Holidays are a known time for seeing friends and family, some of whom you may not be able to see often throughout the rest of the year. A hobby some people love during the holidays is to add decorative lighting to add a warm welcoming appeal to their homes. Whether your lighting is serious and somber to show your religious beliefs or fun and playful to reflect your personality, there are a few things to be aware of with the extra power draw your decorations put on your house.
Tech Specs and Electrical Engineering
When the public electric line reaches your house, it runs to a circuit breaker (or fuse box in older homes) to prevent dangerous levels of overload which could cause a shock, and the breaker is designed to automatically shut off if a dangerous level of electricity is reached with a surge or if too many appliances are run. There are exceptions, but most circuit breakers are designed to handle 15 amps, or a little over 1600 watts of power which is plenty for modern appliances.
The Simple Terms: When You Run Too Much Power
When you overload a circuit breaker, it becomes a nuisance as everything running on that line shuts down. It's not normally a daily occurrence, but usually only happens when something exceptional occurs. Running too many kitchen appliances at once, for example, can overload a circuit breaker, as can running a space heater or power tool on a line already being used. A common cause of circuit failure is when you've never had a problem running a hairdryer and curling iron until a guest in the guest bath turns on a second hairdryer. Holiday lighting usually runs on a low power supply but adds up when layered and can cause problems with a line which is already near its maximum usage levels.
The Layman's and the Professional's Solutions
If you find holiday lighting to cause a problem, the layman's solution is simple, simply use a different outlet to plug into running off a circuit breaker you aren't ordinarily using as much. If you're using a huge amount of holiday lighting that may not work, or there may just not be a conveniently located plug for your lighting. The professional solution is to add a new circuit breaker. With this option, you'll have peace of mind as to the safety of your lighting and room to add more next year.