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Return to main page Information about lights Repair or modify your lights! Custom flasher controls Links to other lights pages

Repair Section Home
Fix Damaged Mini Lights
Fix Mini Sets That Don't Light
Fix C7 Or C9 Lights
Modify Mini Lights
LEDs As Holiday Lights
Regular Lights As Decorations


[under construction]

If you want to make some sort of Christmas sign, and don't
want to drill a bunch of holes in wood to place bulbs through
or if you want something bright, fluorescent lights may be
the way to go.
I have found that you can make decorations fairly easily (and
cheaply) this way:

Pre-made Light Fixtures
Try to get hold of some of those fixtures they use in offices
(make sure they are for 120 volts, not 277v) - go to the flea
market, garage sales, etc. Alternately you can build your own
fixture out of wood (or metal). Also avoid anything that doesn't
use at least 2 standard 48" bulbs

The pre-made light fixtures are good because it gives you a
good frame to start with, and already has all the electrical
in place, plus has a nice plastic cover/door (but the bad
points are that many have multiple holes that will need to be
Assuming you go this way continue reading, if building your own
fixture jump down to Build Your Own..

Once you have the light, get some 1/8" hardboard or Plywood
(try to avoid cardboard or other paper products).
Cut the board to fit inside the light's plastic. After that cut
out whatever design or words in the board that you want
paint it a dark color then place it in the light.

If its going to be outside you should hide/protect the metal
fixture from weather. The important thing is to Make sure any
holes are blocked/sealed, The internal electrical parts must
never get wet Remember you are dealing with high voltage!
It may be easiest to build a simple wood frame over the fixture

Build Your Own Light Fixture
The advantage here is that you can make your own shape/size
but remember use 48" bulbs, and rectangle box/fixture is much
easier to build & weatherproof than some odd shape

The important thing to remember is the internal electrical parts
must never get wet Remember you are dealing with high voltage!

Decide what size 'fixture' you need, then get whatever materials
you prefer to work with (wood/metal/plastic/cementboard/etc). For
the electrical part you have a couple choices - get a shoplight &
mount it inside (easy, but will limit where the light is), Or get
A Ballast & Sockets which is harder but you have the ability to
place the bulbs where you want/need them (if you live where it
gets cold, whichever way you go make sure you use an Electronic

For the front panel you can use Plexiglas (don't use real
glass) or the plastic light panels meant for lights in grid
Cut your words/designs into place a piece of 1/8" hardboard or
Plywood sized to fit behind the Plexiglas/plastic front

To make 'colored bulbs' go to a local hobby or craft store and
pick up a roll of transparent colored plastic. Cover the bulbs
with one or more layers of the plastic to get the desired color.

The other (expensive but safer & longer lasting) way is to get
colored plastic panels (or something like 'stage gels' (i
believe that's what they call the colored pieces used for covering
stage lighting)

If it gets below zero, the thing probably will not light...
to help prevent this, do not use 'energy saver' bulbs, and
try to turn it on while the sun is up.
Or if you can get a deal on one, use a light with an electronic

Make sure to protect the electrical parts from
getting wet- if you are in a place that gets allot
of rain or wet snow place it inside. In most places
you should be able to place the light outside as
long as all holes in it have been blocked.

Be careful with fluorescent type lights - when on
they can generate up to 850 volts -- easily enough
to kill or start a fire.

In some cases you may have to ground the fixture to make
it light (I don't know why)

this is the 'happy' from 'happy new year'

These didn't turn out real good
it's tough to get a good image
of a light. It will look closer
to the bottom one at night

Warning! Danger! High Voltage
Electrical safety is not to be taken lightly especially when
dealing with high voltages

The purpose of Fluorescent Ballasts is to do 2 things:
(1) Provide a high voltage to light the bulbs
(2) Once on, limit current through the bulbs (otherwise they
    would blow almost instantly.

Don't be fooled, just because it limits current does not mean
it can't harm you...
There is easily enough current there and with the high voltage
A Ballast can kill you easily - or at least give severe electrical
burns (which i'm told are much worse/more painful than fire burns...
this is especially true for Electronic Ballasts, which are far more
dangerous than standard ones because they operate at even higher
voltages, and can deliver it instantly.

As stated in the building section above, the electrical parts
can NOT get wet - with the high voltages they operate at, even
alittle water can cause a big problem.
If you live in a place that gets lots of rain (esp heavy rain)
place the entire fixture somewhere where it will not even get
rained on.

-More warnings at bottom of page-

Want some really bright Xmas Lights?
Buy (or build) a strobe light. This can give quite a nice
Instead of putting a star on top of the tree, install a
colored strobe there. or maybe at the corners of the house?
there are quite a few places where you could put something
like that...and you will have the brightest Christmas lights
one thing that would really impressive would be to put a bunch
of different colored strobes in a large tree...but it would
also be very expensive (way too expensive)

A strobelight uses at least 4000 volts to make the
flash, be careful that it is in a weatherproof
enclosure if you put it outside

It's probably best not to use this type of light if
you are right near a busy road or intersection

All info here is provided as is without warranty of any sort
I can not be held responsible for any problems/damages/injuries/
etc caused by the use or misuse of this info

Warning: read all the following before you continue.

The info on these pages can be DANGEROUS.

Electricity can KILL or INJURE you, be careful and treat it with
full respect.

Electricity can also cause FIRES, again be careful with it.

Fluorescent Light Ballasts increase the 120volts input to 600 or
more volts... while 120volts is easily enough to cause death, this
increased voltage is much more dangerous...
A Electronic Ballast is even more likely to cause serious burns or
A Fluorescent Light should be considered ARMED and DANGEROUS whenever
it is on (whether there are bulbs in it or not) Fluorescent Lights
can also hold a charge even after being unplugged, (especially if
turned on with no bulbs in it).

I Can't stress enough, be extremely careful - a Fluorescent Light
Ballast burn or even can kill you

A note to anyone who may be coming here looking for some weird stuff
like Suicide by Fluorescent Light ... don't even try it, the most
likely thing that will happen is you will end up with is an extremely
painful electrical burn.

Never work on any electric product plugged in.

If you don't know anything about electricity / electric products,
don't even try any of these.

There is no guarantee that this actually will work - build at
your own risk.

Always have someone double check your work before connecting
power to anything you've worked on.

Electricity and Water do not mix.

Avoid working in any area where flammable products (such as gas/
paint/etc) are stored or used

Do not work with electric items when you are tired, being tired
will only increase the chance of mistakes

Avoid working on electric products if you have consumed any
alcoholic beverages or drugs (medical or otherwise) as these
will impair your ability to concentrate on your work

if you become frustrated while working on something, set it
down and walk away (turn off / unplug any equipment you have

Keep your work area clean and organized. If you work in a room/
area without windows (or work at night) install a automatic backup
light... that way when you blow a circuitbreaker/fuse you will not
be in the dark.

Do not overload Circuits/Extension cords/Lightsets/ Etc

Modifying any electric product WILL VOID any warranty on it

Using any electric product for other than its intended use WILL
VOID any warranty on it

In addition there is a chance you will void your insurance by
using modified electric items, if that item causes a problem
such as a fire

This is only a partial list of the cautions/dangers there are
many more not listed here (but still apply)

Always remember...
Be safe!
It is not worth risking your life or home over an electric item!

This page and the images on it (c) 1999 - 2016 James K