Don’t Let Halloween Lights Cause a Power Outage! [3 Wicked Tips]

Posted on October 16, 2018 by Oozle Media

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The residents of North Chariot Ave call the manor-like house at the top of the hill “the Witchery” as anyone who dared open the creaky gate into the front yard was sure to be met by sounds of cackling laughter and meows—so many that people thought Mrs. Charles, the widow who lived there, was hoarding a secret cat colony.

Her home appeared unkempt. There were spiders everywhere crawling on thick, massive cobwebs, but she didn’t seem to mind them. In fact, she even named them! The biggest of them all was Legion. It’d crawl right up to the walkway whenever anyone would try to get from the fence to the door.

One evening, a scrawny, blonde-haired boy decided to bravely visit Mrs. Charles. He opened the gate and started walking to the door—cautiously taking one step at a time and pausing after every few feet to look around.

“Almost there,” he muttered to himself once he got halfway.

All of the sudden, he heard a loud noise. Startled, he turned and there was Legion rushing toward him. The spider’s eight glaring yellow eyes paralyzed the boy with fear. Right as the spider was about to reach him, a whirring power surge noise could be heard coming from the house and then the light in its eyes went out as he collapsed on the ground.

There was silence and darkness. None of the spiders were crawling anymore. No cackling, meowing, or light coming from the house either—the power was out. The front door opened and there stood a flustered Mrs. Charles.

“My animatronics!” she cried. “And for this to happen on Halloween night! I’m going to have to call the electrician.”

Wouldn’t it be horrible to have the power go out right as a trick-or-treater was coming up to your door? Every year, people stock up on Halloween decorations that go beyond the traditional cobwebs and jack-o-lanterns. There are talking skeletons and other animatronics, inflatable monsters, blacklights, smoke machines, and festive lights. With so much electricity powering the spooky holiday spirit you’ve got to be careful or else the power might surge. If you’re planning on using any of your home’s power to give the neighborhood kids the creepy crawlies, take note of these three tips.

1. Know the Measurements of Power

a strand of lights
When plugging cords into outlets it’s very important that you know three things (and it might require a little bit of math on your part):

Your Circuit’s Amp Rating

calculation for amps

To understand how much of your circuit’s amperage your devices are using, divide the number of watts being used by the number of volts. This is the maximum amount of amperes that your circuit can carry. Household circuits normally carry 15-20 amps. Your circuit breaker should have the amperage marked on the handle. This information will help you know how many devices your circuit can handle and, therefore, avoid tripping the circuit.


Your Outlets’ Voltage

an equation to find the number of volts

This is the amount of power that can come from your outlets—the measurement is referred to as volts. Typically, an outlet can produce 120 volts. There are different types of voltage currents, but the most common types are Direct Current (DC) and Alternating Current (AC). To find out how many volts are coming out of an outlet to supply a device, divide the number of watts your device needs by your circuit’s amperage number.

How can voltage inputs and outputs cause outlets to feel hot?

Most decorative lights should have their voltage requirements on the label. If you’ve just taken your lights out of storage only to find that the label is missing and need to know the voltage requirements, you can divide the number of volts your outlet carries by the number of bulbs that are in the strand you’re plugging in. So let’s say you’re putting up a strand of Halloween lights with 100 bulbs. If you have a 120-volt outlet, you can use that calculation to learn that the voltage would be 1.2—the number of volts that each bulb uses. This calculation only gives an approximate voltage and is not necessarily exact.

Your Object’s Watt Needs

an equation to find the number of watts

A watt is a measurement of electricity. To know how many watts your circuit can handle you’ll need to do a little math: multiply the amperage by the number of volts that your outlets can produce.

To give you an example let’s suppose you live in a house with a 20-amp circuit and 120-volt outlets. By following the equation you can see that your circuit can only handle a maximum of 2,400 watts at one time. If you try to plug in too many things at once, you may exceed that maximum and cause an electrical blowout.

2. Don’t Overload Your Circuits

Halloween pumpkins and lights

Nobody wants their power to go out on Halloween night, especially if they’re aiming to have one of the most entertaining houses in the neighborhood. Overloading circuits is a mistake that anyone can easily make if they don’t know what their circuit’s amp rating is or how many watts their decorations need to operate—so make sure you know that information before you start plugging things in!

According to the National Electrical Code, you shouldn’t have more than 80% of your circuit’s amperage being used consistently. Otherwise, the temporary surge caused by the startup of appliances could overload your circuit and cause the power to go out.

If your circuit can handle a maximum of 2,400 watts you really shouldn’t use more than 1,920 at one time. If your home’s devices already use 1,400 watts, you’ll be left with 520 to use on Halloween lights and decorations.

3. Invest in Surge Processors

Halloween pumpkins projected on wall

Power strips are very useful when you have a bunch of lights and decorative gizmos to plug in. They may help your outlet’s power distribution, but they don’t necessarily protect your home from surges. However, that can be done by using a whole-house suppressor and an individual circuit surge processor.

The combination of the two devices will divert excess voltage to the ground wire. If your Halloween devices cause a surge, your home’s electrical system will be more likely to handle the effects without turning off the lights—keeping all of the little Vampirinas and Black Panthers coming to your door for a trick or treat.

It may sound like a lot of work and all that math might be the most haunting part of Halloween for you, but a good rule of thumb is to go for minimalism. Choose only one or two decorative items that need to be powered by electricity. If you’re going for a big effect and know you’ll need to use a lot of power, unplug the appliances inside the house that don’t need to be used on Halloween night to free up the circuit.

Don’t Forget, JP Electrical is Here for You!

After you’ve set up your home’s Halloween decorative display test it out to make sure that your circuit can handle all of the lights and other power-hungry features. If it’s all too overwhelming for your electrical system, you may run into some of these issues:

  • Part of your home’s electricity going out.
  • A circuit breaker that keeps tripping.
  • Flickering lights.
  • Faulty outlets.

If any of those problems occur, JP Electrical’s troubleshooting services can help. We’ll analyze the situation, find out what’s wrong, and make the necessary repairs or installations to get your electrical system working properly again and ready to take on the Halloween spirit. To schedule your free estimate and to learn more about these services call us today!

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