Christmas is all about friends, family, gifts, and Christmas trees. But nothing brings out the festivity season like decorating your outdoors with lights. However, what if you don’t have an outdoor power plug for your exterior Christmas decorations?
You can light your outdoor Christmas decorations without a plug. For instance, you can extend the existing indoor outlets through windows or convert porch lights in an outlet. Alternatively, you can use battery-powered lights, LED candles, solar panels, or Bluetooth outdoor lighting.
Christmas is an exciting time of the year, particularly when you decorate the outside of your home with Christmas lights. So, roll up your sleeves, keep your Christmas spirit, read on to find out what to do if you don’t have an outdoor power outlet!
How Can I Put Christmas Lights Outside Without an Outlet?
There are several methods to accomplishing lighting and even inflatables outdoors without having an exterior outlet installed on your home. I have this exact issue at my nearly 100 year old house. I will list for you the ways that I have done it and ways my neighbors tackle the issue.
If your neighborhood is like mine, filled with historic homes from a time when exterior power was not a consideration, then one of these ideas is bound to help you this coming Christmas.
Use The Existing Indoor Outlets
You can use the existing indoor outlet to power your outdoor lights. That could be outlets in the basement, living room, bathroom, or kitchen. You can pick an exterior extension cord to reach the chosen outlet (you should select an outlet close to a window). Extension cords can get expensive, so keeping them shorter is better.
Plug in the cord to the outlet, ensuring it is a GFI rated outlet or by using at a minimum a surge protecting extension between the outside extension cord and the outlet. Then, take the cable to the lights through the window.
There are several things that can help with doing this. I have done it without issue powering inflatables and lights around my yard. Here are some things to do to make it safe, cost effective, and able to keep your indoor temperature from being invaded by winter weather.
- Be sure to use a surge protector between your wall outlet and the extension cord going through your window to the outdoor lighting or inflatables. Some decry surge protector extension cords, but I use them and they are just fine.
- Surge protecting extension cords are normally only rated for indoor use and should not be used through a window. The are great on the other hand for making normal outlets safer and more accessible for this type of project on the interior.
- If you have a GFI outlet you are planning to use then a surge protector is not needed.
- Removing window screens completely is preferable to cutting any sort of hole in the screen material.
- Use pool noodles cut in half or quartered, weather stripping, or other flexible foam material to weatherproof the small open gap space created by raising the window to allow cord access.
- To secure the window from being raised from the outside, use tension controlled rods from the top of the window casing to the top of the window being raised. If you own your home, a simple screw in the left or right casing at the desired window height works great and is easily removed after the Christmas season.
- If multiple lights or inflatables are needed, inexpensive exterior multiplugs are on the market that work with standard 110 volt plugs that secure in flower beds or lawns with a simple yard spike. The one I recommend and use is the BESTTEN Weatherproof Outdoor 3 Outlet Power Strip Stake with 20-Foot Ultra Long Extension Cord found on Amazon.
This is how I power my inflatables and exterior lights on the front of my home each Christmas. Though this is not a permanent solution to exterior power around your home, it works perfectly during this festive season. I use it from Thanksgiving to Epiphany (end of November to the beginning of January).
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Porch Light To Plug Conversion For Outdoor Christmas Lights
Using a two prong or non-grounded porchlight adapter will not work for things like inflatables, but it will work for Christmas lights around the exterior of your home. This also comes with the added benefit of being able to simply turn your exterior lighting on or off with a simple flip of your porch light switch from inside.
These adapters easily screw into your light socket like a normal bulb. They act like a socket extension with the added benefit of having two (two prong) outlets, one on either side.
As you can see from the picture above, I simply took out a side glass panel from the light fixture and then could plug in my low voltage Christmas lights.
Here is what I used to accomplish all the lighting around my porch and along the sides of my house with Amazon links to help you find what you are looking for. All string lights were plugged into the porch light adapter.
- Here is the porch light socket to plug conversion adapter I use…
- For the globe string lights down the sides clipped onto the gutters I used these types of lights and clips.
- For around the porch I just used tiny nails and low voltage string lights like the 100-Count Clear Green Wire Christmas Lights Set Xmas Tree Lights
Window Candles Add A Subtle Touch
Candles in windows are some of the most elegant and understated lighting decorations for your home that can be see from both inside and outside. Since they are placed indoors and sit in windows, power sources are rarely a problem. Yet there are many options to make them even easier to use.
It may not be practical in modern times to use wax candles for Christmas lights like centuries ago. So, it is advisable to use LED candles or other low voltage types of lighting that can be powered batteries or cords.
We use the battery powered ones in our windows and have a small container of rechargeable batteries that we rotate into each. As long as we remember to turn them off when we go to sleep, they last a while and with the rechargeable batteries being rotated into the charger we can forego the multiple cord problem.
Solar-Powered Lights Are A Good Option
There are plenty of energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, solar-powered Christmas lights available on the market- from ropes, globes, small LEDs, icicles, and snowflakes. These lights usually have color settings and pattern flash modes.
You can even connect some to Bluetooth so they can shine and dance to the music you download from the app. Besides, when the weather is cloudy, some solar-powered lights can be powered with rechargeable batteries.
If you need more power or use the existing LED strands, you should choose portable power systems. They are reasonably priced and can entail solar generators or panels.
Bluetooth Outdoor Lighting
There are Christmas outdoor lightings powered by Bluetooth. They are weather-resistant and won’t give you electric shocks. So, they can brighten up your outdoors even when the weather is bad.
Moreover, Bluetooth lighting is very energy efficient and is rechargeable. Some even have sensors that make them turn on when someone is walking by. You control them using an app on your phone, and hence you don’t need to go outside to turn them on.
Install An Outdoor Power Source
Instead of running a cable outside your house, you can install an outdoor power outlet. This might be expensive (especially when employing a licensed electrician), but could be worth the investment if you want to light your outdoors up every holiday season.
It should also be noted that this can also help year round with other lawn care and outdoor uses.
Batteries Of All Types Can Power Christmas Lights
You can power your Christmas outdoor lights with external or even pre-installed batteries. There are even rechargeable battery powered packs with plugs built into them just for projects such as this.
Car batteries or lithium batteries can also light up your Christmas outdoor decorations. This may take a little more knowhow, but if you are experienced working with electricity or automobiles this could offer a solution.
Safety And Outdoor Christmas Lights Without a Plug
Though ‘safety’ is an overused word in our modern society, it does have its place. When dealing with electricity and the possibility of wet conditions outdoors there is a slight risk of shock and even fire.
Battery powered units will not have the same dire consequences as corded options plugged into outlets. Though, there could still be a risk of damaging the decorations themselves.
Let’s look at some safety issues related to lighting up the exterior of your home for Christmas without a power outlet outdoors.
- Use Exterior Rated Waterproof Cords: Waterproofed extension cords or as some call them ‘outdoor’ extension cords, are a must to keep your lights and inflatables from getting damaged. It also prevents overloading circuits due to wet conditions. Most know that water and electricity don’t mix.
- Properly Power Rated Extension Cords: Electricity moving over wires causes heat and eavy-duty cords have thicker wires and better insulation. The thicker wires and insulation ensures that the cord can tolerate high levels of voltage without heating up.
- Check The Voltage: The higher the voltage the greater the chance of heating and melting of cords. It is important to know how much you are asking your cords to carry and not exceed their stated limits. So, be careful about it and, if possible, use low-voltage Christmas decorations.
- Turn Off the Power Source: Before you start working, you should turn off the power source. This prevents the any damage to decorations and can avoid some nasty and painful shocks to yourself. Also, turn off the display lights when you aren’t home or before you go to bed. This will lower the chances of fire and keep the bills down. You can also selectively turn of some of your lighting while leaving others running.
- Be Careful Where You Place Cords: Don’t place your extension cords where they might be damaged or cause injury. For instance, don’t lay them across sidewalks or driveways (if you must, protect them with a cable ramp). Also, don’t close windows or doors on them without adequate spacing and flexible support as that could break the wires within the cord. Moreover, even though the cords are waterproof, avoid laying them on snow or water. Water can cause the cords to short and start a fire. So instead, you could use a safety cover to protect your cords from water and snow.
- Don’t Overload Outlets: It is important not to have too many cords or power drains on one circuit. This doesn’t mean simply one outlet since several outlets can still be on one circuit.
We all remember the scene from the Christmas classic “A Christmas Story” where the father was trying to plug in his ‘special award’ lamp into an extremely overloaded outlet. This is poking fun at something we have all done, but shouldn’t have.
Check your house breaker box and find the breaker for the outlet you want to use for the Christmas decorations. Take note of the appliances running on the circuit (anything that turns off when you turn off this circuit breaker). Add together the watts of these appliances and decorations you plan to connect to the outlet.
Use the formula Total Watts ÷Volts (indicated on the breaker) =Amps to ensure you don’t overload that circuit. If the circuit in the breaker box indicates it’s 15 amps, anything above 15 amps will overload it.
I usually use different circuits for different parts of my house to make sure it doesn’t become a problem. Once you get it down one year, you will know for the rest of the Christmases you spend in your house.
Wrapping Up Outdoor Christmas Lights With No Plug…
It can be an inconvenience not to have outdoor power sources when trying to decorate for several holidays. There are ways to get around it and things on the market that can help. I do it now, at least until I get around to adding an outdoor outlet. You can too.
Just follow some of the tips above and you will be lighting up the outdoors in no time. Here’s hoping your holiday, whatever the time of year it is, brightens your family’s experience and your neighborhood’s.
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