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Generally, when hanging my christmas lights, I run a line around the gutters on my second floor. From there, I drop down and put a string across the roof line on the front porch of my house.

This year, I got all new strings of lights. The problem is that the string from the top of the roof ended in an awkward place in the line (about 2/3 of the way through the line). So, I could essentially either "double up" a section of the upper gutter, and then run an extension cord down to the lower roof line, or I could run the lights between the 2 points, stringing the 2 sections together. I chose to run the lights between the two points, but I don't really like the way it looks.

I could just place some electrical tape over the lights that I do not want to see, but I want a better solution. What I want is to remove the bulbs, and replace them with just some caps which fill the bulb sockets but do not light up. The problem is, I haven't ever seen anything like that.

Does anyone have any better ideas for customizing the length or placement of bulbs on a christmas light string?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

You want to get these blackout caps.

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Some light sets allow you to darken individual sections by removing one bulb in that section: I guess that's not the case with your lights, otherwise you'd already have done it.

It sounds as if the lights are in a C shape and you want something more symmetric. A few suggestions:

  • get more lights and close in the opening of the C so you have lights going between the porch and roof line on both sides of the house.
  • use other architectural features on the upstairs (windows, etc.) or on the roof (dormers?) to use up the excess on the upstairs string.
  • run some of the string up the edge of the roof, using the same amount on both sides.
  • if you have a gutter upstairs, hide some of the excess string behind it.
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Mini bulbs are 2.5v each so a 100-lt string has two 50-lt strings wired together, allowing an easy 50-50 split. To make a custom string, count the resistance of each bulb as 7 ohms and replace them with a resistor from Radio Shack. For example, to remove 20 bulbs, use a 140 ohm (20bulbs x7ohms) resistor but watch the size; the voltage drop across the resistor will be 120v/50bulbsx20bulbs=40V, which is a power consumption of about 8 watts (40Vx0.2A).

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This is good method. I agree. If you put less resistance the bulbs are brighter, but don't last as long. – Trout Jan 10 '12 at 3:08

Speaking of customizing, I needed C7 bulbs at 2ft spacing for luminaries so I picked up some strings from Home Depot that have 2-part sockets and removed every other one. Of course I broke 6 before discovering how to separate them: The sockets are simple snap-together plastic with small brass fangs that tap the wire. The base has two plastic prongs that snap into the socket and hold the assembly together. Simple prying tends to break the prongs so I made a small wooden punch that can push on both prongs at the same time and used a heat gun to warm the plastic base before simultaneously pushing the base over the punch and prying the bottom off with a small screwdriver. Presto! I either have a lot of bases and bulbs left over or I can remount them on another wire.

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