Stringing lights across your backyard is the easiest way of providing nighttime lighting, warmth and beauty on your patios and garden. Further, the LED string lights emit little heat and light that makes them unattractive to bugs. Whether solar or electrical, sometimes you may realize that your outdoor string lights are not working. This can be worrisome when you are hosting guests or a soiree.
String lights come with many bulbs connected together on a cable. They are usually powered from a single point. It is common to find outdoor string lights not working either the whole string, only half or several points. In this guide, find out why this happens and how to quickly fix the problem.
CAUTION! Working with electricity can be dangerous and you risk electrocution if you don’t know what you are doing. We highly recommend a qualified electrician to be tasked in hanging string lights across your backyard and resolving your electric lights problem.
Outdoor String Lights Not Working Completely
The whole string of lights may stop working due to a number of reasons including the Following:
1. Power outage
A power outage or blackout is something common after a strong storm, heavy rainfall or high winds which end up causing damages on the electrical grid, power lines and equipment. During this time, there will be no power supply in the affected area or specific lines and you may be left without heating, lighting, air conditioning and other services that rely on the power.
You may want to conduct your electricity suppliers for information or wait until the problem is fixed. Power failures can pose serious danger to the environment and public safety, it is important you exercise caution and safety.
Electrical power outage may not affect your solar string lings. If solar powered string lights are not working, then batteries, solar panel or cable connection is at fault.
2. Tripped GFCI
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is a safety feature that protects against electrical shock. GFCI outlet is commonly used in places susceptible to water. During flooding or when the outlet comes in contact with water, the GFCI will automatically trip in order to protect you and your home from electric shock.
Sometimes an old or a worn out GFCI becomes more sensitive to even moisture and is likely to trip more often. When your lights goes off locate where your GFCI is and rest it. If you experience this more often, simply add a bubble cover to the outlet. Replacing your old or damaged GFCI can offer a permanent solution.
3. Tripped Breaker
Outdoor string lights may go off as a result of tripped breaker. A circuit breaker is an automatic electrical switch that interrupt current flow when a fault is detected. This protects an electrical circuit and other appliances from being damaged by excess current from an overload or a short circuit.
When a circuit breaker trips in the electrical panel, blackout will hit your outdoors. If you have reset your GFCI and light does not come back, simply check the breaker and flip it back into the position. If this does not solve your problem, you may need technical assistance from an electrician.
4. Damaged wires
A cut or damaged wire will stop flow of electric current to your outdoor string lights. Wires can be damaged by rodents such as mice and rats that like chewing on anything. Wires can also get corrode when exposed to water and moisture. To check this, you may need the help of an electrician who may repair or replace them.
Why does only half a string of lights work?
When half a string of lights is working, it shows that current is flowing but the rest of the section on the strand is not working. For such a case, there is no need to suspect your GFCI, circuit breaker or power outage. The following are reasons for this kind of problem plus how to fix.
1. Burned-Out Bulbs
It is normal for bulbs to burn out especially when they are too old. This can also happen with any slight electric mishap. In a series circuit, a burned out LED bulb break the circuit causing the rest of the bulbs to go off. This does not happen if your bulbs are connected in a parallel circuit. String lights are usually connected in two or more series circuits.
A damaged shunt in incandescent lights will cause the rest of the bulbs after the damaged spot to go dark. A shunt is a small wire fixed beneath the filament which redirects the current to keep the rest of the bulbs on when one bulb burns out.
To fix this problem, you will need a non-contact voltage tester to check every bulb. Where an electrical current is present, the tester will beep or light up, if it doesn’t detects current at a specific bulb, replace the affected bulb on the string. Without the tool you can test every bulb in a working socket until you identify the burned out one.
2. Unseated Bulb
Some bulbs on the string can get unseated or loose when they get bumped. Wrongly adjusted bulbs can also stop working with any small interruption. This will definitely affect the rest of the strand and you will end up with half a string of lights working.
Check each bulb that is not working along your light strand and make sure it’s tightly seated in its socket. A little adjustment or push back into place may be all you need to do to bring back the lights.
3. Corroded Bulb
Rust or corrosion can happen at the bottom of the bulb. This will stop current from flowing between the bulb and socket and you will end with a section of the strand not working. To fix this problem, simply clean out the rust using a sandpaper or a small wire brush and fit it back into the socket.
Outdoor string lights care and Maintenance
A good care for your outdoor lighting will keep them working for many years without any problem.
- Check and replace damaged fixtures including batteries on time
- Ensure your outdoor solar lights are receiving sufficient amount of sunlight
- Clean the bulbs and fixtures to remove rust, dust, soil and debris
- Ensure your outdoor string lights are made of waterproof materials
- Ensure the cables and covers are protected from damages caused by animals
- Let an electrician fix any problem if you have no idea of what to do
Outdoor lights are continuously exposed to weather elements that can easily damage or affect how they function. Invest in a reliable brand of outdoor string lights with weather resistance properties. Let your lights and fixtures be installed by a professional electrician and you will hardly have a problem with your outdoor lights.