Holiday Lighting: Indoor vs. Outdoor

How can you tell whether holiday lighting is meant for outdoor or indoor use?

Some holiday lighting is for both indoor and outdoor use, and if your lights clearly state that, you’re in the clear. Look at the safety tags, governed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which analyzes all electrical items made in America. Every electrical product that’s been tested and deemed safe from fire and shock gets a UL listing.

holiday lighting

No UL listing? Your lights are either not made in the U.S., are too old to have a UL listing, or are not deemed UL safe. These three options are all dangerous and easily avoidable.

You might find cheap holiday lighting online, but if the lights are used or not made in the U.S., it’s impossible to know how safe they are. Whether you rent or buy holiday lighting, it’s worth the nominal upgrade fee to get UL-certified lights that will help safeguard your home, property and family.

Holiday Lighting Checks

Indoor holiday lights will feature either a green tag or a silver one with green text. Outdoor holiday lights will have either a red tag or a silver tag with red text. The UL changed tag colors a few years ago, but as long as holiday lights have a UL tag, regardless of when that tag was added, and the lights are still in good condition with no fraying or other damage, you can trust that they are safe.

Old, classic outdoor holiday lights generally look bigger and more durable, but these are no longer good indicators of whether lights are rated safe for use outdoors. It’s impossible to tell the difference without checking the UL tag color. Get in the habit of always checking tags just like you check for holiday light string damage.

Multi-Use Light Rules

You can still find some lights that are either just for outdoor or just for indoor use. When that’s the case, don’t take the risk of treating them like multi-use lights. Indoor-only lights aren’t equipped to deal with the moisture, temperature swings and stress of the outdoors — especially Utah winters. Snow, condensation, rain and more might lead to ruined holiday lights, electrical shorts or even a fire.

Likewise, outdoor-only lights might be too heavy and bulky for your tree.

As you shop for new holiday lights and upgrade from previous years, keep an eye out for UL tags, and whenever possible, opt for multi-use lights. You’ll be safer and have more options when your lights work both indoors and outdoors.

You can also save by renting. This way you get to choose different types of lights every year, plus you can depend on an arborist and holiday lighting expert to string the lights for you.
If you’re running late on decorating this year, give Reliable Tree Care a call, and get those holiday lights up, pronto!