What Are the Causes of Christmas Lights Not Working?


Christmas lights can illuminate the interior of your home, brighten up your Christmas tree or decorate the exterior of your home. Sometimes Christmas lights will plug in only to work halfway or not work at all. Troubleshooting why your Christmas lights are not working leaves a list of possibilities, but if you know the essentials of why your lights are not working you can reach the solution faster.


  • A typical strand of Christmas lights has two fuses with one located at each end of the lights. A fuse on a strand of Christmas lights is used as a safety precaution to prevent Christmas lights from overloading, melting and eventually catching fire. A dead fuse can cause half or the entire strand of lights to stop working. Replace the fuse with the replacement fuses provided in the box you purchased your lights.

Dead or Missing Bulbs

  • When a bulb burns out, a strand of lights may not work. Since a strand of lights operates on a specific voltage to avoid overloading, a strand can also stop working altogether when a portion of the voltage (or light) burns out. Also, if a bulb is missing the circuit will be interrupted and the lights will not work. Replacement bulbs are provided with your strand of lights. Use a replacement bulb to replace the dead bulb and see if that repairs your strand.


  • A strand of Christmas lights cannot work without power. Check the outlet your lights are plugged into first to ensure that it is working properly and is not the cause of your lights malfunctioning. If any lights on the strand are working then it is not a power issue.


  • Homes have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter for indoor and outdoor power. In the event a house suffers from a lost current, the GFCI is automatically tripped to stop power to the outlet and trip the circuit breaker. This prevents anyone from being electrocuted that is around or using the outlet or device plugged into it. Check to ensure that the circuit breaker has not been tripped. If it has, unplug the lights and ensure that there are not more strands plugged in than recommended by the manufacturer. Plug in strands of lights into different outlets and do not overload the outlet with more strands than is recommended on the instructions.

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