Hanging Christmas lights like a pro can be accomplished by anyone, regardless of skill level and experience. With the proper tools and steps, any beginner can successfully light up the exterior of a home. Use the following resources to find and hang your Christmas lights.
Materials for hanging Christmas lights include the following:
Shop for Christmas lights such as mini lights and icicle lights to hang along roof lines or stake along driveways.
Shop for Christmas Lights
Make lines of light straight with Christmas light clips that hold fast to gutters, shingles, and more.
Shop for Christmas Light Clips
Professional light installers always have a tape measure handy. There is no other way to accurately determine how many lights will be needed, and what lengths in string lights to use. Start by measuring at the base of the house, going along any turns and corners. Measure doors and door frames, window frames, and any columns that will be lit. If hanging Christmas lights on peeks, climb carefully up a ladder and measure along the area of peak to be decorated.
Find ideas for decorating your roofline with Christmas lights and discover how to hang them like the professionals.
Read More Lights Ideas for the Roof
Begin by studying the roofline, gutters, and shingles. Christmas lights can be installed on any of these surfaces, but there are specific clips for each type of surface. Inspect how thick the gutter lip is, and how loose or tight the shingles on the roof are. Do the gutters get in the way of the shingles?
Locate power sources. Most new homes are equipped with outdoor power sources, but older homes may need to use an indoor power source, with the power cord coming through a window. Measure how many feet of power cord will be required to extend from the power source to the beginning of the roofline.
This step is vital. This is the step where design begins, and limitations are found. When hanging Christmas lights, there are many obstacles that will surprise the first time installer, but if planned correctly, every limitation or obstacle is easy to overcome.
Icicle lights are mini light strands with dropping strands at different lengths, creating the appearance of dripping icicles.
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Popular Christmas lights for hanging on the roof or gutter are icicle lights and C7 and C9 bulbs. C7 and C9 bulbs and stringers can be purchased separately or as prelamped light strings. Purchasing bulbs and stringers separately has many advantages, including better selection in wire color, easy replacements of bad bulbs, and ability to change out bulb colors each season. For large or custom lighting projects, purchase a spool and cut wire as needed, keeping in mind that a shorter runs of lights is easier to handle when perched on a ladder.
To calculate how much power will be used in hanging Christmas lights, begin by deciding on bulb spacing. The most popular spacing between bulbs is 12'' and 15'' for the roof. If the bulbs are too close together, the lights from the bulbs will blend.
Lighting professionals calculate power wattage to prevent overloading the circuit or blowing a fuse. To determine Christmas light wattage, multiply the wattage of the bulb by the number of sockets, and divide by 115 to reach total amps. For example, 5 watt bulbs x 125 sockets / 115 = 5.43 amps. The total amps must be less than 10% of the total amps the wire is rated for. Using the wattage in our example, a wire rated for 7amps will work, but a wire rated for 5 amps would require a shorter run.
Select bulbs, calculate wattage, then choose bulb spacing. Closer bulb spacing is for smaller surface areas, while increased spacing is most used on high rooflines and large commercial buildings. Learn more about choosing bulb spacing:
Choosing the best Christmas light clips for the project is key. There is a large selection of clips for every application in hanging Christmas lights, whether hanging Christmas lights from gutters, high peaks, flat roof tops, siding, paint, or brick. Study which clips will work best with the roofline, shingles, or gutters, and pay attention to which bulb sockets will fit in each clip. All-in-one clips are a great pick because they work with the largest variety of bulbs and applications.
It's usually better to attach Christmas lights to the clips on the ground, climbing carefully up the ladder with only one string of lights at a time. Take caution not to let bulbs hit the ladder or walls while climbing on the ladder to prevent bulbs getting broken during installation.
The final step in hanging Christmas lights is to turn the power on and admire the view. Look for any bulbs that may not be lit, and ensure they are screwed in tightly, replacing if necessary. Set an outdoor timer to turn the lights on daily at dusk, and either turn off at midnight (a popular time), or the next morning. Most timers shut outdoor lights between 11pm and midnight to save on energy, yet stay on late enough for everyone who drives by to enjoy. Don't forget to take pictures and email customerservice (at) ChristmasLightsEtc.com so we can enjoy and post as well!
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Find the best clips for your applications with the Christmas Light Clips Guide. Hang along rooflines with clean details with Christmas light clips.
Learn more about wattage and amperage on Christmas lights, including how many lights you can run on a single outlet and how many strings can be connected together.
A visual guide to Christmas lights bulb sizes and shapes. Find the bulb you need in the socket size that you are looking for.