting close to the limit already. If you add anything else for a big light show, you’re very likely to overburden them.
Other Holiday Energy Costs to Consider
So far, we’ve discussed the excess power consumed outside your home during the holidays. But what many people forget is that the power use inside the home can spike, too, especially if you are expecting guests. More friends and family members staying for the holidays mean more lamps, TVs, laptop chargers, phone chargers, hair dryers, and everything else plugged in and drawing power from the system. And the appliances you already use will likely be used more often and for longer stretches of time (for instance, more people using the oven, toaster, fridge, etc.)
All this is why, even if you’re not planning a holiday light show that’s particularly ambitious, it’s still a good idea to schedule an electrical safety inspection before the season gets into full swing. Your Holly Springs electrician can investigate your wires and outlets and let you know if you’ll be able to safely handle the increased demand. If your system is old, in need of repair, or only ever built to handle the needs of a 1980s family, we can install an additional circuit and upgrade your electrical panel so that your utility bills stay low and you aren’t at risk for a fire or short circuit. (All this goes double for those expecting Santa to deliver a brand new stove or fridge this year!)
Need an Electrician in Holly Springs NC? Call Alternate Current Solutions!
Our Holly Springs electricians are here to make your holiday safe, stress-free, and successful as possible. Instead of wrestling with lights, wires, circuits, and switches, just let us do it—it’s our job, after all! (We’re not saying we’ll help put up your Christmas tree…but we might be able to be talked into it.) To request an electrical inspection in Holly Springs, click here to fill out our contact form for a free estimate!