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A towering pine festooned with lights can transform your home into a magical place. Starts with the tree. Purchase the largest conifer you can afford and that your property can handle as the tree grows. Plant it where your neighbors can enjoy it, but where you can live with it, too, for years to come.
Say good-bye to dragging out long, inefficient electric cords every year to power your lighting. Instead, a permanent outside display calls for permanent electric service. If an outside power outlet is near the tree, all the better. If not, a certified electrician can install the necessary wiring and outlet. You will need a weather-sealed, ground fault circuit interrupter outlet made for outdoor use.
Whether stringing lights on trees, along gutters, or on the roof, there are plastic clips to hold strands in place. Found at many holiday specialty stores and hardware stores, the clips provide quick anchorage. There are clips made for attachment to gutters, shingles, roof tile, trees, and even brick. If you prefer a permanent solution, metal cup hooks can be screwed into wooden eaves. Purchase stainless-steel hooks, which won't corrode and disintegrate.
Because your work is elevated, plan to invest in a quality ladder. If you are working on a tree, you'll need a large step-ladder with four legs on the ground for stability. For lights attached to a house, you'll probably need an extension ladder. When selecting the best ladder for your work, pay attention the equipment's weight limits. When working from the ladder, it's best to stand no higher than about midladder for stability. Also, it's much safer to work with a partner holding ladder positioned correctly and keeping watch for any instability.
There are other things to consider when decorating your home's exterior, including:
-- Never attach lights with nails. You can damage the plastic sheathing, which will expose the wire.
-- Because outside lights are exposed to water, use electrical tape to wrap connections when two or more light strands are being used.
-- Purchase only lighting stamped with the UL label of the Underwriters Laboratory.
-- Purchasing brand names is particularly important with LED lighting. The quality of inexpensive, imported off-brand LEDs may be poor.
-- Avoid overloading electric circuits. If you are planning a mega-display, call in an electrician to gauge the load on your home's power system.