Holiday Lighting question

I see this everywhere this time of the season.

Houses, buildings COVERED in lights. I mean every square foot has a light in it, yard, house, roof, window…:shock:

The Mfg’s, IBEW and associations warn no more then three strings per installation on one Receptacle… I don’t see this being the case or possible with some of these displays…


What do the electrical pro’s have to point out or say about these “festive” lighting displays?

Dangerous, potentially dangerous, Exceeding the limits of safety, Pushing equipment ratings?:wink: That house is a “toaster”:D:D?

What is on your place? I use candles…:D:D:D:D


I’ve been wondering too, how they manage to use so many strings unless folks are using quite a few extension cords also.
I had put 6 strings of those “icycle” lights on my home, all joined together off one extension cord, and when I went to turn them on for testing, found that they wouldn’t stay lit for more than 5 minutes before going out!
The mini-fuses in the plug ends were blowing…
After a little troubleshooting, and after the 3rd time of this happening,
and me finally splitting the length down to 3 strings, and another extension cord,
they stayed lit…

lol…well I don’t get real LIGHTY with my house…too lazy to put them up as I know they have to come down…

What I do hope is when they are putting up these lights they are running them from a GFCI protected receptacle.

Now it probably applies to 527.3 but again they will probably not be up longer than 90 days under that section anyway.

I get more concerned with HOW they run the wiring…through windows, up walls and so on…are they subject to damage that could possibly cause a fire…who knows.

If the manufacture says not more than 3 per receptacle…well the manufacturer has the final say on that…but we know most dont read the instructions anyway…so to me you wont stop them…but as long as it is protected by the OCPD…and if possible on GFCI then they are about as protected as they could be.

What problem I do have is leaving it up all year long…that to me would violate 527.3(D) and also exceed the time restraints on the allowance.

I am sure others will have their own opinions as well…these are just mine.

Forgot to add - My wife started pulling down the lights the day after…she was more than ready to put them away…lol

The NEC really seems to go on vacation in December. That is why they started putting fuses in the plugs. I suppose a lot of them got wrapped in aluminum foil.
I don’t worry too much about the building wiring if it is properly protected (240.4(D)) but the things that happen on the load side of the receptacle can get pretty scary. As a general rule, splitting the load up across a lot of extension cords is better than that one glowing cord I see. At least the little animals have a place to get warm…
I made up repeater boxes for my wife so I can still have one point of control and use a couple circuits. It is an aluminum FS box with an SSR in it and a receptacle and a long SJOW cord. There is also a long low voltage wire that goes to a wall wart. Plug the wall wart into the main light circuit and the power to another one. That way when the main lights come on, the SSR makes and the load from another circuit is switched on. I have one dedicated 20 on a timer for lights, the rest go into other circuits. It also lets me go pretty far from the main light circuit without stringing extension cords, just a low voltage wire.

I was talking to a gut that put up more than 15,000 lights. I asked him how he gets the strands so long. He said that he replaces the fuses in the lights with a cut off nails. He said he can put as many stands of lights together as he can. He did say he had a subpanel installed with 10 20 amp circuits for his Christmas lights.

Michael Cotten
Cornerstone Home Inspections Inc

Michael…Now that is just frightening…:)…alas what people will do to be festive…lol

We don’t need no stink’n fuses.

I wonder if his fire insurance policy will pay up after it’s discovered he removed the fusing?

There ya go…we need to talk the insurance associations into allowing us HI’s to do holiday inspections for this very issue…get on it NICK…make it so # 1

Holiday lighting in a public area in violation of NEC 210.8(B):


Most Excellent example of the upgrade/addition from the 2002 NEC to the 2005 NEC for Sec 210.8(B)(4).

May I use those images in one of my presentations I give on 2002 to 2005 NEC Changes/Updates.

If you wish me not to I totally understand.

I watched a program durring the holidays that highlighted several homes in Richmond, VA and their holiday displays. One guy bragged about doing this in order to achieve his displays (replacing light strand fuses with snipped nail shanks). I watched in disbelief but became even more concerned when the program, station, and narrator did nothing to condone this practice or even advise about the safety hazards and ramifications.:roll:

I think an argument could also be made in the lower picture that it violated 406.8(B) as well.

We can only hope they have GFCI ahead of that protecting the entire setup…chances are they dont sad to say.


That is amazing…as the house seems to typical in size. I see that the guy boosts that he consumes 44,000 watts of power.

I simply would like to see his houses electrical setup…does not take an OHMS law wizard to know what he is pulling in AMPS.

But I see they got it down to 30,000 watts recently…thanks to LED’s they said…amazing.

My wife has family in Thornhill, Ontario.

They live a few blocks away from this home.

Those are the homes I like to see the electrical systems of, Sometimes the desire to have the bigest and best display means MAJOR corners are cut and risks are taken…I can only imagine what the electrical setup is like.

Now maybe…just maybe it is perfect, legal and awesome…but usually I would say it is a hidden fire trap the public never see’s…:slight_smile:

Read in today’s newspaper, family of 5 killed in fire in Allentown, PA. overnight. cause of fire determined to be Christmas lights and rigged wiring. House did not have smoke alarms. At my house we keep things simple, a few decorations and thats it. no lights. I don’t trust them.

Story link