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Merry and bright: A few holiday lighting tips from the experts

Ready to up the ante on your display? Here are some tidbits of advice from the pros
A stunning light display photographed last month in the Prairie Village neighborhood in Longmont. (Photo by Shona Crampton)

If 2020 has left you wanting to up the cheer factor this holiday season with a little more outdoor glow, professional Christmas light installers have you covered with expert advice on safely bringing the bright. 

 A good starting point for installation tricks are tips from the Christmas Light Installation Pros Association, or CLIPA, a certification and standards group created to support the holiday lighting industry.

Generally, the group reminds homeowners to keep lighting color, shades of white and bulb types consistent. It also recommends positioning lights pointing down or up but never out, as lights pointed out can become an issue during rain. And it suggests buying replacement bulbs for next year during this year’s after-Christmas lighting sales.

Austin Trout, a Northern Colorado-based installer, reminded people to start by knowing the size of their light strings for a more professional result and to be careful about overloading circuit lines. “Know your electrical limitations before going full Griswold,” he said.

Matt Hendricks, maintenance division sales manager at Longmont-based Long’s Peak Landscaping, recommends homeowners use waterproof sets of LED lights with larger diodes for brightness. 

“Homeowners should also pay attention to light spacing, as that makes a difference in the overall look of their display,” he said.

Some of the latest trends Hendricks has seen include tree wraps and ornaments such as starlight clusters and lighted spheres. He said some clients also like wire decorative forms with lights clipped to them.

One of the biggest tips Hendricks has for homeowners is to take notes on what they’ve done so it’s easier to recreate their displays. He also advises they pay attention to how they store lights. 

“Organizing your lights and decorations well prevents tangles and wear and tear on your lights. It also makes everything easier next year when you have to start the whole process over again,” Hendricks said.

CLIPA members in the tips forum also reminded homeowners to keep safety top of mind. 

In 2018, electrical decorations, not including Christmas tree lights, were estimated to have caused more than 36,000 injuries nationwide, according to data published by Science News.

The pros advise people to be sure they are safely using ladders, to inspect their lights to make sure they’re in good condition and to be careful about how many strands of lights are connected. Too many, or the wrong types of connections, can cause problems, according to the experts.

For those homeowners looking to hire light installers, the CLIPA group advised them to ensure contractors have the proper insurance and licensing. Members also emphasized how much light installers, who often are small business owners, appreciate the work in what has been a difficult year.