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Author Topic: powering old lights safely and cheaply  (Read 14116 times)

Offline Hemingray

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powering old lights safely and cheaply
« on: December 23, 2004, 10:12:06 pm »
thought of this awhile ago, and figured it would work. what you will need:

standard outlet
lamp cord
outlet box (or tape)((box recommended))
small needlenose pliers

the way mentioned here will help you power up 2 or more sets of lights safely, a good way to use them on your tree (provided they are in good condition)

1: take outlet, locate breakaway tab on HOT side of socket (between screws)
2: using NN pliers, break this tab off.
3: fish cord into box (USE STRAIN RELIEF), take wires, hook them BOTH to the same side of outlet (one per screw on side where you have removed the tab. DO NOT WIRE on untouched side.)
4. set in box, cover w/plate
5: plug in 2 strings of C-6 lights (one per socket)
6: plug socket into wall. lights should light up dim, but bright enough to be usable (6-9v per lamp)

doign it this way, seems like a good idea of bringing those familiar old C-6 and figural lamps back to the christmas world, also this way your lamps will last much longer, as they are being fed a much lower voltage. Hope this works for yall.

Cliff S

Offline M J Brady

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Re: powering old lights safely and cheaply
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2004, 04:31:59 pm »
The outlet box is a must. Also a grounded power cord.
Otherwise a pretty good idea.


Offline Alan Franzman

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Re: powering old lights safely and cheaply
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2005, 05:21:45 am »
You should have mentioned right at the start that this is for people in USA, and may not apply elsewhere. (Do other countries use breakaway conductive tabs on "duplex" receptacles, to allow each of them to be on separate circuits? Here it's mainly so one of a pair can be controlled by a wall switch, while the other is always live.)

Also, here's how to tell which is the "HOT" side: A) it has gold-colored terminal screws - the neutral side has silver-colored screws. B) it has the shorter slot, to accept only the narrower blade of polarized plugs.

Either or both of these features may be missing if your duplex receptacle is more than about 40 years old...

For those who didn't "get it", this is a very simple method to put two light strings in series, rather than the normal parallel configuration - if the strings are approximately the same, each will only receive about half the normal voltage.

BTW, I would definitely use a standard electrical outlet box, preferrably plastic.  If using a metal box, then a cable clamp may be needed and the box should be grounded (connected to the green wire in the grounded power cord, along with the green screw on the receptacle).  Also, if using a separate cable clamp or one built into the box (if no good strain relief can be found or made to work), to get a good grip and not puncture or tear the cord's insulation, wrapping it with several layers of electrical tape at the clamping point to make it thicker and tougher is a fair alternative.

Offline Hemingray

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Re: powering old lights safely and cheaply
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2005, 01:46:20 am »
ohhh yeah! as far as the 40yr old receps goes, 2 can be wired in series with one another, and just use 2 of the now 4 sockets at a time.

Offline markie4now

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Re: powering old lights safely and cheaply
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2009, 03:02:27 pm »
The simplest method is to use a slliding lamp dimmer from Wal-Mart or Target and utilize that.  Once your C-6 lights or bubblers are warmed up, dim the lights and they will last for years to come!!
I love all things Chriistmas and have collected for many years!