Decorating with 12-volt Christmas lights allows you a lot of freedom in making decisions about how you want to decorate and where. You can use a transformer to run 12-volt lights off your 120-volt house current, or preferably you can run them from batteries, solar, or automotive power. Additionally, 12-volt lights require less energy to run, helping you save money during the holidays.
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Brightly coloured 12-volt lights are available as 30-foot ropes. The ropes are strings of LED lights inside flexible plastic tubing. Rope lights are popular on boats, golf carts, and anywhere else where a bit of protection from the environment is useful. These lights are safe when used around water, can be trimmed to the length you need, and are powered by an on-board battery. It is advisable to seal the ends of the rope with silicone call if you are using the string of lights outdoors.
LED lights use much less power than typical bulb Christmas lights. Batteries and other 12-volt sources produce less power than 120-volt house systems. Therefore, to get the brightest lights using a lower voltage source, it's important to use LED lights. Using LED lights will extend the lighting duration of your batteries by 15 times what you would get with normal mini-bulbs. There many types of LED light strings available directly to the consumer, but for the do-it-yourselfer who wants to solder together an LED board, LEDs are the best bulb to use.
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Ready-made battery-run light strings are available on the market. These 30 to 50 light strings are suitable for decorating small trees, putting in vases, or lighting a mantle. You can also use them to decorate a dollhouse for the holidays or illuminate a miniature village scene. They add a dimension of reality and warmth when placed inside of miniature houses. With cool LED lights, you can even use them in a miniature cardboard and plastic home without worrying about melting or burning. However, they are not adequate to light a large holiday tree. It would take a significant amount of time to replace and recharge the large number of batteries that would be required to run the system.
Solar power and 12-volt lights go perfectly together. Most small single solar cells produce 12-volt power. You can buy solar-powered 12-volt light strings commercially or wire them into an already existing solar power panel. The advantages of these systems is that you can place them almost anywhere and you don't have to periodically switch the batteries. Just set your solar Christmas lights up where you want them and you won't have to visit them again until you're ready to take them down.
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