Although you only do it once a year, decorating
the exterior of your haunted home for Halloween can be a very time consuming task, but
with a well thought out plan and some volunteers, you can have your lights up in no time.
The first step is to create a master plan of what
your decorating will look like. The best way is to make a rough sketch of your house,
yard, garage or anywhere you'll be decorating. This should include anything that you will
hang lights and/or decorations on, including fences, trees, etc. Be sure to indicate where
all your exterior electrical outlets are located.
Hanging lights on your
house and fence isn't difficult, but there are a few things that can help make it even
Always check the package to
find out how many light sets can be connected to each other so you don't overload your
circuits. Miniature cup-hooks are great for stringing light sets along a wood surface. You
can also use a staple gun can to fasten the lights into place, but be careful not
to staple through the wire.
Plastic light hooks are
available at major retailers and hardware and are used to secure lights to the gutters of
your home. When you put outdoor lights
up, besides watching out for overloaded circuits and cords, you need to be sure that water
won't damage the lights or cause a short circuit. If you have an open
ended plug it can be easily covered using a plastic outlet cover
available in child safety section of department stores like Wal-Mart.
Position your yard displays
for the best impact on your trick or treaters. This might mean experimenting
with positioning before you
set them securely in place. Use a small floodlight or two to focus attention on the display if it
isn't a lighted display piece.
Don't go cheap here! For
outdoor use only heavy duty, outdoor rated extension cords. Make sure to position all
extension cords so that they won't be tripped over. Never run them across a walkway,
door opening. This is an accident waiting to happen.
And don't forget to take pictures of your
house with the lights on. The best time of day is at dusk when the
Halloween lights shine
brightly but there's still enough daylight for the camera to take great
pictures. When the first
Halloween decoration hunters roll around complete with a backseat full of kids, their faces
glued to the windows in awe, you'll see that all your hard work really was worth it!
Rain, wind, snow and other
adverse weather conditions can cause a problem with outdoor lights and lighted displays.
Make sure the lights are rated for outdoor use.
We start putting up our lights
at least two weeks before Halloween.
FIGURING OUT AMPERAGE
Q) How do I figure out how
many amps of electricity I am drawing with my circuit?
A) To figure out how many amps of power you are using, add the total WATTS and divide by
source VOLTAGE. Example: A string of 25 lights that have 7 watt bulbs would be (25 Bulbs X
7 Watts = 175 Watts. 175 watts Divided by 110 volts = 1.59 Amps.)
HALLOWEEN FIGURE DISPLAYS
Q) Where can I get patterns
for making wooden outdoor Halloween Figures?
A) One of the best pattern suppliers in the world is the "Winfield Collection".
The Winfield Collection is one of the few reasonably priced mail order catalogues that
carry a wide variety of indoor and outdoor woodcraft patterns. Best of all, the patterns
are delivered right to your home! All you have to do to get your free catalogue is call
(toll free) 1-800-WINFIELD.They also now have a web page and can be
found at http://www.thewinfieldcollection.com.
Q) The instructions on my mini
light set states "If one bulb burns out the rest stay lit." Why are all of the
lights on my string out?
A) If any part of string does not light please attempt the following: Firmly push each
bulb into the base to secure it in the socket (occasionally bulbs will loosen). Remove each bulb
and base from the socket. Straighten the wires which extend from the
bottom of the base, then bend around the base. Insert bulb firmly into socket. Check to make
sure the fuse in the plug did not overload (if there is one). If it was
overloaded, then replace the fuse in the first set and all of the sets will re-light.
Practically all light sets come with spare bulbs and fuses.
The above should also be
followed if half of your mini/icicle light string is out. How can half of your lights be
on and the other half off? The answer is simple. Your light string is wired 1/2 and 1/2 in
series. That means that if you have a break in the circuit, the half of the string in
which the break occurs will appear "burnt out". The best advice anybody can
offer is to follow the steps outlined above. If that doesn't work, it's
possible that there is actually a break in the wire. In this case, throw
the lights out and buy new or return them for a new string.
TIPS: Replace burned out bulbs
as soon as possible, as they will cause other bulbs to overheat and will reduce the life
of the whole string.
Have you ever noticed that
some strings of lights look brighter than others, even ones that are the same type? There
are a number of factors which determine the brightness of any given string of lights.
1. When running a long extension
cord, a lot of electrical energy is lost due to the resistance of the wire. Using outdoor
extension cords that have 16 gauge wire or better will help.
2. The wire used in light
strings is light duty and is not designed to handle excessive amounts of electrical
current. So string as few strings together as possible.
Q) The Halloween lights that I
purchased contain a fuse in the male-end plug. When I connect more than 5 strings
together, the fuse "burns out", preventing all 5 strings from illuminating. What
can I do?
A) The main reason that light manufacturers' install fuses in the male end of
lights is to prevent an overload. There are a few ways around this problem. First,
read the box the lights came in to make sure that you aren't connecting
too many strings together. That rule is there for a reason. Next, you
could run numerous extension cords to every fourth or fifth string of
This will break up the electrical load traveling through the wires of the light strings.
Unfortunately, this can get costly, not to mention create a rather unpleasant mess of
They should all carry the
Laboratories, Inc. label. Extension cords should also be UL-labeled for outdoor use.
As with indoor lights, don't plug too many lights into a single circuit. Remember that in
most houses the outdoor outlets are probably on the same circuit with indoor outlets,
lights, and appliances; this will limit how many light strings you can plug in safely.
you're one of those families who put up huge light displays every
Halloween, you may
already have special circuits just for the yard display. If not, you
should think about having an electrician come and add extra outlets on a
separate circuit breaker for the outside of your home.