Why Christmas Lights Make the Outlet Trip Off
Why do my Christmas lights keep tripping the outlet outside of my house? Common Problems that Cause Christmas Lights to Turn Off.
Outdoor Christmas Lights
Electrical Question: Why do my Christmas lights keep tripping the outlet outside of my house?
- I have my Christmas lights plugged into an outlet outside of my house.
- The lights stay on for a few hours and then go out.
- To turn the outlet back on I press the reset button on a GFCI outlet that is in my garage GFCI.
- This makes the outside outlet work again, but then the lights keep keep going out.
This electrical wiring question came from Evelyn, in Land o Lakes, Florida.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Evelyn.
How to Troubleshoot Outdoor Christmas Light Problems
Common Problems that Cause Christmas Lights to Turn Off
Background: Outdoor outlets are required to have GFCI protection, and as with this question, the outside outlets are protected by a GFCI outlet which is located in the garage. When the GFCI outlet continues to trip off this will indicate that there is a problem that needs to be identified. The following will help you identify the most common problems with outdoor Christmas lights.
- Problem with the Outdoor Receptacle Outlet Cover
- Outdoor outlets must have a cover that is considered weatherproof when a cord is plugged in. This is made possible by installing a bubble type cover that will allow a cord to enter through an opening in the bottom of the cover while the cover is closed and covering the outlet.
- Bubble covers are considered to provide in-use protection for outlets while a cord is plugged in which will prevent moisture from causing the GFCI from tripping off.
- Christmas Light Problems
- Cracked or worn out wiring of the light strand may cause a voltage leakage which can lead to a ground fault.
- Installing Christmas lights using bare metal staples or nails can damage the wiring. Consider using insulated fasteners to secure the lights in place.
- Make sure the Christmas light strands are rated for outdoor use.
- Moisture from Ice, Snow, and Rain
- Christmas lights that are installed on the home are best located under the eves or areas where the roof overhangs to provide protection from weather elements.
- If the GFCI outlet trips off after the lights have been on for a while, this may indicated that the heat of the lights is causing snow or ice to melt and create moisture which can cause the GFCI to trip off.
Additional resources about GFCI Outlets and Christmas Lights
- GFCI Code Requirements
- This article explains the basics of the electrical code requirements for GFI Protection as part of the home electrical wiring system.
More about GFCI Code Requirements
- GFCI Circuits and Outlets
- This article about GFCI outlets for home electrical use will provide a more in depth understanding about gfi protection and provides wiring examples.
More about GFCI Circuits and Outlets
- Hanging Christmas Lights
- Dave gives some tips about how to install Christmas lights and holiday decorations.
More about Hanging Christmas Lights
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
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This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester, [amazon.com], I use for the detection of Standard Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
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