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How To Use Extension Cords For Outside Christmas Lights?

With Christmas right around the corner, everyone thinks of unique ways to decorate their homes. Christmas lights are a great way to decorate your home and make it shine in the dark. Twinkling and bright lights hanging from the tree tops, vibrant colored lights hugging the bushes in your yard, and some other lit-up figurines standing tall, are a vision to cherish.

You will probably need multiple extension cords to make this vision come to life. It is crucial that you maintain a certain level of safety while installing these lights to avoid a mishap. Before you immerse yourself into setting up the lights, you can check out a few useful tips here for safely using extension cords for outside Christmas lights.

Methods For Linking Outdoor Christmas Lights Using Extension Cords

You can follow the tips below if you plan to install extension cords for outside Christmas string lights safely, without any electrical hazards.

1. Run the Cord Through Path Walk

An extension cord with multiple outlets will be the best option if you have used lights and bulbs in bushes and trees. You can run the extension cord through the path walk. You can use small plants in pots to hide this extension cord so that nobody trips on it.

It is recommended to use a waterproof extension cord and a weatherproof box for covering the cord connections to avoid electrical hazards due to water.

2. Run the Cord Along Downspout

If you want to install lights on your roof sides and gutter, you must hang the extension cord. However, this would make your house look less appealing and make the cords unsafe. In such a situation, you can use the downspout at the outdoor wall’s corners. Follow the steps below to run your extension cord along the downspout. Before you start with the steps below, you must ensure that you have a cord clip to organize the cords and a ceiling hook for holding the cord’s female end.

  1. Install the ceiling hook near the plug of your lights. This will help with holding the heavy outdoor extension cords.
  2. Fix the one cord clip at the top and one cord clip at the bottom of the downspout
  3. You can use another cord clip in the middle to make the extension cord more steady.
  4. You can even use cord straps, hooks, or cable ties if you do not have cord clips.
  5. Once the cord clips and hooks are installed, you can place your extension cords in them.
  6. After that, plug the cord into a power source and check whether your lights work.

Tips For Using Extension Cords For Christmas Lights

If you want to safely install the Christmas lights using extension cords, you can check out a few safety tips given below.

1. Length of the Cord

The length of the extension cords vary from 6-80 ft. The shorter the extension cord, the better. This is because, with lengthy cords, the electrical power gets lost due to resistance.

2. Make a Plan

Before purchasing electrical cords and installing them, make a plan. Use your home measurements to determine how many lights you need and where you plan to install them. Do not forget to include these locations: windows, shrubs, doors, rooflines, and walkways.

3. Use GFCI

When chalking out a plan to install the lights, locate all the available outlets. Once you have located the outlets, ensure that these are GFCI-rated. If you do not have a GFCI plug, you can ask an electrician to install one.

4. Use Surge Protectors

Your electrical cords must be plugged to an outdoor surge protector. This is especially important if you plan to include LED lights in your decoration. You need to follow this point seriously in case a geothermal or hydroelectric power generation is nearby.

5. Choose Outdoor-Rated Extension Cords

The extension cords you use should be outdoor-rated and you can choose one in a color which matches the winter outdoors. Keep your cord plugs away from snow, rain, or other adverse weather conditions.

6. Start With the Male Plug-End

When you wrap columns and trees with multiple string lights, use the male plug end at the base. Once you are done wrapping up the column, use the female plug end at the end. Once done, you can add the next string light by plugging it in and continue the same way for the rest.

When you install the string lights on trees, avoid using staple guns as they can puncture the lights. If you want to wrap a limb, make the spiral a long one since you would have to spiral the string light down the limb to keep the cords in your tree’s core.

7. Obey Connectivity Guidelines

Use only that many string lights in a single run as specified by the connectivity guidelines. For most of the string light models, you can run not more than 5 light strings of 100 strands and not more than 10 strings of 50 strands.

Organize your light string runs with the help of a splitter, and try not to exceed 80% of your home’s maximum capacity of breaker. If you plan to run more than 100 ft of string lights using a single plug or a series circuit, it is best to go for LED Christmas string lights.

Always turn off all the lights before you go to bed every night.

8. Avoid Daisy Chaining

Try not to daisy chain the extension cords. Daisy chain refers to plugging one extension cord into the other. You must avoid doing this as it can lead to overheating and, eventually, a fire.

Best Extension Cords For Christmas Lights

If you want to minimize the safety risks while using extension cords for your Christmas lights, the above tips can help you out. However, these tips won’t be useful if you use a low-quality extension cord. If you are wondering which extension cord to invest in to light up your home during the Christmas season, you can check out our top picks below.

1. AmazonBasics 50-Foot Extension Cord

This is a 13A, 16 AWG, 125 VAC, 1625 W extension cord. This 3-prong cord can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications. The copper wire construction of this cord is coated with vinyl, making it resistant to abrasion, sunlight, and moisture. Apart from using them for Christmas string lights, you can also use them for running your snow removal device.

2. Otimo 25 Foot Extension Cord

Mainly designed for outdoor use, this extension cord can also be used indoors. It is a 16 AWG cord, meaning it is not a heavy-duty cord. However, it can surely satisfy the electrical requirements for Christmas string lights. This cord is resistant to abrasion, flame, and water, which is why it is perfect for outdoor use. It has a rating of 10 A, 1250 W, and 125 V.

3. Copper Peak Extension Cord

This reliable extension cord comes with an overload breaker switch and 3-prong outlets. It has the feature of a 180-degree swivel which makes this cord fairly easy to mount and use. Since it has a heavy-duty construction, it can easily provide for the electrical demands of the Christmas string lights.

Extension Cords For Outside Christmas Lights – FAQs

1. How do you know what gauge or thickness of the extension cord for outdoor lights?

Ans:  The gauge or thickness of the extension cord depends entirely on the distance and wattage. For this, you need to check the guidelines the manufacturer gave for the lights. Generally, heavier gauge cords are best suited for longer distances and higher wattages.

2. How to prevent tripping hazards with outdoor extension cords?

Ans: To prevent tripping hazards with outdoor extension cords, you must secure the cords placed along walkways or pathways using stakes or clips. Wherever necessary, try using cord covers. Also, completely refrain from keeping the cords in high-traffic areas.

3. How to prevent electrical overloads when connecting multiple extension cords for outdoor lights?

Ans: To prevent electrical overloads in such a situation, daisy-chaining the cords needs to be avoided. Instead, you can use one heavy-duty cord to take the load of multiple string lights. You can try using a power strip with added safety and overload protection.

4. Is it safe to use extension cords in snow or icy conditions?

Ans: Although the extension cords meant for outdoor use are snow and ice-resistant, it is still wise to avoid exposing them to adverse cold weather for a prolonged duration. For added protection, you can use insulated cord protectors or weatherproof covers.

5. What to do if an extension cord gets wet?

Ans: If your extension cord has gotten wet, unplug it as soon as possible and dry it thoroughly before using it again. You should never use a wet extension cord as it can lead to electrical shock or damage the electrical system or the string lights.


It is not a very tricky job to set up electrical cords for string lights for your home outdoors during the Christmas season. You just need to ensure that you follow all the safety precautions. After all, there is always a safety risk wherever electricity is involved. To avoid unwanted accidents, you can follow the safety measures mentioned above while using the electrical cords for your Christmas lights.

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