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5 Reasons why your Christmas Lights don’t work

Posted by John Jenkins on

Around this time of year, we always hear about people’s woe’s and heartbreaks when they realize that their Christmas lights aren’t working.  Either half the strand is out, bulbs are broken, or they simply won’t even turn on.  We’ve compiled together a simple list for reasons why this happens to people – seemingly year, after year, after year – to help you get back on the festive track!

1. The filament is burnt out.  

This seems to be the case more often than not when dealing with incandescent lights.  Generally people complain that their Christmas lights only last a year, and when they pull them out the next holiday season, they find that they’re useless.  This can happen for multiple reasons; the power supply, for instance, may not be stable and may become higher for a short period of time (also known as a spike).  This can cause an overheating of the filament, which may burn. Did you know? An incandescent bulb can reach heat of up to 200oC!

2. The fuse(s) might have blown.

Check to see if there is a fuse or two in the plug.  There will be a little tab that slides out.  You can buy new fuses for about $2.

3. A bulb might be missing.

If half of your strand of Christmas lights are out, chances are, you’re missing a bulb!  Test the bulbs with an inexpensive tester, available where holiday lights are sold and online.  Usually, changing a problem bulb (or tightening it) will fix the entire strand.  The tester will indicate which bulbs are bad and need to be replaced.  But what if I don’t have an extra bulb?  No worries, you can fix this by rolling up some aluminum foil to connect the two prongs inside the casing – thus maintaining/re-creating the flow of electricity.   **NOTE: Make sure the strand of lights is unplugged before you insert the foil.**

4. Your holiday lights are, well, cheap.

Keep in mind that most cheap light strands are built cheaply.  They aren’t meant to provide you with years and years of holiday joy.  Sometimes a loose bulb, broken socket, or frayed wire is all it takes for the whole strand to malfunction.

5. You don’t have LED holiday lighting yet!

LED’s are many leaps and bounds better than your old incandescent bulbs you might be using still.   Less power usage, longer runs from a single outlet, bright colors and much more. See what is available here!


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3 comments


  • Bought those expensive GE ice cycle lights that you hang off your gutters and got one year or should say month out of them. plug them up next year and some of the strands have a few ice cycles that won’t light up. It’s not the fuse or whole strand be out. Stay away

    Donewith Exteriorlighting on

  • If you take your lights down while they are all working then the next year they don’t work you can’t say it’s a bulb or fuse issue. The REAL problem is that the companies that make them engineer them so that they WILL NOT last and thus you will have to give them more money next year. This is criminal in my opinion. No one goes through the trouble of checking 100+ bulbs to see if one magically burnt out while in storage and they expect that. They are knowingly ripping off the consumer

    Doug on

  • If you take your lights down while they are all working then the next year they don’t work you can’t say it’s a bulb or fuse issue. The REAL problem is that the companies that make them engineer them so that they WILL NOT last and thus you will have to give them more money next year. This is criminal in my opinion. No one goes through the trouble of checking 100+ bulbs to see if one magically burnt out while in storage and they expect that. They are knowingly ripping off the consumer

    Doug on

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