Tips for safe Christmas lights

December 09, 2011

If your lights are incorrectly used or do not comply with Australian Standards they could leave your festive season in ruins.

To have a safe and happy festive season, it’s worth keeping a few things in mind.

If you don’t already have a safety switch on your switchboard it is worthwhile having one installed or at the very least using a portable safety switch to connect your Christmas lights. While a circuit breaker is designed to protect your property, only a safety switch is designed to protect your life. Find out more about safety switches and how to recognise one.

If you have any doubts about the electrical safety of any Christmas lights, decorative lighting, other electrical equipment or your electrical installation, contact a licensed electrical contractor. You can find them in the Yellow Pages, White Pages, your local newspaper or by contacting an electrical industry association.

The Electrical Safety Office brochure ‘Decorative lighting safety hints’ explains important things you need to know about buying, using and storing Christmas lights. For a copy of the brochure visit

Christmas lights safety tips

Before you get started

• Choose the right type of Christmas lights for the location.
• Always take normal precautions when buying, installing, using and storing them.

Things to consider about the Christmas lights you will use

• Are the lights for indoors or outdoors?
• Will the lights be left outdoors?
• Will the lights be used near children?
• Will the lights be installed on metal fencing or near other metal objects?
• Visit the Electrical Safety Office website for more information.

Purchasing your Christmas lights

• Christmas lights require an Australian certificate of approval before they can be sold in Queensland. When buying new Christmas lights, look for an approval number (e.g. Q12345; V12345; N12345; NSW12345;) or the regulatory compliance mark logo, which indicates compliance with Australian Standards. These marks must be on the Christmas lights and are normally found on a plastic tag near the supply plug, or on the transformer body if it is an extra low voltage type. The markings may also be printed on the packaging.

Only buy lights that have an approval mark. Visit the Electrical Safety Office website for additional information

Only buy lights that have insulated pins on the supply plug.

Only buy lights that have insulated pins on the supply plug .

• Buy your lights from a reputable dealer. Buying your lights from a retailer who has been in business for a long time, or has a well known brand, will give you some confidence that the retailer knows the electrical equipment safety requirements for selling Christmas lights in Queensland.
• Beware of buying Christmas lights online from other countries. Other countries have different electrical systems and safety standards and the products may be unsafe for use in Australia. Remember, if it doesn’t have an Australian type plug, the Christmas lights will not be approved for use in Australia.
• Buying Christmas lights at markets or second hand may increase the risk of buying unsafe Christmas lights which are not approved for use in Australia.
Safety requirements for Christmas lights have changed in recent years so second hand lights may not meet the latest safety requirements. (A good way to check the condition of old Christmas lights is to see if the plug has “insulated pins”. If it does not have insulated pins then the Christmas lights may be very old and may not meet the latest safety requirements.)

If you buy second hand Christmas lights you should have them checked by a licensed electrical contractor before you use them.

Visit the Electrical Safety Office website for more information on:

• Installing your Christmas lights
• Using your Christmas lights
• Packing lights away

Warning! Look up and live.
Keep yourself, decorative lighting and other equipment well clear of overhead power lines.

Never attempt to do your own electrical work – it’s dangerous, illegal and can be fatal. Always get a licensed electrician to do any electrical work.

For more information about electrical safety or Christmas lights, visit the Electrical Safety Office website