Spread out the lights on different electrical outlets
One of the easiest ways to avoid overloading your system is to spread your lights into different outlets and different circuits. The more power being drawn from a single spot, the more strain it can put on the system. Even if you have the outlet space, remember that each circuit has it’s limits.
Check your adapters
If the adapter is cheaply made or in poor condition, it can easily cause a safety hazard and should not be used. If the adapter is in good condition, still make sure not to overload the wattage limit of the adapter- which may be different than the limit of the circuit. Using too many adapters in one outlet is also a potential hazard because if the weight of the plugs draws the plugs away from the outlet, it exposes the blades of the plugs while still energized.
Do the math
Though it may not be your favorite subject, calculating how much power you are using from a single circuit is important. Start by checking the amperage on the packaging on a set of lights by dividing the watts by 120. A string of lights that uses 250 watts will have an average of 2.08 Amps. Each circuit can handle either 15 or 20 amps (the breaker should be labeled with which) before the breaker trips. On a 15 amp circuit, you could safely have 6 strings of these lights if nothing else is on that same circuit. A 15 amp circuit can handle up to about 1800 watts and a 20 amp circuit can manage up to 2400. It’s also a good idea to only use 80% of what the circuit can handle. Remember, holiday lights are not the only things using up the energy, so other household items operating on the same circuit must be included in the total wattage as well.
Utilize LEDs whenever possible
Many lights are now available with LED bulbs. While generally more expensive to purchase, LEDS cost significantly less to operate because they use a fraction of the electricity. LEDs use less wattage than standard bulbs that are comparatively bright. Thus, you can use more LED lights per circuit then you could with traditional lights. Bonus: LED lights rarely get hot and last much longer than traditional bulbs.
Happy Holidays from the team at Wentzel’s Heating, Air Conditioning, Electrical & Insulation