Overloaded from the Electrical Holiday Decor?
It’s no secret that we love to celebrate the holidays in our area! While holiday lights look fantastic, they can use up a lot of electricity. Not only that, there are other safety concerns you should know about.
But you might say, “Hey, we’re past the holiday season, and the lights are down now. Aren’t my electrical concerns over?” Or, “I’m sure I can find an electrician near me in case I really need something.”
Allow us to explain that winter in general, not just the holiday season, is a time when there’s a lot of strain on your home’s electrical wiring.
What Are Some Winter-Specific Dangers?
Consider the length of time we actually have daylight. Lights are on for much longer than they would be in the summer. Also, the heat runs nearly non-stop because it’s not uncommon to be below freezing for extended periods here in Clarksville.
That heat may feel nice, but furnaces and other heaters increase the risk of trapping excess amounts of carbon monoxide in your home as well as use a lot of electricity.
Regarding holiday lighting, you may have similar lights that you want to keep up year-round. It’s not uncommon to have outdoor outlets that don’t have ground fault circuit interrupters in older homes. In fact, your house might be old enough that you don’t have them inside, either.
These days, outlets have an extra layer of protection with the ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCI. With alternating current, current passes to and from electrical devices.
The problem is when some of that current decides to go through you. The GFCI detects when there’s more or less current flowing in one direction and shuts off, preventing you from getting electrocuted.
Should I Get an Electrical Inspection from an Electrician Near Me?
An electrical inspection by a licensed, insured, and well-trained electrician can find the problem areas before they rear their ugly heads. Here are some items they’re probably going to recommend:
We’re not talking about just the kind of surge protectors glorified power strips. We’re talking whole-house surge protectors.
When you step up to a whole-house surge protector, you’re then protecting devices like your fridge, central air conditioning system, washer and dryer, water heater, and anything else either hidden in a separate room or never moves until you replace it.
Instead of getting electric repair service after a lightning strike or power surge kills these appliances, get the protection you need now! The 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC) now requires that whole home surge protection be installed in homes. That’s how important whole home surge protection is!
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Outlets
GFCIs are more than just a smart move; building codes require them. If you have an electrician coming to do some electric repair or an electrical inspection, they’ll tell you all about how necessary GFCIs are.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors
Smoke detectors and CO detectors are essential to have in place during winter months because of heating devices that can cause fires or a buildup of CO. Electricians can tell you the right places to have detectors and install them for you. You can even opt to have sensors that run on house power in addition to back up batteries in case the power goes out.
Electrical Panel Upgrades
If your house is over twenty years old, you may be due for an electrical panel upgrade. Older homes usually have panels (also known as breaker boxes) that usually run 100 amps, but modern homes require more, which is why upgrading to a 200 amp service and panel is important. With more appliances and electricity absorbing technology, 100 amps just isn’t enough for the modern home. Upgrading will drastically improve efficiency and safety. You may need to upgrade if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Your system still uses fuses
- Your breakers keep tripping
- You notice a burning smell from your electrical panel
- The lights flicker through the house
If you have an electrical inspection, this issue should be detected, but keep an eye on these signs yourself.
How Can I Avoid Electric Overload?
As you’re figuring out just how many lights you can put up next holiday season, you can make some simple adjustments to avoid putting too much of a strain on your electrical system.
Change to LEDs
LEDs are problem solvers for three reasons. First, they draw significantly less power than traditional incandescent bulbs (this will save on your power bill!). Second, they last nearly 5 times longer. Third, they don’t emit light by generating heat (they use diodes), so no more pesky hot light bulbs!
Figure Out Your Circuit Load
If you’ve ever looked at the warnings on a power strip, you’ll notice it tells you not to plug other power strips into it. This is because when you put too many appliances (or lights) on one circuit, you could overload it.
Stay below 20 amps on one circuit to be safe. Your lights and appliances should tell you how many amps they draw.
Spread Out Your Circuits
Don’t plug your Christmas lights on the same circuit as your fridge, washer, and dryer. Look for circuits that currently have few or even zero appliances running. You may even want to consider installing new circuits if you plan to draw lots of power for extended periods.
How Do I Properly Store Electrical Christmas Light Decorations?
When taking down the lights, remove them by pulling directly on the plug. Unplugging them by yanking on the wire can cause the connections in the wire to break. Before putting them away, inspect them for any damage. They’ll have to be disposed of.
When coiling up your lights, don’t tie them. The metal inside the wire can get bent or broken if the cord gets moved around too much. Use something else to hold them in places, such as twist ties or zip cords. This will keep them separate and not get bunched together. Wires get tangled easily, and the more contact points there are (in other words, the more strands of lights there are), the more likely they are to get tied together.
As for storing your lights, put them in plastic bins in a cool, dry place. Heat will cause the rubbers and plastics to harden and age faster, and moisture will corrode the wiring. Putting them in plastic bins that snap shut will help keep the elements out, but you’ll still want to find a place inside the house to keep them from experiencing temperature extremes.
How Do I Dispose of Old Christmas Lights?
Let’s start by saying that you should not throw them in the trash. Holiday lights contain harmful materials like lead and plastics that are terrible for the environment and recyclable materials like copper and glass. Fixing your lights is an option, but if you don’t feel like doing that, at least take them to your local recycling center.
You can also donate them to specific charities that will recycle them on your behalf. Some online shops that sell Christmas lights will also take them off your hands and offer you a discount in exchange! You should also check with your local hardware store to see if they may take them.
Stay Safe This Winter with an Inspection from Travis Electrical
If you want to get through another Clarksville winter with no worries, get an electrical inspection from Travis Electrical Service! We’ve got 14 years under our belt taking care of Clarksville with installations, repairs, and maintenance.
Our electricians are top-notch, well-trained, professional, and knowledgeable—all things you want when someone is in your house working on your electrical wiring.
If you’re looking to do an electrical panel upgrade, whole-house surge protector, or want to add a bunch of GFCIs, you’ve come to the right place. Contact us right away, and one of our skilled electricians will get it done!