If I remove a mini light bulb will the others stay lit?

March 13, 2014

white mini lightsHere is a question that I received this morning from a woman in Florida:

“Regarding this product: Clear 15 strand with 4 inch lead, if I remove one or two bulbs will all remaining lights stay on?”

That’s a good question and since it applies to almost all of our mini lights, I thought I’d answer it here in our blog.

All of our mini light bulbs have a tiny little shunt wire – you can see it if you look really, really closely – that completes the circuit when a light goes out.  So if one light “goes out” the rest stay on.

If you remove a bulb, however, the circuit is broken so the rest of the other lights will go out.  This is also true if the base of the bulb or the socket is damaged.

In a mini light strand of more than 50 lights (this is a rule of thumb) the set will be wired with multiple circuits.  So if one bulb is removed, only part of the light strand – a half or a third – will go down.  If this happens to you, examine the part of the string that is unlit and look for unseated or missing bulbs.

If you see a burned-out bulb on your strand, be sure to use a replacement bulb to switch it out.  Even though the rest of the bulbs are lit and look fine, they are actually operating at a slightly higher current.  In technospeak, mini lights are constant voltage, varying current and the fewer the bulbs, the higher the current running through the strand.  (V=I*R …. if the voltage is contant and the resistance goes down, the current must go up.)

Practically, this means that you’re lights will go out faster.   You may have seen this in the past.  One light goes out… then another… then all of the sudden you have cascade failure on your hands.  To hold this off for as long as possible, replace those first couple of failures.

Mini lights have a common lifespan of 1000 to 3000 hours but the lifespan can be dramatically reduced by heat.  If you are using your lights in a semi-closed container, this is a good thing to keep in mind.  It’s also good to turn your lights off when you are not in the room and keep lit bottles and blocks off of vintage Steinway pianos.

If you are selling lights as crafts, consider adding a sticker letting customers know these basic rule of thumb guidelines.

Hope this quick article helps.

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