Step-by-Step Instructions for Replacing Lights on Yard Sculptures

October 24, 2020

Leaves are changing colors, pumpkin spice is in the air, it’s time to pull out and assess how last year’s Christmas decorations are holding up.

Most Christmas 3D graphic yard sculpture is lit with incandescent light strings that have an approximate average lifespan of 3000 hours so it pays to know how to replace the lights instead of purchasing new sculptures.

Here is a 5-minute video and a detailed written list below with tips to help with that process.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Replacing Yard Art Lights

Shellie Gardner
Quick tips to make this task as quick and as easy as possible.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 or more Light Strings (Choose spacing to match what is currently on your sculpture. Most sculptures use lights that about 2.5-inches apart but the size of your project may require that lights be farther apart.)
  • 100 or more Sculpture Clips
  • 1 or more rolls Electrical tape
  • 1 Adjustable wrench (To measure frame before purchasing clips)
  • 1 Wire cutters (To remove old light strings as you install the new)

Instructions
 

  • Do not remove old lights until you are ready to replace them. This is not the time to tidy things up and "throw out the trash". Those light strings will be your installation guide and help you choose replacement strings.
  • Examine the old light strings. Measure distance between bulbs. Take notes about number of lights, number of strings. The more closely the current installation can be copied, the better. Build a shopping list for lights strings based on all of these variables. Check out different colors of bulbs and wire colors.
  • Measure the frame diameter. You can't assume or eyeball this measurement. It requires a couple of tools. Grab an adjustable wrench and ruler with 1/16" divisions or a caliper. Tighten down the wrench on the frame in several places and measure and record the width of the gap. This is your "frame size". This is also the size of the clip you'll need for this project.
    Sculpture clips fit a standard mini lights string on one side and your frame on the other (that's the measurement you just completed). Note, some LED light strings have bases that are the right size to use with this stule of clips but some are larger than standard size and may not work. We've listed all of our LED light strings that will work with our clips in the clip description.
    Measuring in several places is especially important on vintage or older frames that have been painted and are worn in places. Two clip sizes may be required.
  • Plan to purchase one sculpture clip for each bulb plus a few extra for good measure or the next project.
    After measuring and roughly counting the lights currently on the sculpture, put pen to paper and list all the availble lengths of lights that will work on your project.
    Keep in mind that light strings cannot be shortened so you may need to mix a short string with a longer one to combine into your desired length. Also, remember that not more than 500 bulbs can be run in the same circuit so plan for splitters accordingly.
    Don't forget matching extension cords and electrical tape that matches the wiring of the lights.
  • Find a wire cutter to remove the clips or wire ties that are currently attaching the original lights.
  • Set out electrical tape. Grab a pair of scissors. (Do not use anyone's fabric scissors. This is essential for domestic harmony.)
  • Queue up your favorite music or movie to play in the background while you work. Pick an adult beverage. (Iced tea is fine for now or a spirited alternative could make this process pretty adventurous.)

Tips while replacing the lights

  • Plug in all new light strings before installing to confirm there are no issues. Better to know before rather than after installation. Unplug after testing.
    Plug the new lights every half string or so to make sure a bulb hasn't become unseated during the installation process and to test your work. Sometimes issues with wiring harnessees aren't revealed until the lights are wiggled around a bit.
  • Start at the end with the male plug.
    Observe how the old light string is attached to the frame. Unclip a couple feet of lights. Snap clips onto your new light bulb bases and install them on the frame in the same way the oritinal lights were installed.
    Easy.
    Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
  • Did you end up with a "tail" at the end of a newly installed light string? Double it back on the frame until it's used up. the doubling of the lights should not be that obvious from the sidewalk.
  • Plug in the sculpture with all the light strings installed for one final test before moving it to the yard.
  • Consider wrapping male and female plug connections with electrical tape to make the connection weather-resistant and more securely connected together.
    Perform this after final test.
  • Stand back and admire your work with another glass of tea.
Keyword repair, repairing yard art, sculpture clips, yard art, yard sculpture
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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