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Can You Leave Outdoor Christmas Lights on All Night?

‘Tis the season for outdoor Christmas lights. The many forms of Christmas lights are stapled decorations that are used by millions of households every year. If you have a lot of outdoor Christmas lights, you may find it a pain to walk out in the cold every night to turn them off and have considered leaving them on all night instead. Can you leave outdoor Christmas lights on all night?

It’s okay to leave outdoor Christmas lights on all night. However, using a timer to turn them off late at night saves energy. LED Christmas lights are safer to leave on than traditional lights because they produce much less heat. 

Leaving outdoor Christmas lights on all night usually does not pose any safety issue. Even with traditional lights, the heat produced is minimal. Conversely, if you do leave the outdoor Christmas lights on all night, you will have higher energy costs and you might bother your sleepy neighbors with the light. If you would like to learn all about outdoor Christmas lights and leaving them on all night, continue reading.

Outdoor Christmas Lights are Designed for Long Durations

Christmas lights outside on a home at night

Christmas lights that are designed for outdoor use are typically designed to stay on for long periods of time. These days, they are usually made with LED lights that have a long life and use less energy. It will not negatively impact your outdoor Christmas lights if you leave them on all night. 

If you are planning to purchase Christmas lights for outside your home or business, be sure you purchase outdoor-rated, weatherproof ones. Avoid lights that are for indoor areas for outdoor installations, they will break and could even become a fire hazard. 

Use outdoor Christmas lights like these clear white Christmas lights (on Amazon) or these multicolor lights (on Amazon) which has 8 different light modes. Both of these Christmas string lights are low-voltage, UL certified, and are designed specifically for outdoor use. You can be confident leaving these Christmas lights on all night without any issues. 

Consider Using a Plug timer

DEWENWILS Outdoor Pool Timer Waterproof, 24-Hour Plug in Mechanical Outlet Timer,Heavy Duty Programmable ON/OFF Timer with 2 Grounded Outlets for Fountain Garden Holiday Light, 15A 1/2HP UL Listed

If you are still worried about leaving your outdoor Christmas lights on all night, you could use a timer to automatically turn off your lights between certain times as we’ve discussed in our other tutorial. For example, you can have your lights turn off at 12:00 AM/midnight and then turn back on at 5:00 PM.

This saves you hours of energy use and could slim down your electricity bill a bit. Not only does this save you energy, but it also saves you from having to remember to physically turn the lights on and off. If you do get a timer, make sure it is weatherproof rated and UL listed like this double-outlet mechanical timer (on Amazon) and this triple-outlet photoelectric countdown timer (on Amazon).

These timers plug into your outdoor electrical socket, then you plug your Christmas lights into the outlets on the timers. A mechanical outdoor timer is designed to turn on and off at specified intervals, you can set them to turn on for 18 hours, then turn off for 6 hours; turn on for 20 hours, then turn off for 4 hours, or almost any other variation you desire. 

On the other hand, the photoelectric countdown timer operates based on exposure to sunlight. It will turn off after the built-in photocell stops detecting light for a set amount of time. Photoelectric light timers are a nice solution for people that live far away from the equator and experience changing lengths of nighttime throughout the year.

It does not require you to make adjustments to it when the length of daylight changes. With their plug-and-play setup capability, you can have this time period set very easily and quickly. Your outdoor Christmas lights will now turn off on their own in the late hours of the night, saving you energy costs and from the hassle of physically turning them off and on.

Smart Devices for Automatic Christmas Light Timer Control

DreamColor Outdoor String Lights, Color Changing Waterproof Christmas Lights with Remote Works with Amazon Echo, App Controlled Music Sync Led String Lights for Indoor Outdoor Decor (16.4 FT)

Besides photoelectric and mechanical timers, you can use a smart outdoor outlet timer, like this heavy-duty outdoor timer (on Amazon) that works with Alexa and Google Assistant. Having a smart outdoor timer means you can easily integrate it with your smart devices. You can set on/off schedules easily in an app, or just tell your smart home system to “turn off the outside Christmas lights” whenever you want. As you can see, smart timers offer many advantages over traditional countdown timers.

Additionally, you can utilize smart outdoor Christmas lights for timer control too. Essentially, smart lights, like these color-changing waterproof Christmas lights (on Amazon), can connect to your Wi-Fi network and be controlled by your smart home system or an app all by itself. They require no secondary timer or smart outlet since everything is built into the lights! 

Smart Christmas lights are the easiest all-in-one solution for an automatic shutdown at night. Whichever type of outdoor timer system you get, you will be saving yourself energy and the worry of something going wrong with the lights while you are asleep in bed. 

Benefits of All-Night-Long Lighting

If you do decide to leave your outdoor Christmas lights on all night long, remember that LED lights – as we discussed in our guide – are better than traditional, incandescent Christmas lights for this purpose. They use less power and create less heat which means they are less of a fire hazard. Incandescent bulbs also have a much shorter life than LED bulbs. Before you dust off that old box of Christmas lights from your Grandparents consider these implications. 

If you leave your outdoor Christmas lights on all night long, you don’t have to remember to turn them off and then back on. Leaving your outdoor Christmas lights on all night could also prevent would-be robbers from breaking into your home. Robbers are more likely to target homes and businesses that have poor or no outdoor lighting since they are less likely to be seen by people and cameras while in the dark. 

Benefits of Smart Lighting

If you have smart devices (smart timers or smart lights), they offer even more advantages. They can be set up to respond and be controlled by other smart devices. For example, if you have an outdoor motion sensor, you can set your smart outdoor Christmas lights to turn on when motion is detected, along with your programmed on times. This is even better at putting off would-be robbers since they may think they have been seen by someone who has turned the light on (when in fact it was controlled by a motion detector).