I have 6 strings of patio lights, each string with 10 bulbs. They can be plugged together like Christmas lights into a 60 bulb string. Each string is rated 9.6 watts (0.08 amps) and each string has a 3 amp fuse built into the plug.

To make the 60 bulb string more aesthetically pleasing, I would like to cut off the end plug/sockets and solder the strands together into one continuous line. This would leave just one 3 amp fuse at the start of the string.

Is this safe/legal? Is there a better/safer method of joining strands together?

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    No, you should not do this. – Tester101 May 13 '15 at 16:53
  • Agree with tester. There is no safe or legal way to do this. – Speedy Petey Jul 12 '15 at 21:43
  • Also, just for the mention of it, I would say to look at the instructions / specs included with the lights. Most don't even 'allow' 6 strands to be connected in one line and to one circuit. – TFK Jan 9 '16 at 14:46

"Holiday" lighting is covered in the code and required to be listed by Article 410.160. It is considered temporary lighting and therefore you could argue that it could be spliced without a junction box.

The code puts a 90 limit on holiday lighting [590.3(B)] but there is a holiday at least every 90 days and you could claim that you are celebrating a holiday practically every day of the year.

If you don't mind violating the listing of the assembly, and the code: Solder them together and use shrink tubing to cover the splice (make sure you put the shrink tube on one side before you solder the splice.) It may not be pretty but if it is well insulated it will be as safe as the plugs and probably more waterproof. Keep the 3 amp fuse on the end of it for added safety.

OR as bats suggested get a roll of LED rope light terminated with an approved plug.

Happy Thursday!

  • I think that would be pretty secure if the splice is made well and you stagger them. I have used some outdoor heat shrink tubing with adhesive, it was pretty tough stuff. Making a solder splice is not totally easy though, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Union_splice - a suitably rated crimp on butt splice might be OK and require less skill. – batsplatsterson Dec 10 '15 at 12:44

Almost all building codes require that line voltage (110-250V) wires be joined only within approved enclosures or connected by fittings that have been manufactured and approved for those purposes.

Wires are occasionally soldered within fixtures or devices, but not free-standing. And the cords on those light strings were not manufactured and approved for such soldered connections. This becomes even more problematic since the use is outdoors, and exposed to the elements.

If you were to cobble together such a system and a problem occurred, you might face denial of insurance coverage (in addition to the risk of electrocution).

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    @RayL, Even if you soldered the connections within boxes, you'd need to use clamps approved for the box and the wire, to clamp the wires into the boxes. If this is just typical lamp cord/zip cord, it seems unlikely that you'd find such a thing. Maybe you could put UL approved plug ends on the cords, but stringing 6 of them together seems potentially excessive. – Craig May 13 '15 at 19:57

I think it is probably possible to splice the lights in a safe way, it's really not much different from repairing an extension cord. But it would be more complicated than just soldering the wires. The consequences of getting it wrong could be dire.

The NEC wants decorative lights like this to be listed, the modification would void the listing. (Hopefully they are listed in the first place!) So although I doubt it's enforced - I don't know anywhere you have to get a permit and inspection to hang holiday lights - it may well be illegal (depending on your locale.)

If you can find low-voltage lights that you like, those are much safer to get creative with. They are safer in general, even unmodified - 12V DC is much more forgiving than 120V AC. (Something like these LED decorative lights - no idea if this particular set is any good, just an example.)

Of course if you're shopping you could just by a set that's long enough out of the box and avoid the whole issue.

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