Hewitts Information and Tip Sheets by Peter Bowden

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Christmas Mini Lights

Mini Lights

Miniature lights MUST be used on ALL artificial trees.  The main reason for this is safety.  While all modern artificial trees are flame resistant, there is still cause for concern.  The glass surface of large, screw-in lights (c-7, c-9) can get hot enough to melt and disfigure the needles of the tree.  The smaller wires of miniature lights are easier to work with and conceal.  You also get more bulbs per watt with miniature lights.  This means more points of light to spread over the tree for that magical holiday mood.  The first question people ask when shopping for lights is “If one bulb burns out will the rest of the bulbs stay lit?”  The answer is YES.   Years ago, mini-lights manufacturers solved this problem by adding a bypass circuit below the filament in each bulb.  This means that when the bulb burns out the electricity can continue along to keep the rest of the strand lit.  If the burnt out bulb is removed, the rest of the strand will go out because the circuit has been broken.   Most times when a light set won’t work, it is due to one of the bulbs being loose in its socket.  To help overcome this problem, light manufacturers have begun to add retainers or “bulb locks” to keep the bulbs from working loose.

            Our experience has been that light set of 50 to 100 bulbs are best.  Anything smaller will require added numbers of sets to light the tree with more extension cords.  Anything larger is cumbersome and difficult to work with.  Look for quality.  Look for the Underwriters Laboratories {U.L.} approval.  This means that the light set has been tested and found safe.  Look for a guarantee.  This is a good indication of the makers’ confidence in the set.  Test the lights before buying them.  Save your receipts.  Before you remove the lights from their packaging, plug them in.  Often a bulb can be pulled loose while you are pulling them free.  Leave the set on when lighting the tree.  If the set goes out, it is usually a loose bulb in a socket you have just placed on the tree. 

 

2.5 volt

50 light set

3.5 volt

35 light set

6.0 volt

20 light set

12 volt

10 light set

REPLACING A BULB is easy.  But first be sure you are using the right replace-ment bulb.  Mini light bulbs all look the same, BUT THEY ARE NOT.  Check the original box for the correct voltage.  If the box is not available, count the bulbs on the set and divide into 120v.  This will give you the voltage of the proper replacement bulb.  For example, a 10 light set needs a 12v bulb.  A 50 light set needs a 2.5-volt bulb and so on.  As with most rules, there are exceptions.  A 100 light may be made up of two 50 light sets or five sets of 20 lights.  With this in mind, we advise saving the box or writing the voltage on a bit of masking tape and attaching this to the set.  Remember to save the bulb base.  Usually replacement bulbs are sold WITHOUT a base.  You want to avoid being in the position of having to buy a new set simply because you can’t repair the one you have. 

            When replacing a bulb or working on a non-functioning set, NEVER TWIST THE BULB.  Miniature lights are ALL push-pull assembly.  Twisting the bulb will cause more problems.  You may short out the bulb or blow a fuse.  NEVER TWIST THE BULB.  Pull the bulb and base from the socket.  If the bulb needs to be replaced, straighten the wires at the bottom of the bulb base.  Pull the bulb up and out of the base.  Next, install the new bulb into the old base.  Be sure that the two copper wires are separate and only one goes through each of the holes in the base.  Bend the wires up on either side of the base.  Make sure you bend the wires up the side of the base that will contact the copper plates in the socket.  Replace the bulb and base into the socket.

TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS:

Beyond bulb replacement, there are a few troubleshooting procedures that should be attempted.  You may find that you have a light set that has replaceable fuses in the plug.  Be sure you have the proper fuse before replacing.  If you find you have a set that has loose, broken or frayed wires, discard the set.  If you salvage the bulbs for use in other sets, place then in an envelope with the voltage noted on the envelope.  If you are unsure of the voltage of any spare bulbs you have, discard them.  They can cause damage if placed in a set of a different voltage.  NEVER attempt to re-wire or shorten a light set by cutting the wires or removing sockets.

 

 

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