do yourselves a favour

bright spark

New elf
Mar 14, 2011
For sometime now I have been reading about the woes of the xmas lighting world, I've had a laugh and I've shook my head in tears. With such a growing community of enthusiants, who many sadly may not have a good understanding of electricity. I am an electrician by trade and my best advice to most is to forget shopping at BUNNINGS,or even JAYCAR or looking online for cheap deals. Your best bet is to try your local electrical wholesaler. Not only will you find better quality and cheaper than bunnings, last time I looked at bunnings they are 200% dearer (thats 3 times)!!! I order in spade lugs or quick connect as you may call them, through work at $11/100, which our wholesaler wouldn't be much more than that. Same goes for you cable, they are generally far cheaper. The best part is though, they sale people generally are electricians themselves and can be a valuable source of information. From tips about what type of cable would be best, to how to lug correctly. Speaking of which, go and get yourself a pair of ratcheting crimpers, they may be a little bit dear ($50) but they are the correct crimpers for insulated lugs and are well worth it.
I noticed some people giving tips on tinning the wire before crimping lugs, PLEASE DO NOT. Simply twist the strands together from the tip to hold them together when inserting into the lug and crimp. As you crimp, the lug and cable are squashed together and moulded into a tight bond. Tinning the ends only makes it hard, so when crimped may not mould itself with the lug and become a dry joint. Dry joints get HOT!
Also talk to your wholesaler or an electrician about you power requirements. I have seen a lot of photos and videos of displays with thousands of extension leads and powerboards all running back to to 1 or 2 power points. Depending on the size of you display, is that circuit going to hold up?? and how well is it protected?? just because it works now, doesnt mean your not potentially creating a fire hazard inside your house. And dont rely on heresay about what cable to use for what. For instance if you go to BUNNINGS you will find rolls mark for lighting, or power and so on. This is not correct!!!! Cable sizing depends on many factors, from current rating of the circuit breaker protecting it (most important) to the length of the run so you dont have too much voltage drop. So once again have a word with someone who knows.
Above all, safety comes first, not only for you who is creating the magic, but for those who may wonder into you display to have a look. Remember, all metal enclosures of any kind, MUST BE EARTHED, this way if something comes loose the box wont become live.
Now go have some fun