There’s no easier way to brighten up a space or event than with some attractive string lights, but can you cut them if you need to?
Most string lights can be cut shorter but the nature of the cut itself depends on whether the lights are wired in series or in parallel. Regardless, if you need to cut string lights shorter, you’re almost certainly able to do so, and it doesn’t take very long at all.
Read on to learn more about string lights, how they came to be, and the process you need to follow to cut them shorter.
Back To The Origins
It’s widely assumed that almost everybody knows the origin of the lightbulb. It was a revolutionary invention that quite literally changed the world, and today, lightbulbs in one way or another exist everywhere.
It was in 1879 that Thomas A. Edison presented his impressive and rather oversized incandescent lightbulb to the public. There were claims that the bulb produced as much light as sixteen candles, a remarkable figure for the time.
However, by 1880, Edison had expanded greatly on his invention, working to create a string of lights wired in parallel. He’d created an entire strand of string lights that very same year, and by 1882, he made it a regular tradition to hang the lights outside his laboratory.
And so, the birth of Christmas lights, otherwise known as string lights or fairy lights, was complete.
It wasn’t the first instance in which people had used lights as a decoration to celebrate Christmas. For decades, candles were the mode of choice for brightening up a room or home, but of course, it wasn’t the most economical or practical solution.
As time went on and the lightbulb became much more popular, a more diverse range of string lights became available. By the 1890s, colored string lights were much more commonplace, with people using them to decorate Christmas trees, among other things.
And then, by the time the twentieth century rolled around, they were a household staple, and as the years wore on, they became cheaper, more varied, and more accessible. As soon as production lines made their processes more efficient, the world became neck-deep in lights.
Taking Today’s Lights – And Cutting Them Up!
These days, there is a very diverse market for string lights, ranging from the subtle to the outright gaudy. They’re no longer reserved solely for Christmas, but are also used at weddings, birthdays, general celebrations, and even as simple home decorations.
For example, today, you can purchase LED globe lights, lantern lights, strings of vintage bulbs, rope lights, and standard, traditional string lights. It seems as though there’s a string of lights for every occasion, but what happens when you need to adjust your length of string lights?
Now, when it comes to cutting string lights, there is one extremely important factor to first consider, and that’s how the lights are actually wired. If they’re wired in ‘parallel’, the job becomes so much easier.
However, if they’re wired in ‘series’, then it becomes a little more complex, but it’s by no means impossible. In many cases, all you need to cut string lights safely is a tool for cutting them, and some electric tape, or wire caps.
When a set of string lights is wired in parallel, every bulb receives the same voltage, delivered along two wires that run the length of the string. With a string like this, all you need to do is cut the lights to the desired length, and seal the ends of the bare wires with wire caps.
Although, if you’re cutting a set of string lights wired in series, you’ll need to take more care to avoid causing damage. With these lights, there will be three wires that taper into two, then back to three, and so on.
These are known as sections, and you must cut the string lights according to these sections. It’s advised to simply cut away an entire section, identified by a two wire point, and then cap the ends of the bare wires – simple, in theory.
It Isn’t The End Of The World
Thankfully, string lights are relatively affordable, so if you fail to cut them successfully and ultimately damage the string, it isn’t such a big deal.
If you’d like to learn a lot more about string lights, how they work, and how much they tend to cost, check out this other article we published.