Summer is almost upon us, which means more time spent outdoors. Of course, you will want to enjoy your yard at night, which is where outdoor lights come in. Read on to find out how summer heat affects your string lights.
Is summer heat bad for outdoor string lights?
Normal summer conditions generally won’t harm your outdoor string lights. But they will have to be true outdoor-rated lights that can withstand environmental extremes. At the very least, they should be able to withstand conditions that such lights would normally be subjected to in a typical home.
Lights designed for indoor use are made of plastic that can become brittle and crack when repeatedly exposed to alternating spells of heat and moisture. And that doesn’t even consider what that will do to the electrical components.
Secondly, the lights shouldn’t be subjected to unusual conditions that can cause them to heat up excessively. This means they shouldn’t be left on for extended periods while directly exposed to heat sources. They should also be powered appropriately, which means no abnormally long cable runs or overloaded circuits.
Leaving Outdoor Lights on For Long Periods
Like all bulbs, the ones in your outdoor lights will heat up when left on for hours. Add blazing sunlight and high temperatures to the equation, and you could conceivably shorten their life and even cause permanent damage.
But this is a pretty extreme scenario. Most people wouldn’t use outdoor lights under such conditions, so they should be relatively safe. Even so, there are some things you can do to prevent damaging your outdoor light, such as:
- Plugging them into GFCI outlets (also reduces the risk of electrical hazards)
- Discarding light strings with brittle or worn wires
- Using outdoor-rated bulbs
- Keeping electrical sockets away from heat and moisture
Follow these simple tips, and your outdoor lights should provide safe and reliable service for a long time. To learn more, read about if outdoor lights are waterproof and how to choose the best outdoor lights.
Protecting Lighting Fixtures
Most people are primarily concerned about their outdoor lights, but lighting fixtures should also be treated with care and caution. Like bulbs, these should be rated for outdoor use, but also give some thought to how and where you will use them.
For instance, lights installed under overhanging sheds or porch roofs can be safely used outside if designed for damp conditions. On the other hand, lights installed without protective coverings overhead should be rated as “weather-resistant” or “weatherproof”.
A Note on Outdoor Bulbs
The light bulbs are arguably the most important part of the equation. In most cases, outdoor lights should only be used with bulbs rated for outdoor use. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on what bulbs should be installed and never place them near flammable materials.
Other Safety Considerations
Outdoor ratings apply to extension cords as well. It is generally safer to plug your lights directly into an electrical outlet, but this isn’t always feasible. If you have to use an extension cord, go for a thick, outdoor-rated one. Indoor extension cords are usually too flimsy to use outside and will likely become worn sooner than later.
Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) are your best friends if you have to keep something plugged in for extended periods. These are quite useful for indoor and outdoor use, but they are practically essential for outdoor lights.
Finally, consider whether you have to leave your outdoor lights plugged in at all times. There is always some risk when leaving your lights connected to a power outlet, especially if it is installed outside. Keep your lights disconnected if you don’t plan to use them anytime soon.
Outdoor string lights are safe to use under most weather conditions if you keep these safety tips in mind. Always err on the side of caution and use your better judgment, and you can continue to use your lights safely for a long time.
Contact LED Lights Unlimited
If you have any questions or concerns about your LED lights, feel free to contact us! Our experienced staff is happy to assist you.