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How to protect outdoor lights from rain

Many people have some kind of electric lighting outside their homes. Whether it’s security lights, patio or sidewalk lanterns, porch lights, or even holiday lights like those used at Halloween or Christmas, most people want to ensure the safety of their families and their guests. After all, what happens when it rains? Could these outdoor lighting fixtures short out? Could electrical fires occur? Professional electricians install most permanent lighting fixtures, but what about temporary lights that you set up yourself?



What You Need

  • Lights rated for outdoor usage

The bottom line is that you want all of your lights, whether temporary or permanent, to remain safe, no matter what the weather is like outside. Read on to learn how to make everything secure.

Christmas Lights With Trees and Snow
Adiraan Greyling / Pexels

Think about location

Even though your lighting fixtures might be outside, it doesn’t mean they have to be completely exposed to all of the elements. One of the easiest ways to prevent rain from shorting out wires and keep your outdoor lights from sparking is to keep them close to the house and undercover. Neither the roof nor overhangs will protect your lights completely from rain, but they do provide a measure of protection.

Step 1: Ensure that your porch lights are located close to your front door, where the roof will somewhat protect them.

Step 2: Alternatively, place your lights under overhangs from the roof or windows, like awnings.

Make sure your lights are rated for the outdoors

Be smart about the kinds of lights you purchase for outdoor fixtures. A regular lightbulb might work just fine on your porch when there’s no rain or snow, but when moisture creeps in, you could run into trouble.

Remember that there are specific lights that are rated for the outdoors. Usually, these lights will have something like "suitable for wet locations," "weather resistant," or "weatherproof" written somewhere on their packaging. When purchasing outdoor lights, be smart and ensure the lights you buy are made for harsher weather conditions.

Holiday lights
Winston Chen / Unsplash

Only use outdoor-rated extension cords

Here’s the answer for those who want to know how to protect outdoor extension cords from rain: just as you should only use lightbulbs that are rated for outdoor use, you should do the same when it comes to extension cords. If you’re planning to run any kind of temporary lighting, you need to ensure that the extension cords you use can stand up to moisture.

Be aware of materials that can catch fire

Obviously, if your extension cord or Christmas lights short out and sparks fly, you don’t want that happening around materials that can easily catch fire. Therefore, you need to be aware of where you place your outdoor lights.

For example, say you’ve set up a Christmas scene in your yard and you want to put an accent light on it. Great! It looks incredible! But suppose you’ve also put materials around it, like straw or hay to act as set dressing. In that case, an accent light that shorts out could cause your whole Christmas scene to go up in flames!

Only use decorative lights made for outdoor use

If you’re wondering how to waterproof outdoor string lights, the answer is simple. Just as you should ensure that all regular light bulbs you use outside are rated for wet weather, you should do the same for any decorative lighting you choose to purchase.

Step 1: Whether it’s Christmas lights or lighted pumpkins on Halloween, you need to look for a label on the product package that says “outdoor.”

Step 2: When decorating outside, avoid lights labeled "indoor/outdoor" or "indoor only."

Use solar lights

One of the best options for protecting outdoor lights from rain is to use solar lights, which won’t be damaged by rain. Since they don’t run on electricity and have no wiring, there’s no danger of a wire shorting out and causing a fire. Moreover, solar lights are sealed units and are thus virtually waterproof. On the other hand, while they won’t short out if they become damp, most don’t have enough energy to run all night.

When it comes to protecting your outdoor lights from rain, much comes down to using your common sense. Also, if you weren’t aware that you can purchase versions of electrical cords and lights that are made specifically to stand up to outdoor elements, you are now. Buy the right kind of lights and electrical cords, be safe, and enjoy!

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Will Blesch
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Will Blesch is a copywriter, content writer, and someone passionate about anything that lets him discover more about this…
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