The days are becoming shorter and darkness is falling earlier as we move from summer into the fall and winter months. On any given evening, the weather may still be pleasant enough to spend outdoors, but outdoor lighting is now more important. We also need to think about holiday lighting and other decorations, and consider if our electrical outlets are up to the task. Here are three tips to help you safely and effectively prepare your outdoor lighting for fall.
1. Replace Bulbs
It’s likely that some of the bulbs in your outdoor fixtures have burned out during the summer months. Turn on all your outdoor lights and take a walk around the house, noting which ones aren’t illuminated. If you can easily reach the lights from the ground, go ahead and replace the dead bulbs. If you have tricky light fixtures that are difficult to open, or others that can only be reached with a ladder, call an electrician. Since the bulbs in outdoor fixtures may not be replaced promptly when they die, we recommend using the highest-quality bulbs available for the greatest longevity.
2. Upgrade Outlets
If you plan an elaborate outdoor lighting display for Christmas, make sure the circuits can handle the load. Add up the amperage of all the lights and other electric-powered displays you plan to use (such as lawn inflatables and motorized reindeer), and make sure the total is less than what the circuit breaker or fuse on that circuit is rated for. If the total is too high, you might be able to split the load with another outdoor outlet on another circuit. Otherwise, you’ll have to either scale your plans back or add an outlet on a different circuit.
Make sure all outdoor outlets are protected in waterproof boxes and are of the GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) type. GFCI outlets look like traditional outlets but have small ‘test’ and ‘reset’ buttons on their face. This allows them to monitor the flow of electricity and quickly shut off energy flow should a disturbance in the current occur – as might happen if they get wet. If your outdoor outlets lack GFCI protection or waterproof enclosures, have them replaced by an electrician.
3. Have a Professional Inspection
It’s a good idea to have an electrician come to your home or office once a year to perform an inspection. An electrician will check for shorts or wiring problems, ensure that all outlets are of the appropriate type, and make suggestions on lighting upgrades or improvements. If you have questions about adding to or changing your outdoor lighting, an electrician can guide you on the best decisions. If you have hard-to-reach bulbs that need replacing but cannot safely use a ladder, an electrician can do this for you.
Eric M. Krise Electrical Contractor, LLC, offers electrical construction, repair and inspection services throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. If you’re ready to prepare your home’s electrical systems for the holidays, please contact us for an appointment.