hanging christmas lights outside

How to Hang Christmas Lights Outside?

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It’s the most beautiful time of the year! Christmas trees are being set up, presents are being wrapped, and festive lights are filling the streets.

If you’ve decided to start hanging Christmas lights outside of your house, make sure to plan ahead and be prepared.

You also want to guarantee that you’re picking the right type of outdoor lights for your festive display.

If you’re wondering how to hang Christmas lights outside, you’re in the right place.

We look at all the different types of outdoor Christmas lights you can get and tell you how to design your lighting plan.

We also share with you how to safely hang your outdoor Christmas lights.

Different Types of Outdoor Christmas Lights

There are several types of outdoor Christmas lights, so do your research before you begin shopping so you don’t end up with the wrong type.

Make sure your outdoor lights are marked for “indoor/outdoor use.” Outdoor Christmas lights can withstand the elements for safe use.

Here are the different types of outdoor Christmas lights:

  • C7 or C9 bulbs are the cone-shaped lights often found in home improvement and convenience stores. C9 has a bigger wattage but both come in clear frosted or clear color bulbs.
  • Mini bulbs cost less than C7 and C9 and consume less power. They come in series, so if a bulb fails, the rest is affected.
  • T5 Mini bulbs are traditionally incandescent but are now available as an LED.

Use Waterproof Lights

While there is a variety of lights to choose from, make sure you always go for waterproof variants with a tag marked underwriters lab (UL).

This label means that the product meets the standards of the national industry with the American National Standards Institute.

Why You Should Choose Solar Christmas Lights

If you have a green thumb, you know how environmentally friendly solar power is.

The earth takes 174 petawatts of incoming solar radiation, and 30% bounces back to the oceans, clouds, and landmasses, heating our planet.

This sustainable source of energy doesn’t contribute to your electric bills too. You are getting lighting for free!

Solar holiday lights mean you won’t have to worry about the power going out or electrical issues because of the dangerous extension cords.

You can hang them on your walls, gutters, doors, gardens, trees, and walkways.

Try Brightown Store’s 2 Packs of Outdoor Solar String Lights. These brilliant LED string lights are 33 feet long with 100 bulbs each.

With 8 lighting modes, you can set them to flash in a variety of ways. They are also waterproof, so can withstand outdoor elements like snow and rain.

Design Your Lighting Plan

Your lighting display should be compatible with the style of your home. Is your house modern, Tudor, or Victorian? Is it a bungalow or multi-story house?

You also want your design to complement your neighborhood’s lighting plan and show something different. Be sure to walk around your neighborhood to borrow ideas and get inspiration.

Before coming up with a plan, take a few photos of your house from the street. Print them out and do a rough sketch of where you want to hang your lights.

Consider adding decorations to the yard, porch, fences, and other areas as well.

There are no rules when it comes to the design of your lights. However, these tips will surely help.

If your house is Victorian, keep it classy by using strings of lights around every feature of the house to emphasize its stature.

If you have a single-story home, add lights around the roof line, fence, and your walkway or driveway.

If you have a multi-story home, try the same design as the Victorian style, but with less fluff. 

Measuring Your Home

Use a tape measure to measure the width and height of the area where you plan to place your lights.

When measuring where the lights will hang, just measure the length of the house, gutters, and windows from the bottom for reference. This will save you a trip up the ladder.

After measuring your house, evaluate your power situation. Where will the outlets be? Do you need exterior-grade cords?

Remember that this will not be necessary if you use solar-powered Christmas lights.

How to Safely Hang Christmas Lights

Always consider safety when hanging Christmas lights around your home exterior.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to safely setting up your exterior Christmas lights.

1.    Check the Weather

Don’t be impulsive! Check the time and weather first before installing your lights.

The best time to hang them is during a mild winter day in the mid-morning when there is plenty of daylight left.

Lay the lights in the garage or another dry place and untangle any strings and cords before going out to climb the walls. 

2.    Test Your Lights

Before climbing a ladder and hanging your lights, plug them in to make sure all the bulbs are working.

You don’t want to waste your time hanging them only to find out they’re not working.

3.    Use the Right Tools

Use a high-quality ladder and secure with insulated holders when installing your lights, like this Little Giant Ladder.

Available in four sizes and seven styles, this multi-position ladder will safely assist you when climbing your house to hang your Christmas lights.

It has adjusters so you can quickly alter your ladder to different configurations and can hold up to 300 pounds of weight.

If you work alone, use a basket or bucket with a handle to haul the light and other materials up and down.

Casabella 4-Gallon Bucket

Pre-installed hooks or holders will also help when it comes to draping extension cords. They will make your installation more convenient.

Choose rubber, heavy-duty plastic, or stainless steel fasteners instead of white nails, screws, or other metallic fasteners that can rust.

These items can damage your gutter, the shingles, or the lights.

Plastic light clips are also inexpensive and designed for hanging Christmas lights. They’re the best option for hanging lights around the gutters.

Space them uniformly, and take into consideration the space between the bulbs and light strings.

If you’re attaching light strings to areas like balconies or porch railings, use plastic zip ties. They’re strong, weather-resistant, and easy to remove.

12" Inch Zip Ties White (100 Pack), 40lb Strength, Nylon Cable Wire Ties, By Bolt Dropper.

4.    Start from Top to Bottom

Once your materials are ready and your lights are tested, it’s time to hang.

Start with the highest point and work your way from side to side then down.

Ask for assistance from a partner to make the process easier. They can also act as a spotter while you’re on the ladder.

5.    Use Proper Outlets

A ground fault circuit outlet or GFCI should be your source of power for your Christmas lights. It can shut the circuit down in case an overcurrent occurs.

You may also seek the help of a qualified electrician to permanently install one outdoors.

Aside from the outlet, make sure that the extension cords are out of the way. These cables must be suitable for outdoor use.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, do not use more than three standard length strings of lights per one extension cord

Tape them across walkways, and use the correct length needed to travel to your lights.

Once it’s all set, plug the male end of the last strand into an extension cord. Then, plug the extension cord into the outdoor outlet.

This video explains how to hang your Christmas lights outside!

How to Deal with Electrical Issues

It’s typical to blow a fuse on a light strand when stringing lights outdoors.

To check, just look for the tiny fuse behind a small slide on the male end of the plug. You’ll know it needs replacement if the fuse is burned out.

Blown fuses are often a result of moisture that gets in the connectors that attach the strings.

Have a Brilliant Christmas!

While you may be enthusiastic about setting up your Christmas lights outside, the task is not an easy one.

You need to have a good plan and the right tools, such as ladders, plastic clips, and a bucket. You also want to have a partner to assist you in hanging the exterior Christmas lights.

Always start from top to bottom to make installation more convenient and safer.

Make sure that you hang the Christmas lights on your gutter without using nails that rust and destroy your roof.