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PSA: Instantly Fix Your Burnt Out Christmas Lights

December 2, 2014

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We put up our Christmas tree over the weekend, which isn’t really news. I think most people did, right? It’s not really even “blog worthy.” We used silver and gold bulbs we had sprinkled with sentimental ornaments we’ve collected over the years. But, this post is about how every year our pre-lit tree sends us into a fury of frustration because we have dark spots where lights aren’t working when we plug it. You know! Like this:

IMG_9315

Like, the whole top of our dang tree this year. My parents came over for dinner and noticed (even with our attempt to hang an extra string of larger lights in the dark places–haha!) and my dad let us borrow this tool that fixes mini lights instantly.

IMG_9335

“Witchery,” I said. And it kind of is. I mean, it blew my mind. All you do is use the built in scanner to determine which light is not getting power, remove the light, insert the plastic housing into the tool, click the trigger (we had to click it a few times) and all the lights turned on.

IMG_9316

It’s crazy and weird and it works and I tried to pretend I didn’t care how, but I just had to know. This review of it on Amazon explained it pretty well:

Okay, admit it: you read the package, mix in even a basic understanding of electricity, and wonder why anyone would fall for such an outlandish claim. Surely, you can’t fix a lightbulb by passing more electricity through it, no matter the “shape” of the pulse!

This DOES work, though, and it’s because Christmas light bulbs have long been designed to work this way. Every bulb in the light set you own has a “shunt” which is supposed to “melt through” when the filament burns out. And, fairly often, it works just fine. However, every once in a while the shunt doesn’t melt through given the “normal” voltage difference across the bulb, and so the circuit (for the 50 lights in that set or portion of the set) is lost. That’s when not just one lgith goes out (which you might often not even notice), but the entire section of lights turns off.

That’s where the “pulse” fixes things. It provides a low-current, high-voltage difference across the bulbs, which is sufficient to melt the shunts in any burnt-out bulb while not affecting functioning bulbs. Then, you scan for the bulb (or two) which is/are still burnt out, and replace just those. Those are the ones which have been burnt out from the start, but at least one of whose shunts had not melted through.

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So now our tree is all lit, and Greta is happy. We’re all happy. Are we the last ones to know about this thing? Save yourself the yearly headache. We just bought our own here. Bonus–It’s on sale!

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What do you think?

  1. This post was right on time. I pulled out the lights for our tree last night, and sure enough, a huge section didn’t light up. And these were lights that I bought just last year! I’m heading over to amazon to order this gadget now!

  2. Jen says:

    I saw this at Home Depot over the weekend and I think I might have laughed out loud when I saw it. I thought there was no way it could possibly work. I had a strand that was half burnt out yesterday. I put it straight into the trash. Looks like I’ll be getting one of these for next year.

  3. Kimberly says:

    This.is.brilliant! We foolishly wrapped the lights around our tree BEFORE we checked them out only to see that half the strand was out. I thought I had to toss the entire strand! I know what my husband will be getting in his stocking this year…

  4. Michelle says:

    Thanks for posting about this! We have a big chunk of our prelit tree that is dark right now. Ordered the gadget and will share with you the results. I have high hopes!

  5. Anne S says:

    We bought one of these this year and I concur – it’s pure MAGIC. Wish we would’ve known about sooner! Pretty tree, by the way. Sort of off topic…we let our three boys – 4 years old and younger – help decorate the tree this year. Turns out I never knew just HOW.MANY.ornaments could fit on one itty bitty tiny branch (a semi-delicate real tree branch, nonetheless). Turns out it’s around five or six per branch. HA! My husband and I turned around after continually handing them ornament after ornament to find about 30 clustered in one small section of the tree while the rest was barren. We double over in laughter at how hysterical it looked. Now THESE are the things holiday memories are made of. :)

    • Julia says:

      So, so true. Hahaha. We had to keep rotating because Greta would load up whatever 2 or 3 branches were right in front of her face. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

  6. I have never heard of this! Thanks so much!

  7. Monica says:

    Oh Yes! I ordered one of these yesterday! Can’t wait to see it in action!

    Also, just so you know, there are lots and lots of people who wait to put up their tree. We don’t get our until a week or so before XMAS and decorate it as a family on Christmas Eve. This is the way I was raised – actually when we were little, Santa decorated the tree. We just put it up and put the lights on. When we came down in the morning, it was all so magical -gifts and the beautifully decorated tree! Anyway, at least for our family, having the tree up for less time makes the tree quite special and we don’t tire of it. I generally take it down on New Years Day. Also, I feel that the whole lead up to XMAS from right after T-day is kinda commercially manufactured in order to get people out there to spend money, and I don’t “buy” into all that!

    In any case, your tree looks lovely!

    • Julia says:

      Oh my goodnes!! That is such a sweet idea. I can’t imagine how late your parents must have been up. I think there are a lot of commercial things around Christmas, but we usually get all of the shopping done in one day (yesterday for us) and then we spend the whole month with family around the tree reading books, watching movies, visiting others, going to a live nativity. It’s not all commercial. We don’t “buy” into that either! Too much.

  8. Kates says:

    I could have totally used that this weekend when after we got our tree all lit up and the decorations on all but the bottom set of lights went out. Mind you 3 of the strands of lights were brand new just out of the box! I think I might have said some unchristmas like things to my tree in a fit of rage! LOL

  9. Michelle says:

    My dad has been using this gadget for years, and yes, we still kinda gasp every time it’s needed because it does seem pretty magical! This is my first Christmas with my husband in our new house (and first time we’ll be getting a big tree together), so I should probably pick one of my own up.

  10. Emily says:

    I actually bought one of these last year and it worked like a charm on my tree this year. But we had another tree that sections went out on and I still can’t get it to work on that tree. I sent that one to my husbands office and just strung an extra strand of lights on the unlit section but now I’m determined to try again when I go back to decorate it this weekend.

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