What To Do With Excess String Lights?

String lights are perfect when decorating barns, restaurants, wedding venues, cafes, terraces, and backyards. Outdoor luminaires can maintain brightness even in harsh weather conditions. They are available in a variety of colors, sizes, and lengths.

For those looking to upgrade from simple fairy lights, there are models with added features like color-changing lights, dimming options, remote control, and app operation. Further, string fairy lights are available in both LED and incandescent options, so you can choose ones that fit your needs best.

However, after installation, that’s when most homeowners notice they have too many excess string lights. Excess string lights can be bulky and add lighting to unflattering areas but, there are ways to cut and conceal unwanted string lights.

Can you Shorten String Lights?

Yes, it is possible to cut string lights to the desired length, but you cannot plug them in until you are sure they have been cut and repaired. Due to their non-customizable nature, they are not supplied with plugs connectors, nor contain copper points like strip lights.

So there are no specific places where you have to cut the lights. Therefore, it depends on the length of the area where you want it to hang. Make sure the string lights are unplugged before you try to change the length. If this precaution is not taken seriously, there is a risk of electrocution. Also, if you decide to do this project yourself, it is at your own risk because anything involving electricity can be very dangerous.

How To Cut LED or Incandescent String Lights?

First, check to see if your lights are wired in series or parallel, which you can check by removing the bulbs. Most large C9 bulbs are wired in parallel. While mini LED and incandescent bulbs have several sections wired in series that are wired in parallel. So if one bulb is removed, a section of lights wired in series will all turn off.

There are two wires at each side of the series, section; these two wires connect multiple series sections in parallel. The easiest way to shorten lights that uses series is to cut where there are only two wires. Once cut, the ends need stripping to expose a little of the wires. Then, twist and capped with a wire nut for additional protection.

Large incandescent c9 bulbs are wired in parallel, and each bulb is rated for the entire 120 volts that come out of the wall plugs. This means that you can cut the unplug light strands between any two bulbs. Just remember, after cutting, add a wire cap or electrical tape to each side.

Only Cut Light Strings That Were Made To Cut

Not all strings lights can be cut or shortened. You should connect outdoor light ribbons with male and female ends that have plugs end-to-end. Shortening these strings can override the safety assessment and cause the string to stop working.

Commercial strands and coils of Christmas lights are supplied with sockets and can be cut if required. Custom Christmas Lights Sets use loose wire. Make sure that the type of wire of the socket end of the plug matches. The SPT-1 wire will have a thinner sheath, while the SPP-2 wire will have a thicker sheath to handle higher currents.

You are free to choose where the wire ends of the plugs and sockets go. At a marked crossing point, a glowing LED cable light coil is cut, marked with a white dashed line. Rope light sets, on the other hand, have a predetermined length and no cut markings. Cutting a rope light set will no longer work because there is no way to fix it. It also leads to the failure of the light.

Why Does Only Half A String Of LED Lights Work?

image of string lighs cut

If half of your string lights are not working, then they are connected in series, a common design with cheaper and older bulbs. If one bulb in that series is loose or broken, the entire loop will fail. One solution is to examine all the bulbs in the failed sections to see which one or more are defective.

Once you have found the broken bulb, swap out for a new one, and the section will light up again. There are replacement bulbs included in the package so keep those safe. If not, you can find them at your local hardware stores, Amazon, or eBay, just to name a few. This process is very tedious, so if you have the cash, purchase new string lights.

Are Outdoor String Lights Safe?

Outdoor string lights are weatherproof but not infallible. You should make sure that the regular light bulbs are suitable for wet weather and are the same decorative lighting you want to buy. Using outdoor lights for indoor decorations is common and safe, but there are precautions to take when using indoor lights to decorate outdoor decorations.

Look for the IP (Ingress Protection Rating) of the light that tells you how well your outdoor lights are protected against dirt and moisture. Before attaching lights to a cord, use the safety assessment to check whether it is safe for outdoor use.

Plus, LEDs string lights are cool to handle and reduce the risk of fire hazards from the outset, unlike incandescent bulbs, which burn hot and pose a fire risk. Although LEDs are more expensive to purchase than conventional incandescent bulbs and lamps, they cost less to operate, making them an affordable and energy-efficient option.

To Recap,

Excess strings lights look bulky and messy, but they can easily be cut off and covered with a wire cap or electrical tape. Note that parallel-wired string lights can be cut anywhere between the bulbs without damaging them. The safest way to shorten series wired string lights is to cut where there are two wires.

Once your lights are rated for outdoor use, then they are safe to use and can withstand the elements. Similarly, led lights produce less heat and are energy efficient. If one side of your LED string lights is working; then it is series and means that one or more of the bulbs are no longer working. Try looking for the damaged bulbs and replace them, or if you want a simpler solution, just buy new bulbs.

I am a wife and mom with two kids. I am also a writer, avid DIYer, and tech enthusiast. My favorite things are writing, shopping online for gadgets, and gizmos I can’t afford (yet). Being at home with my kids is the best part of my day!

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