Understanding Christmas Light Technologies

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Few things capture the magic of the holiday season like the warm glow of twinkling Christmas lights. These twinkling decorations are a significant part of many outdoor displays, and with the rise of technology, regular advancements are made each year to improve performance and wow factor.

Below, we’re exploring the history of holiday lighting, different technologies you can use, and how Green Drop can help you create memorable, energy-efficient festive displays that your community will love.

White Lights Christmas Decoration

A Brief History of Christmas Lights

The tradition of hanging lights in winter can be traced back to even before the advent of electricity when people would light candles on their Christmas trees. This lasted only a few seconds before the candles would be blown out again, but those moments were magical and symbolized the hope of brighter days during the darkest season of the year.

Then, in 1882, the first electric Christmas lights were created by an associate of Thomas Edison, a man by the name of Edward H. Johnson. To make his invention, Johnson wired 80 red, white, and blue bulbs by hand and draped them over his tree, eliminating the need for candles and vastly reducing the fire risk. Strands of holiday lights eventually became commercially available in the early 20th century.

Different Types of Christmas Lights

There are two main types of Christmas lighting – incandescent and LED. You should understand the differences and what’s great about each type to determine which is best for your holiday display.

Incandescent Lighting

Incandescent lights have a warm, inviting glow and mimic the look of candles (without the hazards). They're available in various colours, sizes, and shapes for indoor or outdoor use.

However, these lights use a lot of electricity, which can inflate your holiday lighting bill. They also have a shorter lifespan than LED lights, so you'll need to replace them sooner.

LED Lighting

LED Christmas lights are a modern and energy-efficient alternative to incandescent lights. They use significantly less electricity, which can be helpful if you have large displays that put out a lot of light.

Unlike incandescent lighting, LEDs stay cool to the touch and help reduce the risk of overheating. They also have an extended lifespan, making them a more economical choice.

Top Advancements in Christmas Light Technology

Holiday lighting evolves every year, and recent advancements have made creating seasonal displays more exciting than ever. Here are some of the most notable advancements in Christmas light technology and how to use them.

Wireless Lighting

Wireless or cordless Christmas lights are a great way to put holiday lighting in areas that may not have outlets or access to power. Instead of being tethered to a wall or an extension cord, these lights are battery-powered and can be put anywhere inside or outside your home.

Wireless decorations are great for tabletops or counters where you want to avoid cords. There's less risk of tripping, but it can be a hassle to replace batteries throughout the season.

Smart Lighting Apps

Smart holiday light apps give you control and customization of your seasonal lights with your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device. These lights are usually LED and can be programmed to display different colours, brightness, and lighting effects with just the touch of a button.

Instead of manually plugging and unplugging your lights, you can “set and forget” them. Your lights will turn on and off when scheduled, helping you save money on electricity costs and making it more convenient to have beautiful holiday displays without trekking around in the dark to flip multiple switches.

Solar-Powered Lights

Solar-powered Christmas lights are an excellent option for outdoor lighting during the holidays. You won't have to pay higher electric bills with these systems. They function similarly to solar-powered garden lighting, with each strand of lights having a small solar panel and battery pack to capture and store sunlight for later use. Then, when the sun goes down for the evening, your lights automatically turn on.

They'll also turn back off when the sun comes up the next day. Now, you’ll save money with solar-powered holiday lights while getting the convenience of a “programmed” system that operates independently.

Green Drop Workers Christmas Lights Set Up

Safety and Maintenance Tips for Your Christmas Lights

Even though the vast majority of people aren’t using candles for their holiday lighting and the risk of fire is relatively low, it’s still important to be aware of potential problems that could happen and how to avoid them.

Consider these helpful suggestions:

Electrical and Fire Safety Tips

Holiday lighting can pose electrical and fire hazards if not used and maintained properly. While the risk is pretty rare, it's not zero, so you'll need to follow some simple but essential safety guidelines to prevent potential problems:

  • Ensure your Christmas lights have a ULC label. This label from Underwriters Laboratories of Canada signifies that the lights have been tested and meet rigorous product safety standards.
  • Inspect your lights before putting them up each season. Look for damaged cords, loose or exposed wires, and broken plugs. Never use lights that show any signs of undue wear and tear.
  • Avoid overloading your electrical circuit with too many lights. Instead, spread them across your circuit so you're not drawing too much power from one outlet. LED lights draw much less power than incandescent lighting, so you can string more of them together on one outlet.
  • Consider Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) for large holiday light displays. These are special electrical outlets that can detect electrical surges and quickly cut off power to the display, reducing the risk of fire and electrical shock if the lights become damaged.
  • Water real Christmas trees frequently. Dry trees are one of the most significant fire hazards during the holidays, especially when they come into contact with hot lights. You should also keep a fire extinguisher by the tree and make sure your smoke alarms are in good working condition when your decorations go up.
  • Have a fire safety plan with your family. Discuss what to do if there’s a fire and have emergency numbers listed in an easy-to-find place. If you live on an upper floor, consider investing in collapsible escape ladders that allow a safe window exit if there’s a fire.

Cleaning and Storing Your Christmas Lights

Once the festivities are over and it's time to put your lights away for the season, it's time to clean and organize them first. This helps prevent damage and keeps them in good condition for longer.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re storing Christmas lights:

  • Inspect your lights while they are on. Look for broken or burnt-out bulbs and either replace them with new bulbs or throw away the strand. Never keep lights plugged in that have an open socket or broken bulb.
  • Unplug your lights. Never clean them while they are plugged in.
  • Take a soft, dry cloth to dust and wipe your lights and cords. Don't use any abrasive materials or harsh chemicals that could potentially damage the lights or plastic cords.
  • As you're cleaning, check the bulbs. You’ll want to ensure they aren't loose and replace any that can't be tightened or adequately secured.
  • Wrap your lights around a piece of cardboard. Keep the cords from wrapping around themselves since this encourages the strands to tangle when you unwrap them next year. Secure the ends of the cord and protect the bulbs before putting them away.
  • Store your lights in a cool, dry place. Ideally, they should be kept in a hard container that can't be chewed through by mice or insects that may be in your storage area.

DIY vs. Professional Christmas Lighting

Deciding whether to hire a professional to hang your holiday lights or do it yourself ultimately depends on the kind of display you want, what your budget is, and how much time and resources you have. Either way, a personalized display brings joy and warmth to your home and community.

For DIY projects, you'll need a ladder, a staple gun, lights, and safety items to prevent injuries or falls. Safety is critical with DIY projects, especially when working with electrical components. You also need to be aware of local regulations in your area and make sure your lighting display is compliant with your community guidelines.

With professional holiday lighting, you don't have to worry about installation, tear down, or storage. Everything is included in your service package, so all that's left to do is enjoy your beautiful holiday decor.

They will work with you to design a custom lighting plan that fits your budget and creates an enchanting holiday atmosphere, all without the hassle of dealing with tangled lights, electrical problems, and putting them up in the cold.

Brighten the Season with Green Drop’s Holiday Lighting Service

At Green Drop, we love the magic of the holiday season, and we’re here to help you decorate. With our holiday lighting service, you can deck the halls without worrying about the hassle of hanging lights, turning them on and off every day, and putting them away when Christmas is over.

Contact us today to learn more!

‘tis the season

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