Outdoor christmas lights

Since you all helped so much with the garbage disposal, I figured I'd run one more question by you and shorten my honey-do list.
I have several strings of Outdoor/Indoor holiday lights. They say they are safe to plug in outdoors, but I'm concerned about the rain.
I was thinking of wrapping each of the power connectors in duct tape, to help seal out moisture. Is this a good idea or totally unecceassry?
Thanks, Drew
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Since you all helped so much with the garbage disposal, I figured I'd run one more question by you and shorten my honey-do list.
I have several strings of Outdoor/Indoor holiday lights. They say they are safe to plug in outdoors, but I'm concerned about the rain.
I was thinking of wrapping each of the power connectors in duct tape, to help seal out moisture. Is this a good idea or totally unecceassry? BY connectors I mean the areas where they plug into each other, not the wall.
Thanks, Drew
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I'd go so far as to say it's a bad idea. My preference is to let the connectors drain and remain relatively dry. Water will get inside the taped joints and be more of a problem. Rain water is not a very good conductor anyway.
Boden
Drew Dawg wrote:

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Since you all helped so much with the garbage disposal, I figured I'd run one more question by you and shorten my honey-do list.
I have several strings of Outdoor/Indoor holiday lights. They say they are safe to plug in outdoors, but I'm concerned about the rain.
I was thinking of wrapping each of the power connectors in duct tape, to help seal out moisture. Is this a good idea or totally uneccessary? By connectors I mean where two strings of lights meet, not where they meet the wall.
Thanks, Drew
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Drew Dawg
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I'm not an electrician, but duct tape is not waterproof, and I doubt if any taping is necessary. Further, that kind of tape is the devil to get off. If you use anything at all, you might try a single wrap of taut plastic electrical tape, which removes easier, and is waterproof, if stretched tightly.

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I and many others have put christmas lights out year after year and never had any problems. They're rated and certified for outdoor use, and you could bet the farm that rain entry would be considered in those tests. The problem I have had on occassion is the wind pulling the connections apart in the trees. These connections I electrical tape to keep them together, and I keep the strings as loosely hung as possible.
If you look carefully at the bulbs (expecially the big ones) you'll see that there is a gap between the plastic socket and the bulb, water does get in here but never seems to cause enough of a short to cause problems.
Always ensure christmas lights are on a GFCI outlet however, especially if you're attaching them to a metal downspout or other metal item.
-- Steve
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On Sun, 30 Nov 2003 15:32:38 -0500, Drew Dawg

Yesterday I used storage bags and two twist ties spaced 2" apart. Then fastened the bag to a shrub branch twig, bag opening points down. I've done it that way for over 40 years with no problems. Keeping connections dry is important to prevent corrosion and shorts.
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There's no need to wrap the connections. Water from rain or melting snow is not really a conductor of electricity. In each and every socket water enters, and there's just as much power inside a socket as there is between connectors. These things are UL rated for outdoor use.
Even with the mini lights, you can actually see the wire connectors from the back of the socket. No attempt is made to waterproof these, yet they're UL listed as well.
If you're going to attempt anything, duct tape probably won't last. Maybe a couple wraps of electrical tape (You can get it in green too) around the connectors just to keep them together. I wouldn't go the plastic wrap route, as I've seen them filled with water and subsequently, Ice.
In areas where I have 2-3 strings plugged into a cord, I prop the thing off the ground on a bambo plant stake, and place a glass jar over the connections to form a "roof."
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Thanks for the info. As far as the GFCI outlets, those are the outlets with the reset buttons, right? My outdoor outlets don't have 'em, I only have that type in my bathroom and kitchen. Do you think the normal outlets are safe or unsafe to use?
Drew
Drew Dawg wrote:

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Drew Dawg wrote:

The whole point to using GFCI outlets outside, in the garage, and in wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens is safety. At the slightest hint of a problem, they will trip. If you find you really do not have them outside, you might want to consider installing them, but read on first...
How old is your house? They've been using them outdoors for the last 15 to 20 years. Perhaps they are protected somewhere else? Since the GFCI outlets are expensive, compared to a regular outlet, electricians will usually install one GFCI outlet and then several regular outlets downstream. Most of the time they put a little GFCI protected label on the downstream ones, but over time those can be lost. Two places to check are the garage and you breaker panel. If you find a GFCI outlet in the garage, trip it and see if it kills power to your outside outlets. You might also find that one of your breakers is GFCI protected, perhaps controlling outside outlets and more.
One more note, if your house is older you might also have those flat covers over your outside outlets which only protect the outlet when nothing is plugged in. If this is the case, you might also consider replacing these with a weatherproof cover, which protect them even when you have something plugged in, it's cheap protection.
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Here's my take on GFCI outlets for Christmas lights. If you have lots of mini lights outside and you get rain, not "dry" snow, they will trip. The small leakage to ground, tree trunks, etc. of each light will all add up and cause enough leakage to cause the GFCI to trip. I have had this happen many times. There is no specific problem. You just have to unplug some of the lights .... any of the lights. So, you might consider dividing the light strings over several different GFCIs.
C G wrote:

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In my house the GFI outlet in my guest bathroom is on the same circuit as the outside outlets.

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Hmmmm, maybe I should check and see if mine are the same way!
Drew ---------
Rick wrote:

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Totally unnecessary to wrap with anything. Pat
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