Nothing gives your home the proper holiday feel like a bunch of Christmas string lights. Christmas string lights are an essential decoration that gives your home, lawn, office, or wherever it is you choose to decorate, the complete holiday make-over.
Quite frankly, your Christmas decorations are incomplete without string lights. In fact, if there are no string lights, have you really decorated them at all?
But sometimes when stringing up your Christmas lights, you find that the string lights are too long for where you have chosen to hang them since dangling Christmas lights never give the effect you want.
The next option is to cut off the excess portion of the string lights. This may sound complicated but it is actually a simple process.
This post tells how to shorten LED string lights safely.
Tools You Will Need
- Wire cutters – To shorten your string lights.
- Wire thimble connectors/Twist-on wire connectors – To secure the end of your LED string lights (If your lights will be strung up outside then ensure you use a waterproof connector).
- Electrical tape – To insulate the wires (If your lights will be strung up outside then ensure you use waterproof electrical tape).
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Most string lights are connected in series but there are a few exceptions that are connected in parallel.
Just in case you don’t know the difference between string lights wired in series and string lights wired in parallel, there is a simple test you can follow to know which one you are working with.
Take out one bulb from anywhere in the middle of the string lights.
If the bulbs around that bulb go out as well, then the lights are wired in series but If the other bulbs still work after you have taken one out then they are wired in parallel.
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How to Shorten LED String Lights Wired in Series?
First, be sure to turn your string lights off before you do anything else. Do not work with live wires!
Only turn them on when you are sure the wires of your string light are completely covered.
For string light wired in series:
Step 1: Identify a series of lights
Replicate the test above that was used to determine how the string lights are wired.
Step 2: Find out the entire series section
But this time take note of where the series begins and ends because that is one series section and when cutting your string lights, cutting out an entire series section is usually the easiest and most ideal option.
String lights wired in series are connected to other lights within the series by 3 wires but this series connects to another series with 2 wires.
So you can tell if you have properly cut out a series section if you cut at a point where the lights are connected with only two wires.
Step 3: Cut out the series end
Once you have located the end of a series then, with the lights unplugged, cut the two wires with your wire cutters.
Step 3: Secure
Then cover the loose ends with wire connectors and finally use the electric tape to secure it in place and cover-up exposed wires.
And just like that, your string lights are shortened are ready to brighten up your home!
How to Shorten LED String Lights Wired in Parallel?
For string lights that are wired in parallel, they are designed in such a way that each bulb gets its own voltage and is not affected by other bulbs which means you can cut off as many bulbs as you want with no risk of overpowering or burning out the rest of the bulbs.
String lights connected in parallel give 120 volts to each bulb which is why the other bulbs remain unaffected.
To shorten string lights wired in parallel, just follow these steps:
- The first and most important step is to turn the lights off.
- Then you can cut the string lights from whatever length you want.
- And finally, cap the loose ends with wire connectors.
And voila! You have successfully shortened your string lights.
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How to Shorten 3 Wire LED Christmas Lights?
Sometimes, when working with string lights connected in series you might only want to take out a few bulbs instead of a whole series section.
And although this is possible, it is a lot more complicated than cutting off the entire series.
This is because Christmas lights that are connected in series have a voltage of 120 volts evenly distributed to each bulb and cutting too many bulbs creates the risk of overloading the rest of the lights in the series section.
For each light you remove, there is an increased voltage distributed to the remaining bulbs so removing one, two, or even three bulbs are okay but cutting off a lot of bulbs will overburden your string lights, the remaining bulbs will burn brighter and eventually burn out.
It may be difficult but it is not impossible, follow these steps to shorten 3 wire LED Christmas lights:
Step 1: Remember to only work with your string light when they are unplugged.
Step 2: Decide on how many bulbs you need to cut off to achieve the perfect length for your lights.
Step 3: Since your lights are wired in series you will be cutting at a point that has 3 wires.
Step 4: Locate the 2 wires that enter the last bulb in the series.
·Step 5: Cut the two wires and then strip away the ends of the wires using your wire cutters.
·Step 6: Twist the tips of the two wires together and cap the entwined wires with a wire connector and use electrical tape to secure them.
Step 7: For the third wire, cut it so that it is at the same length as the other wires.
Step 8: Cover this last wire with another wire connector and use electrical tape to fasten it in place.
And there you have it! Your Christmas string lights are now the perfect length you need them to be.
Also Read: How to Wire String Lights Together?
How to Fix Fairy Lights That Have Been Cut?
When your youngest kid gets a hold of the scissors and snaps off the nearest fairy lights she can get her little hands on, it may seem like the end of those lights but it’s not.
With just a little bit of work, your fairy lights can be as good as new.
Even if you accidentally cut one of the wires while you were trying to shorten your fairy lights, there is still hope of fixing it.
But that depends on where exactly you cut off.
Method 1: Strip the wire ends back
If the wire you cut off is the one directly connected to the plug.
Then all you have to do is strip the wire ends back so you can see the metal, twist the two ends of the wire together and connect the live (brown) wire to the live (brown) wire and the neutral (blue) wire to the neutral (blue) wire, using electrical tape.
Be sure that the electrical tape wraps firmly around the exposed metal from the wire.
Method 2: Use light keeper pro
Another way to fix your cut fairy lights is to use light keeper pro which helps you identify which bulb is faulty and from there you can take it out and repair it.
If your fairy lights are connected in series, then it might be best to cut out the entire series section and cap it with a wire connector.
But if your fairy lights are copper-wired, then all you have to do is burn the tips of the cut wire until they turn black and then twist these two ends together.
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Christmas string lights have a way of brightening up your home and your life.
They are the spark of Christmas and to the kids, they are what guide Santa and his presents to your home.
And now that you know how to shorten Christmas lights, you can now use them to create your desired decoration.