How to Splice Christmas Tree Lights

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It's early Christmas morning, and you're scrambling to get everything just perfect before the rest of the family rises to join you to celebrate the holiday. You poke the plug into the wall socket but the Christmas tree lights refuse to come to life. Eyes wide with panic, you grab the end of the wire near the plug – only to find a damaged section. Thankfully, you've got what it takes to save the day – a few minutes, some crimp connectors and a few simple tools to splice the Christmas tree lights.

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Want to learn how to splice your Christmas tree lights? Here's how.

Things You'll Need

Step 1: Unplug the lights.

Make sure the light string is unplugged at both ends before you attempt to splice Christmas tree lights. Place a piece of masking tape on each wire on either side of the damaged portion you are cutting away, about 2 inches on either side of the damage. This will leave you with two pieces of tape on each wire strand--most Christmas lights have two strands, but some have three or more.

Step 2: Label the tape pieces.

Label the two pieces of tape on one strand "A" with a permanent marker, then label both pieces of tape on the next strand "B," then continue the pattern for each additional strand. This will ensure you connect the proper strands back together in the splice.

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Step 3: Trim out the damage.

Cut out the damaged portion of your Christmas tree light wires using wire cutters, taking away about an inch of wire on either side of the damage to ensure you are working with good wire for the splice, but leaving the portion you taped.

Step 4: Choose the connectors.

Select a crimp-on butt connector, also called a barrel connector, for each wire in the light strand. These connectors look like tubes with slightly larger ends than centers. They come in different sizes, so choose one that matches the gauge of your Christmas tree light wire, which will most likely be between 18 and 22 gauge.

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Step 5: Measure the barrel.

Measure the thinner portion of the connector's barrel, then divide that length in half. Use wire strippers to remove that length of insulation from the end of the wire you will be splicing. This allows the thicker portion of the connector to house insulated wire while the active (thinner) part of the connector houses the bare wire, keeping the bare portion away from contact.

Step 6: Close the connector.

Place one end of one of your wires into one end of a connector, then place the connector and wire into the grooved side of your crimping tool. Squeeze the tool's handles together to crimp the connector shut.

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Step 7: Connect the wires.

Place the other wire with the same label in the other end of the connector. Place that end of the connector into the crimping tool's groove and squeeze the tool shut tightly.

Step 8: Secure and wrap the connection.

Pull firmly on both ends of the wire to ensure they are secure in the crimp. If not, start the process over with a new connector. Once the connection is secure, tightly wrap the connection in electrical tape, stretching the tape as you wrap it around the wires. This will not hold the wires into the connector if the crimp is not secure, but it can reduce strain on the wires from movement and prevent debris from working its way into the crimp. Electrical tape comes in a variety of colors, so match the wire color as closely as possible for a less obtrusive splice.

Step 9: Repeat to fix the Christmas lights.

Repeat the crimping and taping process for each wire to splice the light string.

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references & resources

Anne Hirsh

Anne Hirsh has been writing and editing for over 10 years. She has hands-on experience in cooking, visual arts and theater as well as writing experience covering wellness and animal-related topics. She also has extensive research experience in marketing, small business, Web development and SEO. Hirsh has a bachelor's degree in technical theater and English and post-baccalaureate training in writing and computer software.