Christmas is a widely loved holiday for many reasons, one of the biggest reasons for this is the atmosphere that accompanies the holiday.
In my opinion, the biggest contributing factor to the atmosphere is the Christmas lights which always bring a warm and cozy appearance in the cold winter months.
In most countries, it’s a common custom to start decorating your homes with holiday decor anywhere from mid-November to early December and to have it all back down by the end of January, although this totally depends on individual preferences or convenience.
This said, are there any reasons why Christmas lights can’t stay up all year round?
Even though it may be seen as tacky or lazy by some people, there is no real reason why Christmas lights can’t be hung outdoors all year round. As long as the lights aren’t placed in a dangerous manner or a fire hazard in the summer they can absolutely be out all year round.
Is Leaving Christmas Lights Out All Year Safe?
Generally speaking, it is relatively safe to keep your lights outside all year round as long as their condition is monitored. That said, there are things to consider before doing this to ensure that you are doing this in a safe manner.
The main aspect to discuss about whether or not Christmas Lights can stay up all year is simply the safety of it. All lights are electrical loads, meaning they are definitely able to become a fire hazard in the wrong situations.
Firstly, we should discuss the main two types of lights used for holiday lighting as they have quite different properties in terms of being hazards. These two types of lights are:
LEDs and Incandescent lights are fundamentally different in how they generate light, which is why they also have different properties in terms of safety.
Possible Fire Hazards Of Leaving Holiday Lights Outside
The first and most important factor to discuss is if there is a chance anything might catch fire from these lights.
LEDs are generally not very likely to start a fire in any capacity. This is because LEDs are very cool light sources compared to any other common lighting technology.
An LED bulb will normally only reach temperatures around 20-80 °C (68-140°F). But this number is pulled from actual bulbs, the small LEDs from smaller dainty holiday lights will almost never reach temperatures above 40°C (104°F) during normal use.
Incandescent lights however are a different story. The small light-generating filament inside these bulbs can reach temperatures of 2500 °C (4600 °F). The actual bulb will be significantly cooler than that but still has the ability to reach temperatures around 200 °C (392 °F).
These temperatures can absolutely cause a fire in the wrong situations. Picture an active incandescent bulb outside in a dry summer where a dry leaf might blow onto it. That is certainly able to start a fire, which in the worst case could burn down your home.
You can obviously just have them turned off in the daytime, but the risk is still present.
To summarize this point; LEDs are generally safe to have outside all year round whereas it is not recommended to leave unshielded incandescent lights outside since they can get quite hot.
Make Sure Your Holiday Lights Are Waterproof
Another aspect to consider regarding leaving lights out all year is that they absolutely need to be waterproof for them to be safely left out all year.
Most lights made for outdoor decor are normally protected from most water, so assuming the lights you want to put outside are made for being outside and in good condition you should be assured that they won’t let water leak in.
That said, what happens if water does leak? The main issue with this will be twofold, one is that the bulb may break or otherwise stop working.
Electrical loads generally are not compatible with water in the slightest as it causes its internal components to short circuit. This same short circuit will also trip the breaker, which is the second part of this issue.
If you end up with a bulb like this it will constantly trip the breaker every time you try to turn the bulb on. This by itself isn’t a danger unless the breaker isn’t broken of course. A short circuit that allows electricity to flow through it can become a fire hazard as the temperatures will keep increasing as the circuit gets fried.
This point is also a reason why LEDs are preferable over incandescent bulbs. LEDs are much more resistant to weather changes, which causes them to last longer in the different conditions that a full year comes with.
Other Stress Factors That May Affect Your Lights
While fire and water safety are the most prevalent factors for keeping lights outside there are other things that may come into play. An example of this would be rodents or other animals biting on the wires of the lights.
If an animal bites the insulating plastic and exposes the copper wire there are several things that may happen as a consequence of this. Firstly, and possibly the most obvious one, if they bite it enough it might snap completely, rendering the lights useless as the circuit is now broken.
Another thing that may happen as a result of this is water leaking into the circuit, which again will cause it to short circuit.
These are things which are hard to impossible to account for but are good to have in mind if you want the full picture of what these lights would have to go through when being outside all year round.
Why Are Christmas Lights Not Normally Out All Year Round?
Since we have now established that you can absolutely leave these lights outside assuming that their condition is being monitored, how come it isn’t very common for people to leave them out for longer than January?
The main reason for this is that these lights are widely seen as season-festive lights only. Therefore, it’s most common to take them down by the time February comes around.
But in reality, there is no real reason as to why these lights have to be limited to the holidays. As long as they are looked after properly you can definitely have them out all year around.
The main reason why having holiday lights out all year round isn’t standard practice is that they are associated with the winter holidays only, but there is nothing stopping you from having them out all year if you are able to make sure they don’t become dangerous with the changing weather.
So if you are a person with a festive personality, by all means, have your lights out all year around. While this may catch some confused looks from neighbours there is nothing stopping you!
Just make sure that you only do this with LEDs since they are much better suited for this than incandescent lights, also make sure they are in good condition so as to not create any unnecessary dangers.
Hello, I'm Daniel, the author behind this article and owner of this website!
I'm a young soul at 23 years old with a passion for everything lighting since I find it very fascinating in general.
I studied light planning for 2 years in Stockholm, Sweden and now work with light planning full time.