How well do salt and lights mix?

April 20, 2021

Short answer: Ocean saltwater breezes combined with sun and high temperatures are hard on Christmas lights and light strings. Installation on or near a beach will shorten their lifespan.

Longer answer

We love nothing better than beaches, warm evenings, and a string of lights. They make a perfect recipe for good times with friends and family.

It is also a fact that saltwater in the air is hard on lights. Really hard on lights.

Anyone living near a beach can tell the stories of doorknobs that require yearly replacement, and constant painting and wood repair. Rust on anything metallic quickly develops and requires wire-brushing and anti-rust paint. It’s the price that’s paid for hearing the sound of ocean waves first thing in the morning.

Wear on lights will show up in the following ways:

  1. Sockets and bulb bases will rust and corrode.
  2. Insulation on cords will show wear more quickly than when installed inland.

What can I do if I am installing lights near a salty body of water?

  1. Have realistic expectations about how long the lights will last and have extra cords, clips, and bulbs on hand to install replacements as required.
  2. For larger bulbs that are installed into separately purchased cords, consider using a thin layer of a product called “bulb grease” on bulbs and sockets. While it doesn’t remove or remedy the issue, it may delay the time rust and corrosion will appear on light strings.

    Bulb grease is available at most local auto parts stores. It is designed for use on boats and cars.

Purchasing separate bulbs and cords can make it easier to replace either bulb or cords as they are affected by the environment. Smaller mini lights strings will more than likely have to be replaced in their entirety.

So, enjoy lights installed near the beach but know that like everything else in that location, you’ll need to be prepared for maintenance and repair.

Shellie Gardner
Aside from throwing dinner parties that feature at least two kinds of cheese dip, Shellie's passions include travel, Mid-Century Modern furnishings and finding the perfect street taco. Has been known to snort laugh champagne.

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