Decorating
Easy tutorial shows how to quickly find and replace burnt-out bulbs on Christmas lights
"Even as a retired electronic technician, I don't think I would have thought of this approach. It's quite ingenious actually."
Elijah Chan
12.05.22

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, once again.

You know what that means. Christmas decorations need to be put up once more.

But of course, this chore presents in own challenges.

Dealing with the pesky lightbulbs.

Pexels - Natasha Fernandez
Source:
Pexels - Natasha Fernandez

For one, the cats have, for the nth consecutive year, declared war against the Christmas trees.

And also for the nth consecutive year, Christmas lights have declared war against you.

Everyone has dealt with it.

Pexels - Arina Krasnikova
Source:
Pexels - Arina Krasnikova

Imagine the horror of plugging your carefully and intricately placed light only to watch it fail the only thing it’s meant to do – light up.

(I think we all remember Walt Girswold’s epic battle with the Christmas lights, don’t we?)

Christmas lights are like copy machines.

They can sense your fear. They can sense your need.

So at the perfect moment, they will decide to mess up the entire decoration inventory.

YouTube Screenshot - Gadget Reboot
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Gadget Reboot

The difficult thing about Christmas lights is the fact that they often use a series type of wiring.

Basically, if one bulb burns out, the entire thing won’t light up. But how does that work exactly?

Two wiring types- series and parallel.

A parallel line means that everything that is connected to the power source has its own wiring system that completes a circuit.

YouTube Screenshot - Gadget Reboot
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Gadget Reboot

Series is the opposite.

All the lights are connected to one line where electricity needs to pass through one before it could get to the other.

Christmas lights follow series wiring, and it makes it difficult to determine which bulb is messed up.

People are so discouraged sometimes that they just throw out the entire coil altogether.

Don’t toss yours just yet, though, especially if your lights are replaceable.

YouTube Screenshot - Gadget Reboot
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Gadget Reboot

In a series connection, depending on where the electricity is flowing, you wouldn’t detect power either on the bulb before the burnt-out one, or the one after.

How to find “dead” bulbs?

In this video, Gadget Reboot showed how to detect a dead bulb using a non-contact voltage tester.

The tester looks like a pen. What it does is detect electricity from a device or a wire without splicing wires.

It gives an alarm-like bleep to tell you that what you’re holding is “live”.

YouTube Screenshot - Gadget Reboot
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Gadget Reboot

To use this, press the tip of the voltage tester on the wire’s directly connected bulb.

It should have two.

It’s going to alarm when there’s electricity. Use the tester on each bulb and take note of which bulb is dead.

Then, re-plug the lights but this time the left prong should be on the right socket slot. The same goes for the right prong.

This will change the direction where the electricity is flowing.

YouTube Screenshot - Gadget Reboot
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Gadget Reboot

Test the bulbs again one by one. You’ll detect another dead bulb with one bulb between that and the first dead one you detected.

The middle bulb is the culprit.

Now that you know the burnt-out bulb, you can replace it with a new one.

This will save you some money because all you have to do is replace the bulb instead of buying an entire line of lights.

YouTube Screenshot - Gadget Reboot
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Gadget Reboot

You can also use the non-contact voltage detector on sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring.

Safe, easy, and doesn’t even make a mess.

See how to detect the bad apple in your Christmas lights with this pen in the video below!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

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By Elijah Chan
[email protected]
Elijah Chan is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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