– Ben Martens


Fixing Christmas Lights

When I finally decided on Christmas lights last fall, I decided to go with the professional grade wires, sockets and bulbs so that I could have the bulbs be interchangeable. That worked well and allowed me to do alternating red and soft-white C9 bulbs. It looked great except for one bulb that didn’t work. Testing it with the multimeter showed that the socket itself was bad. With a normal set of lights, I’d either have to live with it or pay another ~$40 for another 100ft strand of wire with sockets. But what I bought was repairable! (Pro tip: put some tape on your strand to mark both ends and any of the dead sockets. It’s a lot easier to find them when you have it all balled up on your workbench.)repairinglights2I ordered replacement sockets from Amazon. They come in pretty big quantities, but oh well, this will last me forever and I could use them to create my own custom strands if I wanted to. Make sure that you look to see if your light strand is SPT1 or SPT2. That notation specifies how thick the insulation is on the wire.

Doing the replacement is pretty straightforward except that getting the old socket off was tricky. I ended up just cutting and prying away on the old socket until it broke apart. Then I lined up the new socket and clamped it on. As usual, YouTube has a video to explain it.repairinglights1While I was doing all this, I figured I might as well make my strand be exactly the correct length. You can just clip the strand wherever you want and have it keep working, but be sure to clip the two wires at different lengths and then wrap them individually to make sure they don’t short out. Or you can add a new female plug to one end and a male plug to the other and bam, you now have two strings. I chose to add the new plugs. You can buy the male and female plugs on Amazon and learn how to properly install them via YouTube.

Sure this is a lot of trouble to go through for Christmas lights, but you know by now that I like things to work properly. This also makes me feel a LOT better about spending extra money on the professional grade lights. Every individual piece of this setup is replaceable. Whether sockets, plugs, bulbs, or even the wires go bad, I can replace just what’s needed. The worst (most expensive) thing that could happen would be if all of the LED bulbs broke but I’m storing them in a hard plastic container to help protect against that. Next year? MORE LIGHTS!