Walk into any big box store this holiday season and you’ll see two, maybe three, options for Christmas mini lights: Number of bulbs, bulb color, and if you’re lucky, wire color. After all, these are the only choices most people consider.
But “most” people aren’t informed buyers. Any informed buyer craves selection, and that’s why we offer literally hundreds of mini light choices at 1000Bulbs.com.
Of course, with so many choices available, we realize it can be frustrating to find just the right mini lights you need, so to make that process easier, here’s a quick guide to buying mini lights.
Have you ever had to double or triple-wrap a Christmas tree with lights to make it bright enough? The typical set of mini lights has bulb spacing (the amount of wire between individual bulbs) of 12 inches. In almost all cases, that’s too far apart.
The maximum bulb spacing for a Christmas tree, gutter, or house trim should be 6 inches, not 12. To wrap an outdoor tree trunk, pole, or banister, tighter bulb spacing of 4 inches is better. For wreaths, garlands, and other objects with a small diameter, you may even want to go with 2.5 inch spacing.
Wire gauge isn’t just a topic for electricians. When it comes to mini lights, the thicker the wire, the longer it lasts and the more end-to-end connections you can make.
The standard wire gauge for mini lights is 22 AWG, but for especially long runs or harsh outdoor conditions, use a thicker wire gauge of 20 or even 18 AWG (the smaller the number, the thicker the gauge).
Lead and Tail Length
Lead length is the distance from the outlet (the male plug) to the first bulb in a set of mini lights. It is typically 3 to 6 inches, but many shorter “craft” lights have longer leads of 2 feet or more.
Longer leads are great for wall-mounted items like wreaths that are usually far away from a wall socket. Having a longer lead means you won’t have lights “floating in space” before they reach their destination.
Tail length is the other end of the string (the female plug) that connects to the next string in the series.
Mentioned earlier in the section on wire gauge, mini lights with a thicker wire gauge are able to handle more end-to-end connections. Though the exact number may vary, most 22 AWG 100 light sets are UL listed for up to three end-to-end (male to female) connections. A 20 AWG set of the same length may be rated for twice that—6 connections. Exceed that recommendation and the fuses within the light string will overload and burn out.
Interestingly, the recommendation for a 50 light set is usually the same. Why? For safety reasons, UL does not recommend more than three end-to-end connections for a 22 AWG string light of any length. If you plan a particularly long run, it is better to use a few 100 or 150 light stands than several shorter strands.
What Are Your Plans?
What are your Christmas lighting plans this year? Let us know what you have in store. Drop us a line in the comments below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. If you have something especially interesting, we may even pin it on Pinterest!
With nearly 100,000 views, you’ve made the 1000Bulbs.com YouTube channel one of the most popular lighting resources on the web! If you haven’t checked it out recently, here’s what you’re missing:
Product Information Videos
If you’re a fan of 1000Bulbs.com, you’ve noticed we always include any information our manufacturers provide about their product. From instructional guides to specification sheets and brochures, whatever you need is right there on the product page. The same goes for videos like this one from Plumen, which we make sure to include on both our website and our YouTube channel.
Have you found a cool product on our site but aren’t sure how to use it? Videos like the one on the Magic Box Christmas Light Tester show you how to use every feature of our product before you buy it!
One of the most popular videos on our channel was submitted by a customer. Robert Darwin’s video on how to make a Deadmau5 head using our acrylic globes now has nearly 8,000 views. We’d love to see your videos too, so if you have a video of something you’ve created with our products, let us know!
Halloween is almost here! If you’re like me, you love being creative and decorating your home. Today, we are going to be talking about making a glowing ghost to haunt the front yard this season! It is super easy to make, inexpensive, and made with things you most likely already have in your house. This crafting idea is fun for the kids as well! You can make your ghost as scary or silly as you’d like!
Materials to Build Your Ghost
1. Chicken Wire or a Tomato Cage
You’ll need this for the base of the ghost. Tomato cages work best because they require minimal shaping. They come in a variety of sizes and are inexpensive, but if you want to be a little more creative and add more shape to your ghost, then chicken wire is the way to go!
2. An Old Sheet or Piece of Fabric
Typically, you want to use something you would not miss. An old sheet is perfect to use for this project—especially if you want a textured/ripped effect at the bottom of your ghost. You can even use plain fabric of your choice and layer it with sheer fabric for added effects. It’s completely up to you and what look you’re going for!
3. Paint, Fabric, or Paper
There are a wide variety of things you can use for the face of your ghost. Fabric paint is the best method I can recommend. It’s simple, quick, and the kids can help! Not to mention it will last for many Halloweens to come! If you like to sew, you can also take black fabric and cut the eyes and mouth to your sheet. For a quick face without damaging the sheet, painted cardboard or construction paper taped onto the sheet will work just as well.
For best results, use LED wide angle lightning lights. The flashing effect of these lights makes your ghost(s) appear then disappear within seconds, making your house even more spooky and fun! The best part about these lights is the fact they’re indestructible and energy efficient! If you don’t have access to these lights, ordinary incandescent or LED mini lights will work as well.
Steps to Assemble Your Ghost
Take your base(s) and place wherever needed in the front yard. Keep in mind you may have to run an extension cord, so make sure there are no tripping hazards in the surrounding area. Make sure the base is secured by planting it into the ground.
Take the light strings and begin to wrap it around the base you created. For best results, focus the lights around the head area of your ghost. Think of the lights as a gradient: You want the most concentrated light around the head and have the light fade down the body of the ghost. This will add a spookier, glowing effect, making it look like your ghost is actually floating in your yard!
Once your lights are secured around the base of the ghost, place the “body” (aka sheet) over the base. Turn on your lights, and presto! You have a glowing ghost!
Halogen, Xenon, Fluorescent, or LED: What is the best type of under cabinet lighting? If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, you were asking the wrong question. There is no “good, better, best” with under cabinet lights. Choosing the right light is a matter of personal preference, and it depends on how much you value dimming, heat reduction, color accuracy, and energy savings.
Xenon Light Bulb
Xenon under cabinet lights are an update of older Halogen lights. Halogen under cabinet lights, especially the light “pucks” you see in hardware stores, are cheap and provide perfect color accuracy (color rendering index), but they use tons of energy and waste most of it as heat. Xenon keeps the benefits of Halogen, but burns brighter and cooler. Their color rendering makes granite countertops or trinkets in display cabinets look their absolute best, and because they are brighter than Halogens, Xenon bulbs save energy by using fewer watts than a Halogen bulb.
Fluorescent under cabinet lights are a great choice for bright, energy-efficient lighting that burns cool. They’re a popular choice in kitchen cabinets and pantries because they don’t add extra heat to their surroundings, which can increase the likelihood of food spoilage. Unfortunately, there are a number of trade-offs. Fluorescent lights have relatively poor color rendering — 80 CRI to Xenon’s 100 CRI — so they distort colors and make granite and marble countertops and backsplashes appear washed out. Furthermore, while they use much less energy than Halogen or even Xenon, they are not dimmable and some models are slow to reach full brightness.
LED Under Cabinet Light
LED is the newest, most energy saving option for under cabinet lighting. To many, LED under cabinet lights are the perfect option. Unlike fluorescent, they are instant on and many models are dimmable. Unlike Halogen and Xenon, they also create very little heat. However, they do have two drawbacks: Color rendering and cost. Like fluorescent lights, their CRI is in the 80-90 range, so they aren’t the best choice when color accuracy is highly valued. They also have the highest up-front cost of any under cabinet choice. On the other hand, they will save the most in the long-term. LEDs use only a fraction of the energy consumed by other types of under cabinet lights. Even better, they last 20,000 to 60,000 hours, so you’ll never have to replace them and will save on bulb replacement costs.
Again, your choice of under cabinet lights will depend on your specific needs. In general, however, if you prize color accuracy and don’t mind the heat, choose Xenon, but if you prefer energy savings and cool operation, go with fluorescent or LED. Of course, that’s only what we think. Let us know which under cabinet lighting option you prefer in the comments, or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.
Halloween is just around the corner, and if you’re looking to have the spookiest haunted house on the block, we’re here to help! You can take a look at our Halloween lights page and even our brand-new lighted Halloween decorations for some quick ideas, but to go all-out, you’ll need to check out our Christmas lights.
If you find yourself asking why anyone in their right mind would use Christmas lights anytime outside of well…Christmas, put the incredulous tone aside for a minute and consider this: Though typically associated with the winter holidays, Christmas lights have all kinds of other uses, from weddings to birthday parties, so why not Halloween?
Looking for inspiration? Try these creepy Halloween ideas for colored light strings and bulbs: Use purple lights to create an eerie glow reminiscent of the full moon in a cemetery, or use orange lights to emulate the smoky flicker of a candle. Don’t stop there! Green lights emit the sickly pallor of toxic sludge while red lights ooze the unmistakable curdle…I mean, color…of blood. Another idea for light strings is to fit medium base patio light stringers with antique light bulbs for an efficient and portable “Addams Family” vibe.
Keep in mind, however, the idea is to scare the neighbors, not yourself. To avoid those spine-chilling energy bills this fall, you can go green with LED wide-angle lights or LED M5 lights for your Halloween display. You can also save on energy bills with battery-operated lights. A string of battery-operated LED Christmas lights, for example, is an energy-saving (and much safer) alternative to candles in your Jack O’Lanterns.