We recently had potential customer email us who was frustrated that her outdoor lighting kept going off when it rained. She felt that there must be a Christmas light out there that would work better for her than the mini lights she was using to lay in flower beds year round for extra light in her backyard. Fortunately before she spend a lot of money on products she asked for help and we want to share the information with you our followers who may also be in similar situations.
First off, most homes in the US with current wiring have GFCI outlets outdoors that "trip" or break the electrical circuit to an outlet when too much power goes through them or when they detect moisture in the line. This is for your safety and it is a good thing. However, we know it can be frustrating as a property owner to always have to go out and reset the GFCI when it rains, sprinklers come on, or it is a hot, humid day and the GFCI decides to pop!
Here are a few tips you can employ to make this less likely to occur.
- Make sure your GFCI outlet has a good weatherproof cover on it that allows cords to be plugged in and still cover the outlet. Here is a pretty good one on Amazon that won't cost you a fortune Taymac MM710C Weatherproof Single Outlet Cover Outdoor Receptacle Protector, 4-3/4 Inches Deep, Clear or you can pick one up at just about any hardware or home improvement store locally.
- Make sure cords plugged into a GFCI hang down so any water that gets on them runs away from the plug not to the plug itself.
- Do not tape connections on your lights. I know some people swear by doing this but in our experience it instead holds any moisture in and makes it a real nightmare to deal with. If you want to make sure connections are secure, just us a quick figure 8 of electrical tape on them but make sure they can still dry out if water gets on them.
- Elevate plug connections off the ground where they would be sitting in water. Use metal stakes, all in one stakes or even just putting them up on a block off wood off the ground can help.
- You can also put a small container over the top so rain or sprinklers don't directly hit the plugs but make sure it is propped enough that air can circulate and humidity doesn't build inside.
- Do not lay mini lights straight on to the ground. Their sockets are meant to keep water out for the most part but they still have some openings that water can get in and it has a really hard time getting out and drying out. Use mini lights to wrap trees, shrubs or bushes but try not to just lay them in flower beds unless you are using LED mini lights that have a molded light. These are less likely to have issues with water getting into them than regular incandescent or replaceable LED mini lights will.
- Try a different type of light! C7 and C9 light socket sets are a lot more reliable and less likely to trip or pop breakers when the sockets get wet than mini lights. We've even tested spraying a hose directly on the lights and not had problems. The sockets are made to let water out quickly and they are not enclosed so they are a great choice when lining flower beds, walkways, and more close to the ground.
- Use Christmas light stakes when possible to keep lights off the ground. They are easy to use and come in a variety of sizes and styles. Our favorite for year round use is the Universal light clip stake. It is shorter than the All-In-One Stakes but they are more durable for year round use.
Good luck in your quest to out wit the dreaded GFCI outlets! And always feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. We've most likely dealt with the problem in our own decorating business and can help you work through it with a safe and aesthetically pleasing outcome so you can enjoy your Christmas lights year round if you .