Ultimate Christmas Light Guide – Part 3
It’s time to get technical with Part 3 of our Christmas lighting guide. Part 1 covered your basic plug-in string lights while Part 2 took those same string lights outside in the form of dripping icicle lights, net lights, and battery-operated lights for your wreaths and garlands. This next section still covers mostly outdoor lighting, but in the form of the more customized and installation-heavy displays. For your consideration, we would like to introduce C7 and C9 stringers, rope light, tape light, and curtain strand string lights.
C7 and C9 Stringers
“C7” and “C9” refers to the bulb shapes commonly paired with these types of string lights. C7 Christmas light bulbs have the standard E12 candelabra base similar to other chandelier bulbs. Yet C9 Christmas light bulbs have the slightly larger E17 or intermediate base. The small candle-like bulbs might remind you of Christmases past, since they were the go-to holiday lighting choice before the rise of mini light strings. Since the spacing between the bulbs is farther apart than mini lights, you ideally want to use these Christmas light stringers for large and/or long distance displays. You can buy 25-foot pre-made C9 or C7 light strings with plugs already attached. However, you can also easily build your custom 1000-foot light string with sockets and bulbs.
When building your own light string, you will need to calculate the maximum running length for your string lights to avoid voltage drop or tripping a circuit breaker. If you are using the pre-packaged, 25-foot lengths, then these calculations don’t apply. Many pre-made sets, especially the incandescent light strings, are designed to have a maximum run of 2 to 3 sets and even a custom incandescent stringer is limited to 250 feet. Due to their low power consumption, using C7 or C9 LED bulbs can extend your max run by 3 to 4 times the initial 250 feet.
Rope Light and Tape Light
Knowing the all the ins and outs of rope and tape light (also known as strip lighting) would require its own series of articles. However, both kinds of lights can be applied outdoors. Rope light is good for curves and wrapping around objects, yet strip lighting, with its adhesive backing, excels at straight-line applications. The technical difference lies in the maximum length and voltage used. Incandescent and LED rope light can be used outdoors in lengths of up to 150 feet, while strip lighting is only made in the LED format and can reliably provide about 16 feet of lighting. LED strip lighting should have a weatherproof IP rating of 65 or higher if you plan use it outside.
If you feel confident in your DIY abilities and need more length, you can handle rope light and its slightly tricky cutting and splicing requirements. If you have a shorter length to light and value the simpler installation, then strip lighting is what you want to use. Both lighting types require specific LED drivers, power adapter cords, and connector cables. To learn more about the pros and cons of the features, special effects, and voltages available for either rope light or strip lighting , please see our article entitled, “Rope Light vs. Tape Light: Which Is Better?”
Curtain Strand String Lights
Curtain strand string lights, while not rated for outdoor use, are a simple yet impressive installation for any indoor location. Essentially, the curtain lights are created by several, single male-ended only string lights plugged into a bar of outlets. With string lengths up to 50 feet or more, you can create walls of light easily. The 6-foot, 12-outlet light bar has its own built-in plug for quick installation. Furthermore, the curtain strand light bar conveniently avoids the 3-set maximum when using incandescent light strings. Since these lights will be fresh out of the box, you should consider investing in light curtain weights to ensure a straight drop.
Do you have more tips and tricks for custom Christmas light installations? Or do you have a holiday DIY guaranteed to bring “good tidings”? Leave your comments, questions, and your always-enlightening suggestions in the area below. You can join us in our love of all things lighting related on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, or Pinterest. Like rope lights on rooftops and C7 stringers on fences, the staff of 1000Bulbs.com invites you to contact us at 1-800-624-4488 with a few of your favorite lights for things so we can be sure to have them in stock.