Choosing And Installing Your Outdoor Christmas Lights

It is that time of year again! If you have not already tackled the job of hanging your holiday lights, it’s definitely time to get to it.

When you pull out the light strings you jammed away last year, check to ensure that are all working.  If some need to be replaced or you simply want a colour or style change from last year, here are a few purchasing tips from Tod Belton. Tod works with Squeaky Clean Windows and takes care of Christmas light installation for many Calgary homeowners.

“The two main choices today are “traditional” incandescent bulbs, and the new LEDs.

LED seems to be the hands-down winner, simply because they use about 25 times less power.  Granted, traditional lights are brighter, and they have a warmer feel to them (maybe because they can get pretty hot, unlike LED). Then again, there are so many options available with LEDs today that incandescents are on the brink of extinction.  The initial cost of LEDs will always be higher, but with the energy savings they provide and their longer life, it is the more efficient choice to make.

LED Christmas Lights

Just go to your local Canadian Tire store, press some buttons and plug some in – you’ll probably light up with the wonder of Christmas… But don’t buy them there!

I know it can be hard to do, but try to avoid brands with replaceable fuses and bulbs with plugs looking like something out of a sci-fi movie and many more deviations from the norm.  Manufacturers are trying to commit you to their own brand – making it so that nothing mixes and matches anymore.  Spend wisely so your lights end up lasting more than one festive season.

The best two places I know with reasonably good quality Christmas lights are RONA (yeah Canadian!) and believe it or not, London Drugs. I might have better news in the future, as people are looking to import better quality lights. I will keep you posted!”

Before you head out to the store, get a rough idea of the amount of lighting you will require. They all seem to come in various lengths and really – how many trips do you want to make to the store.

Once you have the lights on hand seriously consider hiring a pro to do the installation.  Safety being the most important reason for this!

If you insist on tackling this job yourself
  • Map out your scheme carefully before installation
  • Use only light strings and extension cords approved for outdoor use
  • Strings are designed to plug into each other to create long runs, but never use more than three strings on any one run
  • Plug light strings into same-length strings. Don’t mix and match strings of different lengths! — The wires are rated for different amperages.
  • Measure the distance carefully and write everything down so you’ll only have to make one trip to the store.

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Here’s why a winter wonderland pro might be the way to go
  • Safety: No matter how agile we are, climbing 30 feet up a ladder when we are not trained or lace the proper equipment is just plain dangerous.  Injuries suffered can be awful so it is not worth the risk. Outdoor decorative lighting will still eat up more electrical energy than your family usually does. Make sure you don’t have bad wiring, overloaded circuits or insufficient grounding. An expert-eye for the job knows how to properly set up and ensure it’s done in a safe manner. Lastly, always use a timer to conserve energy by ensuring your lights don’t stay on for longer than they should.
  • How To: You might prefer your Christmas displays (lights) be placed atop and around your roof, plus other hard-to-reach places. Some rooflines or exterior materials are very challenging to fasten the lighting to.  Having a lighting contractor with proper training and equipment gets the job done right and overall, you will be happy with how the installation looks.
  • Take Down: By hiring a professional, all your end-of-January take down responsibilities are taken care of. No need to bruise yourself with work after hosting family, friends and master chefing your way through all those turkey dinners.

Browse the listing of Christmas Light Installation Companies to help find the right partner for the job.  Get inspired for your next home project with Who To Call.




Alana Kitchen
Alana Kitchen
Alana Kitchen, founder of Who To Call Inc. Taking care of a house with three boys I always needed a good drywaller on speed dial. When I moved to Calgary I quickly discovered it was an Olympic sport to find home service businesses that provided the quality service and advice I was looking for. This experience inspired Who To Call – a website dedicated to helping Calgarians find quality home service repair companies. Sign up to post your project and find quality companies today!
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