I've found that by watching the sales, I can usually get 100 count strands
of lights for around $2.50. I buy 2-4 boxes almost every year and don't
bother messing more than a few minutes if a strand won't light. It's just
not worth the hassle.
1) inspect the string for broken or cracked bulbs. Usually caused by
careless handling when putting them away. Replace as needed
2) check the fuses (located in the plug end) with a multi meter. Replace as
3) Locate the first unlit bulb in the bad section and replace it with a
known good bulb
4) if still unlit. take the bulb you just pulled out (bulb1) and put it in
the second unlit bulb slot.
5) if still unlit, take the bulb you just pulled out (bulb2) and put it in
the third unlit bulb slot.
6) repeat. working your way down the line. When the string lights, throw the
bulb in your hand away.
This will only work if there is only one failed bulb. All bets are off if
there are two or more failures
My experience is that most bad lights are caused from rough handling
(dropping on to the floor) and are usually restricted to broken bulbs. A
truely bad bulb will usually be restricted to one per chain. THere are
actually two filaments in each bulb. The light producing filament and a
shunt filament. If the light producing filament burns out, the shunt
filament will allow enough current to flow to light the other lights to
light but at reduced voltage. it is only when both filaments burnout that
the string dies.
IF still a no go, go to local home center and buy a bad bulb detector for
$3. get the type where you insert the bulb into a hole. It seems to work
better than the type where you just touch the bulb. I suggest this as a last
resort because they don't work too well but they have their place.
Just remember, the lights were working when you took them down (in April?).
THey don't go bad sitting in storage. THey failed because of rough handling
in the taking down phase. Treat them gently and you will have fewer problems
The lights are in a series. Sometimes two series to a string.
Lamps today have a shunt in them so they may go out and the rest of the
lamps stay on. That works only if the light burns out, as often as not they
don't burn out but they come loose and that will kill the rest of the
Note, often they include one clear lamp, usually near the plug. It acts
as a fuse and it will cause the rest of them to go out if it burns out.
I got so tired of messing with those series wired lights that I bought
all the old style lights with the 5 watt bulbs (or are they 7w, I
forget). They are the same bulbs used in night lights except colored.
Sometimes OLD is better !!!
All I do now is replace dead bulbs.
I learned all this from my now deceased father. I remember one
Christmas when these series lights got him so mad that he opened the
front door and threw all the lights and even the tree out the door
into the snow. Later he went and bought all new lights and brought
the tree back in, and started over. This eventually became a family
joke and we still laugh about the Christmas when that dad threw the
tree out the door..... Actually I miss those days now!
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