Nails, tape, staples... All bad ideas when hanging lights from your home! There are a few steps you can take to ensure your lights stay put, look fantastic and don't take a toll on your home's exterior.
First, measure! Whip out the old measuring tape and start by measuring at the base of the house, going along any turns and corners. Measure doors and door frames, window frames, and any columns that will be lit. If hanging Christmas lights on peeks, climb carefully up a ladder and measure along the area of peak to be decorated.
Next, evaluate your hanging surfaces. Study the roofline, gutters, and shingles. Christmas lights can be installed on any of these surfaces, but there are specific clips for each type of surface. Inspect how thick the gutter lip is, and how loose or tight the shingles on the roof are. Do the gutters get in the way of the shingles?
Locate power sources. Most new homes are equipped with outdoor power sources, but older homes may need to use an indoor power source, with the power cord coming through a window. Measure how many feet of power cord will be required to extend from the power source to the beginning of the roofline.
This step is vital. This is the step where design begins, and limitations are found. When hanging Christmas lights, there are many obstacles that will surprise the first time installer, but if planned correctly, every limitation or obstacle is easy to overcome.
Then decide on the lights! Popular Christmas lights for hanging on the roof or gutter are icicle lights and C7 and C9 bulbs. C7 and C9 bulbs and stringers can be purchased separately or as pre-lamped light strings. Purchasing bulbs and stringers separately has many advantages, including better selection in wire color, easy replacements of bad bulbs, and ability to change out bulb colors each season. For large or custom lighting projects, purchase a spool and cut wire as needed, keeping in mind that a shorter runs of lights is easier to handle when perched on a ladder.
If you're 'going big' like Clark, one step you can't forget is to calculate the wattage. To calculate how much power will be used in hanging Christmas lights, begin by deciding on bulb spacing. The most popular spacing between bulbs is 12'' and 15'' for the roof. If the bulbs are too close together, the lights from the bulbs will blend.
Lighting professionals calculate power wattage to prevent overloading the circuit or blowing a fuse. To determine Christmas light wattage, multiply the wattage of the bulb by the number of sockets, and divide by 115 to reach total amps. For example, 5 watt bulbs x 125 sockets / 115 = 5.43 amps. The total amps must be less than 10% of the total amps the wire is rated for. Using the wattage in our example, a wire rated for 7amps will work, but a wire rated for 5 amps would require a shorter run.
Choose the right clips! Choosing the best Christmas light clips for the project is key. There is a large selection of clips for every application in hanging Christmas lights, whether hanging Christmas lights from gutters, high peaks, flat roof tops, siding, paint, or brick. Study which clips will work best with the roofline, shingles, or gutters, and pay attention to which bulb sockets will fit in each clip. All-in-one clips are a great pick because they work with the largest variety of bulbs and applications.
It's usually better to attach Christmas lights to the clips on the ground, climbing carefully up the ladder with only one string of lights at a time. Take caution not to let bulbs hit the ladder or walls while climbing on the ladder to prevent bulbs getting broken during installation.
Finally, turn the lights ON! The final step in hanging Christmas lights is to turn the power on and admire the view. Look for any bulbs that may not be lit, and ensure they are screwed in tightly, replacing if necessary. Set an outdoor timer to turn the lights on daily at dusk, and either turn off at midnight (a popular time), or the next morning. Most timers shut outdoor lights between 11pm and midnight to save on energy, yet stay on late enough for everyone who drives by to enjoy.