Well, it's that time of year again. To go with the fully animatronic Santa and reindeers on the roof, or not? Lots of homeowners worry that they'll pull a classic Clark Griswold move of shutting down the entire town's electrical grid. That's not a real concern, though there certainly is the risk of creating a possible fire hazard or popping some breakers. So, how can you avoid creating an electrical overload and still have the best lights on the block? Read on:
Avoid circuit overload by knowing how powerful your lights are. Most lighting circuits (which typically include outlets) are 15-amp. The basic rule of thumb is to avoid going over 80% of what a circuit can safely handle (no more than 12 amps on a 15-amp circuit). To find out how powerful your lights are, check the packaging that you bought them in. If you no longer have the package, check the tag on the light cord. If the wattage is listed, divide that number by 120. This will give you your amperage. For example, if your light string is 250 watts, your amperage draw is 2.08 amps (250 watts divided by 120 = 2.08). Safely, you could get by with six of these on a single circuit - or go down to five for an even safer bet. Remember, though, that this is only the total for the Christmas lights. If you have other things running on the same circuit, there is less power available for your lights. Identify which outlets are using which circuits by turning off one breaker at a time then checking each outlet. Any outlet without power is on the circuit you turned off.
Switch to LED lights. Because they are about 75% more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, switching to LEDs lowers your electrical load by seven times, therefore lowering your electric bill. Check out the Energy Star website for a list of qualified products that meet minimum standards for energy efficiency. While you'll pay a little more upfront for LEDs, they last a lot longer, so the quality is worth the price.
As always the experts at John's Electric are standing by, ready to help with all of your electrical needs. We hope you have a magical and merry Christmas.