Why are my Christmas lights not working?

by | Nov 2, 2019

More than likely your lights are not working for one of the following reasons:

  1. The wiring is damaged. This is especially true if only a section of your lights has gone out and none of the bulbs are missing. This can be caused by aging, tugging too hard during installation or storing, or by chewing animals. See our post about: squirrels and opossums.
  2. The fuse is blown. If your set of lights go out during installation or shortly after plugging in, take a look at how many lights are strung in series and reduce the number of light strings in series so they don’t add up to more than 210 watts, then check the fuse.

    In most sets of Christmas lights, there is a little door in the male plug that can be slid back to reveal a fuse (or two in some cases). Use a small screwdriver to slide the door back, gently pry out the fuse and check to see if it’s been blown. The little wire in the middle of the glass cylinder will be broken.

    Replace the fuse and this may very well solve your problem unless the blown fuse was caused by a wiring problem.
  3. A bulb might be unseated or missing. In most strings of Christmas twinkle lights, if a bulb burns out the rest will stay lit. If a bulb is half-unseated or a bulb is removed, then the rest of bulbs in that circuit will go out.

    Without removing and reinserting the bulbs, check to see if a bulb is missing from its socket. If you find a missing bulb, replace it and your light string should work unless there is an issue with the wiring harness.

Troubleshooting Steps

  1. Check for visible damage to the wiring harness.
  2. Check the fuses,
  3. Check the bulbs.

Have tips on how you’ve fixed your lights? Share them in the comments below.

Why are my Christmas lights not working?
PIN and SAVE for later!

Recent Posts

Get this Look: Traditional Glass C9 Bulbs

Get this Look: Traditional Glass C9 Bulbs

This project used 625 LED bulbs installed into SPT-2 cord purchased in a bulk spool. To create this look, start with this supply list. Materials C9 Spool 1000-feet 9 inch spacing green wire SPT-2 C9 White Glass Light Bulbs C9 Rubber O-Ring Green Male Gilbert Plugs...

read more

4 Comments

  1. bradley jones

    On my single strand of outdoor lights, which were working, now the first bulb on the stand works but not the rest. I’ve switched bulbs and it’s the same results. Only the first bulb is lit. No blown fuses, no broken bulbs, and like I mentioned, the whole strand was working yesterday.

    Reply
    • Shellie Gardner

      That is an unusual and frustrating problem. It is possible that your light string has been damaged and may need to be replaced. It could have possibly been chewed or damaged by something around or next to it.

      Without actually holding and seeing the light string it is hard to provide an exact diagnosis.

      We can’t give out electrical advice but I would strongly encourage you not to plug in that set of lights under the conditions you’ve described.

      Reply
  2. My lights on my tree is not coming on what could be the problem

    My lights on my tree is not coming on what could be the problem

    Reply
    • Shellie Gardner

      That is a hard problem to diagnose without seeing your tree. Your first steps would be to check the fuses in the plugs of the lights, then do a quick check to see if any bulbs have come out of or partly out of their sockets.

      Also, look for any physical damage that might have happened to the lights while they were in storage. If you do see any damage to the wire, do not plug in the lights again until you have replaced the lights.

      Hope these suggestions give you a place to start.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Blog Posts

FAQ: What do I use to outline my roof?

FAQ: What do I use to outline my roof?

What do I use to outline my roof?During Christmas, a few basic materials are used to outline rooflines with lights. The list includes C7 or C9 Christmas cords, bulbs, commercial clips, and gilbert plugs (both end and inline). You'll also need wire snips and...

read more
Are C7 and C9 bulbs the same?

Are C7 and C9 bulbs the same?

Are C7 and C9 bulbs the same?Short Answer: No, they are very similar but are different sizes. Continue reading the long answer for photos and more information. Longer Answer: C7 bulbs are shorter with smaller diameters than C9s. Both are installed in 18 AWG...

read more
Christmas Lights Lingo!

Christmas Lights Lingo!

Common Christmas Lights Terminology and Vocabulary 5mm This is a shape of LED lens that is about the shape of and slightly smaller than a pencil eraser. It has been referred to as "wide angle" and "conical" in the past since there is a cone shape molded into the lens...

read more
Get This Look: Using Gilbert Plugs

Get This Look: Using Gilbert Plugs

Brian from Oregon purchased 100-foot Christmas light cords, cut them to length, and used gilbert plugs to connect the lights to power and to each other. Here is what he had to say: Easy to UseGreat product and super easy to use. I bought 2 100ft rolls so I could make...

read more
Mini Light Spacing Discussed

Mini Light Spacing Discussed

There are 3 standard spacings for mini lights. Choosing the best spacing is essential for a polished project and can be tricky. We hope a quick visual will help you decide. Here are those three spacings: Standard Christmas Light Spacing A word about lengths of...

read more
Get This Look: Our Christmas Angel

Get This Look: Our Christmas Angel

Ed from Crawford, TX sent us this photo of his beautiful angel project. Here is what he had to say: Earlier this year I contacted you for help in securing lights and clips for our Christmas Angel. We had the angel for years but weather and time took their toll on not...

read more