Sadly, the incidents of house fires can rise up by 50% during the festive season, often caused by poor quality Christmas lights. Thankfully, this year’s trend is for LED Christmas lights, which have major advantages in terms of Christmas light fire safety.
So, before you dig out those old lights from the loft for yet another year, consider replacing them instead. Inevitably, setting up traditional mains powered fairy lights will include tracking down the one bulb that has blown in the set, which involves a lot of fiddling and cursing in my experience. Then, just as you get them onto the tree and switch them on, another bulb blows.
A blown bulb in a mains-powered traditional set of lights causes the other lights to burn hotter. Now, imagine the effect of a super-hot bulb on a real Christmas tree that has been drying out since you placed it in the house weeks before. It’s a fir-tree-fueled fire waiting to happen.
Choosing Your Christmas Lights
Now, you may be wondering why Fire Protection Online are so keen on LED lights when we don’t actually sell them. The answer is simple; we want every UK home to be as well protected against fire as possible. We would far rather than our sensitive 10 year battery smoke detectors didn’t go off because your Christmas tree was starting to smoulder, or you had to use one of our 2kg powder home fire extinguishers to put the resulting flames out. Neither do we want you to have to treat burnt fingers using our home first aid kit.
LED lights are always cool to the touch, unlike traditional fairy lights, since LED lights are much more efficient at converting electricity into light, with less energy lost as heat. They use less power too; some manufacturers claim they save 90% electricity over normal bulbs, as traditional fairy lights often run at 140w.
LED Christmas lights also last much longer, up to 10 years’ use, or 100,000 hours, if handled carefully. With no delicate filament to break, and double-sealed bulb that can’t come loose, if a bulb does fail, just leave it: the rest should continue to be lit.
The best quality LED Christmas lights have full rubber cabling (to IP44 standard) and an IP64 grade transformer suitable for use both indoors and outdoors. The IP rating refers to the protection provided against objects and fluids; the two numbers indicate the rating level. For example, an IP44 rated lighting string is “Protected against solid objects over 1mm (tools / wires / small wires)” as indicated by the first number 4, and also is “Protected against water sprayed from all directions – limited ingress permitted” as indicated by the second number 4.
Some manufacturers offer connecting light systems that allow you to connect several strings of lights to each other, powered by just one transformer unit. This reduces the number of 13 amp sockets involved and eliminates those trip-hazard power cable tangles.
Christmas Light Fire Safety
So, you can hang long strings of multi-coloured LED Christmas lights near furnishings or fabrics in your home much more safely. (Note, please, we said near, not actually on!) If a bulb does get accidentally broken, the low voltage ensures that children or pets won’t receive a nasty shock if they touch it. However, you should always keep cabling, lights and transformers out of reach to both tiny hands and canine teeth…
Unfortunately, all low voltage LED lights do have one part that can get very warm indeed; the transformer. Always site your transformer away from carpets, furnishings, and where the air can circulate around it to keep it cool. NEVER cover your transformer by tucking it behind curtains, and never pile present so close around the tree that they touch the transformer. If there is one thing that burns quicker than dry Christmas trees, it’s Christmas wrapping paper.
Always unplug your lights when you retire at night, or put them on a timer, so you are not wasting electricity putting on a light show that only your cat can appreciate. This also gives the transformer time to cool down properly, reducing the risk of overheating.
If after all the effort of putting up your lights, you’ve left no time to buy presents, never fear, help is at hand. Here are our three quirky fire safety gift ideas…