With Christmas around the corner, you probably have a box of Christmas lights on hand. Most people are not content to wrap these lights around their tree. They want their entire house to twinkle with Christmas lights, both inside and outside. But if you don’t have enough outlets –which is the case for most people—is it appropriate to use extension cords?
Can You Plug An Extension Cord Into Christmas Lights?
Extension cords are dangerous. Electricians routinely discourage consumers from using the devices to power their kitchen appliances. But they don’t raise as much of a fuss about Christmas lights because they do not draw quite as much electricity. This doesn’t make extension cords in such a situation risk-free. But the threat is not as high.
You can use extension cords. But you need to know that the practice has its dangers.
I suggest you plug your lights into a wall outlet. But if you don’t have any outlets in the vicinity, use heavy-duty extension cords.
How To Plug Extension Cord Into Christmas Light?
You connect Christmas lights to an extension cord the same way you would any other appliance. Push the prongs of the extension cord into the slots of the Christmas lights. If the size of the prongs matches the size of the slots, the extension cord will plug into the Christmas lights.
Though, you may encounter challenges if the rating of the lights doesn’t match the rating of the extension cord.
Additionally, an extension cord with a polarized plug is a poor match for non-polarized Christmas lights.
Is It Safe To Use Christmas Lights As An Extension Cord?
Extension cords are dangerous. They start fires all the time, which is why professional electricians do not want you to use them. It is safer to plug Christmas lights directly into a wall outlet.
That being said, many people use extension cords because it is more convenient than asking an electrician to install additional wall outlets closer to the Christmas lights.
Christmas lights in an extension cord do not pose the same threat as heavy-duty items like microwaves and freezers. But you can still start a fire if you’re not careful. The key to using extension cords safely is to take the following precautions:
1). Use UL Certified Extension Cord
I want consumers to restrict their purchases to Christmas lights with an Underwriter’s Laboratory certification. Sometimes, Christmas lights start fires not because the owner used an extension cord but because the quality of the Christmas lights was low.
2). Use Extension Cord With Ground Line
I want you to prioritize three-wire extension cords, especially for outdoor Christmas lights. Three-wire extension cords have a ground line, which makes them safer than two-wire extension cords.
If you have a grounded extension cord (with three prongs), don’t cut the third prong off to plug the extension cord into an outlet with two slots.
3). Avoid Damaged Extension Cord
Pay close attention to the state of the extension cord. Look for signs of wear and tear, such as cracks on the socket, frayed wires, torn jackets, and the like. Avoid damaged extension cords. If the extension cord looks worn out, get a replacement.
4). Check The Rating
Have you checked the amperage of the Christmas lights? It should match the rating of the extension cord. The easiest way to start a fire is to overload the extension cord.
5). Don’t Daisy Chain Extension Cord
Don’t daisy chain the extension cords. This is where you plug one extension cord into another extension cord. It can cause overheating, which can lead to a fire.
6). Add GFCI
Add GFCI technology to the outlets outside the house. If you want to connect an outdoor extension cord to an outdoor outlet to operate the Christmas lights outside, a GFCI outlet will add an extra layer of protection.
7). Don’t Hide Extension Cord Under Carpet
Make sure the extension cord is ventilated. Don’t hide it under carpets or furniture. It will overheat and ignite the flammable materials in the area.
8). Switch Off The Light Before You Go To Bed
Most homeowners want their Christmas lights to stay on all night. But if your lights are connected to an extension cord, make sure you switch them off before you go to bed. If a fire starts late in the night, it may engulf your entire home before you notice. Don’t take any chances.
How Many Christmas Lights Can You Plug Into An Extension Cord?
Fortunately, the packaging tells you the number of lights you can use depending on the size of the circuit. You don’t have to guess.
The number of lights you connect to the circuit matters. You shouldn’t overload the circuit. In most cases, you won’t start any fires because the circuit breaker will trip. But it is still an inconvenience.
Experts-in-your-home wants you to connect three sets of lights or less to the extension cord. Any more, and you may start a fire.
Do You Need Special Extension Cord For Outdoor Christmas Lights?
You don’t need a special extension cord. You need the correct gauge. The gauge shows the thickness of the extension cord. A thick extension cord can carry more current safely than a thin extension cord.
Therefore, the thicker the gauge, the better. With extension cords, the length matters. Because an increase in length translates into an increase in the resistance, you compensate for the elevated length by raising the gauge.
I want you to use 16-gauge extension cords for Christmas lights that run for 25 feet or less. For Christmas lights that run for more than 25 feet, you need 14-gauge extension cords.
Can I Use An Indoor Extension Cord Outside For Christmas Lights?
I don’t want homeowners to use indoor extension cords outside because manufacturers design outdoor extension cords to survive extreme conditions. Indoor extension cords are not quite as strong as their outdoor counterparts.
To be clear, you can use indoor extension cords outside if you wish, but it isn’t safe. Because their gauge is typically lower, you are more likely to overwhelm them.
Christmas Lights Won’t Plug Into Extension Cord – What is the Cause?
You are trying to connect a polarized plug to a non-polarized outlet or vice-versa. This is more common than you think. With a polarized plug, one of the blades is wider, which is why the plug cannot enter a non-polarized outlet on an extension cord. The prongs don’t match the slots.
How To Fix It?
- Get new lights or a different extension cord. The goal is to get a non-polarized plug for the non-polarized outlet or a polarized outlet for the polarized plug.
- Replace the polarized plug with a non-polarized plug. This involves cutting the old plug off and wiring a new plug in its place.
Can I Hide Christmas Lights Extension Cords – How?
Extension cords are tricky because you can’t conceal them under objects like carpets. They will overheat. Some practical options include:
- Hanging the extension cord on a wall
- Placing it in the gap between the wall and an object like a couch
- Attaching it to the back of furniture with tiny adhesive hooks
- Country Living suggests wrapping the extension cord in a jute rope
Best Extension Cord For Christmas Lights
The tips mentioned above can minimize the risks associated with extension cords. But they won’t help you if you have a low-quality extension cord. If you need help finding trustworthy extension cords for Christmas lights, try these options:
Even though it is categorized as an outdoor extension cord, you can use this item indoors. At 16AWG, it isn’t necessarily a heavy-duty extension cord. But it can withstand the electrical demands of Christmas lights.
The extension cord is resistant to flames, abrasion, and water, which is why you can safely use it outside. Expect a rating of 1250W, 10A, and 125V.
This 16AWG, 13A, 1625W, 125VAC 3-prong extension cord was designed for indoor and outdoor use. Boasting copper wire construction, the manufacturers used a vinyl covering to give the extension cord a defense against sunlight, abrasion, and moisture. You can use it to run everything from snow removal equipment to Christmas lights.
This is a flexible 1875W, 15A, 14/3 extension cord with a rubber jacket. It doesn’t kink, coil unnecessarily, or stiffen in cold conditions. It is resistant to abrasion, oil, and water.
The wire on the inside is 100 percent copper. The extension cord comes with a lifetime warranty (against manufacturing defects).
This is a reliable extension cord with 3-prong outlets and an overload breaker switch that provides added protection. The 180-degree swivel makes the extension cord very easy to mount and utilize. Because of the heavy-duty construction, you can trust it to withstand the electrical requirements of Christmas lights safely.