Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Holiday Decorating with Rope Light

Accenting different aspects of your home, inside or out, is quite easy with rope light. The versatility of rope light makes it a favorite among decorators for accent lighting. The same versatility makes it a perfect option for holiday decorating as well. Rope light is a broadly used term referring to lights that are manufactured in flexible tubing. Rope light is manufactured in many different styles and colors. Recent innovations have the same type of lighting in square, rectangular, and even strip like flexible coating. The lights come in 120 volt, LED, and a low voltage, 12 volt style. Different wiring configurations within the rope light allow for chasing or pattern effects with a controller and there are even super bright versions of the lighting.

The flexibility of rope light is only half of its story; it is also very economical. The lights can be used in lengths up to 150 feet (600 feet for the LED version) but can be cut to smaller runs. The rope has markings on it showing where the cuts can be made so that the lights are not damaged. The bulbs within the roping are not replaceable but they are typically rated for about 25,000 hours or about 10 years of typical use (100,000 hours for the LED version). Best of all, 10 feet of rope light only uses about the same amount of energy as a 60 watt light bulb and emits very little heat in the process. LED rope light runs about 75 feet for the same energy usage as a 60 watt light bulb and remains cool to the touch. With all of these options, it may be difficult to decide where to start with your holiday decorating.

Outside, rope light can be used to outline just about anything you can think up: your yard, sidewalks, windows, roofline, columns, deck rails, yard art, even mailboxes. Tree trunks can be wrapped (and unwrapped) easily with a piece of rope light. You can even create holiday messages out of rope light due to its flexibility; allowing you to wish your neighbors ‘Happy Holidays’ each night. Holiday decorating is easy with rope light because multiple colors of the roping can be spliced together to get the effect you want (like red and green or red and white). The ability to splice the different colors together allows you to match your existing lighting if necessary. Inside the house, rope lighting can be used to give a glowing effect to any greenery. Run behind garland on a mantle, allows you to hightlight the decorations. In the same manner, a piece of rope light run down along the trunk of your tree (real or artificial) provides a glow from within the tree. The most basic application indoors would be as garland on your tree. You can do this in any color and you could even create a chasing effect if you add a controller.

Don’t worry, rope light is easy to install and hook up. You can purchase the rope light in 150’ spools or in kits that contain smaller runs of rope light (usually 12 to 30 feet). Kits contain the rope light, a power-cord connecter and mounting clips. Be sure to check what is and is not included when you purchase to avoid hold ups in your decorating schedule. You may need to buy splicing connectors or extra mounting clips for your application. Typically, the power cord attaches to the rope light via a connector that is pushed into one end of the rope. A splicer works in a similar manner to connect additional lengths or colors of lighting together. The mounting clips are screwed or tacked into the surface where the rope light is to be hung at about 3 to 4 inch intervals. You can then just snap the rope light into the mounting clips. Be sure to lay out or plan your project so that the end of your rope light with the power cord is closest to your power source. Once you are done, you can sit back and enjoy your new lighting effects.

Decorating with rope light can give you dramatic payback at a low cost and without much expertise in lighting. It really provides that extra punch of light and color inside or out and I think once you start decorating with rope light, you’ll be inspired to add more in and around your home at the holidays!