Fix my Dang Christmas Lights

First, I have the miniature, C7 or 7 1/2 (nightlight), and traditional “big” C9 or 9 1/2 bulbs. A few C9’s burn out year to year, however I have problems with teh other two types:

My flashers don’t flash. They’re the standard bimetal bending blink bulb (clear w/red tip). They get real hot and “miror” the case (like old vaccuum tubes) and occasionally if I thump them they’ll go. However mainly just stay frozen on. Why???

These freaking bulbs blow like a whale. I have tw 25 bulb strands that after only 1 year of use only have 10 bulbs each still working. I also have some of those lawn ornaments that blow the clear nightlight bulbs. Nearly as soon as I install a new one, it gets bright, and blamo.

My ordinary house bulbs are fine, just some sort of Christmas Curse I guess. Any other EE’s out there w/suggestions?

  • Hijack

To piggyback on this topic

  1. I heard that some light bulbs when twisted determine if the strand blinks or not. Can anyone confirm this?

  2. Some strands have buttons built in a box on one end. Are these still made?

  3. Has anyone gotten a strand to work for 2 years in a row or more? Is this planned obselessance at its finest?

4.What is up with those Net Christmas Lights, who on earth thought this was a good idea?

5.Are those Icecicle lights fixed now? I mean, I recall they where um, recalled… what became of this, can I go out and buy some of these lights now ?

Thermal shock and vibrations are what is killing the c7s.

You seem to have an overvoltage problem with the flashers. For an example are you using 100 string replacement lights in a 25 string of lights?

No I use the blinkers that come with the exact set.

and HTF do I fix “thermal shock” in frigging WINTER OUTDOOR lights???

This sounds like a slightly twisted version of something plausible. On some modern strands of lights, there are one or two particular sockets that you have to plug the special “blinking” bulbs into. Since the blinking bulbs work by interrupting the current through the bulb, unscrewing a conventional bulb in the same socket will cause the rest of the strand (or a section of the strand) to go out. So if you need to know which socket to plug the special bulbs into to make the strand blink, just unscrew 'em all one by one, and the one that kills the strand is the “special” socket.

C7 and C9 bulbs don’t care squat about where they are plugged in in regards to blinking. They are all 120V bulbs in parallel, not series.

Frequent failures can be attributed to several things:

  1. Bulbs not screwed in well or corrosion. The later is esp. common in outdoor lights. Get some DeOxIt or other quality contact cleaner, a lot of swabs, and clean every socket. Okay, okay, a pencil eraser will do (if it can reach both contacts).

  2. Problems with the circuit the lights are plugged into. Corrosion, miswired, stuff like that. If there’s an outlet on the same circuit as the lights, use one of those plug testers you find at hardware stores. Clean the contacts of where you plug in the lights, after pulling the circuit breaker/fuse of course. (Contact cleaners are quire flammable. Trust me.)

  3. For outside lights, just the weather wind, rain, snow, etc. can cause problems. Make sure the lights don’t flap in a strong wind. Make sure that dripping water, e.g., from melting roof ice, doesn’t come near it. Things like that.

(I’ve had my outdoor lights for 18 years. Only 1 “dead” socket. So I don’t know if more recent lights are cheapo. But since everything else in consumer electronics is made extremely cheapo, probably true.)