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Christmas Lights

Christmas lights
What symbolizes the start of the holiday season more than putting up Christmas lights? Whether you're up on a ladder stringing them along your gutters or wrapping them around the tree, the bright colors and soft glow of those little bulbs are a staple of the festive season.

History of Christmas lights

The tradition of putting electric lights on the Christmas tree arose in the late 1800s as a modern extension of using candles on branches. Edward History Johnson, an associate of Thomas Edison, is believed to be the first to create a display and, by 1895, the White House under President Grover Cleveland had some on the tree.

It wasn't until the 1930s, however, that the custom spread to the masses. After years of high prices and low supply, techniques for mass production made Christmas lights affordable for nearly every home. Before too long, many towns started using electric lights for decorating their neighborhoods. The strands of bulbs became less and less expensive over the years,
leading to doorways, rooflines, windows, mantles and just about any part of a home or building you can think of – from small store fronts to massive skyscrapers – having at least some lights during the holiday season. And, as technology has become a larger part of our lives, the current trend of setting these displays to music has become more and more prevalent.

Kinds of Christmas lights

The traditional lights everyone associates with Christmas are incandescent, modeled on the original light bulb. Because they've been around for so long and are relatively easy to produce, they are the least expensive. However, energy inefficiencies and questionable durability have made them less desirable now that new products are available that provide better color for a longer period of time while reducing energy costs.

These advanced bulbs are known as light emitting diodes (LEDs). Though only reaching stores in great numbers during the last few years, LEDs are rapidly replacing incandescent bulbs as the first choice because they use as much as 90-98% less electricity. This allows them to be powered by small batteries for extended periods of time, so much so that state-of-the-art outdoor strands have small solar panels to soak up energy during the day and save your electric bill at night.

Creative lighting

One of the wonders of the holiday season is the lengths people go to in order to produce magnificent displays. The only limit is your imagination and, if you choose to get creative, you will certainly brighten the festive period for anyone that passes by. You can go the simple route and collect manufactured pieces in certain shapes (Santa, Rudolph, the Nativity, etc.) or, if you're really feeling adventurous and have the talent, craft your own. After all that, when you've got your Christmas lights spread across the house and yard just as you like, you can go further by synchronizing them with a computer program. The only true limits are your imagination and spare time!

Safety issues with Christmas lights

Like all electrical gadgets, Christmas lights also need to be used with some caution. Some basic safety measures can ensure that your family can have a safe Christmas. Just keep in mind the following tips while using electrical Christmas lights.

  • Make sure you have proper fuses, whether looking at an old or new set.
  • Check sockets, wires and connecting points for signs of damage and repair them, if you can. Otherwise, get rid of them.
  • Look for certifications from an international testing agency, like UL and ETL.
  • Be sure to put lights appropriate for where you're displaying them. For example, “Outdoor” should go up outside.
  • Avoid overloading extension cords. Doing so may spark a fire.
  • Turn off your Christmas lights when you go to sleep.
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Last Updated :- 15 December, 2011

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