Saturday, November 30, 2013

All Hail The Inventor Of The Clicky-Clicky Zapper Light Thingee!

For search purposes, I'm sure the folks at Ulta-Lit would like me to call their tool the LightKeeper Pro, and now I have, so you know what to buy, which you should, because hot damn, the thing is magic!

I have a pre-lit tree – that it is artificial is implied, right? – that I've owned for six years, I believe. I used to cut down a tree each year, and while that can be fun, weather-permitting, I really like deciding, "It's time for the tree!" and going downstairs and hauling up the components and fitting them together, plugging them into each other, and then plugging the whole shebang into the wall.

Ta da! Tree!

Except that those little white lights don't last forever, so after the first few years, when I'd plug in the tree, some spots wouldn't be lit. Sometimes they'd come on if I jiggled the branches, but that always made me wonder if I was dealing with a fire hazard.

Of course, I wasn't the only one with the light problem. And who wants to root around in a tree looking for problem bulbs?

No one.

And so the Ulta-Lit people saw a need and filled it. Yay, entrepreneurs!

And lo, people like me heard of the magic light-fixer gun and we were awed by the possibility.

It's super simple to use. There's a short video on the front page of the site and you can root around for more information.

But with a click or two – or up to 30 – the lights come back on!

This year, I noticed in the instructions that once the lights are back on, we should still look for the dark bulbs and replace those.

So that's how I spent part of my day.

First, I needed "donor" bulbs. I had a strand of lights downstairs, so I pulled all of those out of their sockets last night. And I learned an important lesson:

Make sure the bottom parts of the new bulbs are identical to the ones you pulled. Some are flat and some have a weird little protrusion. The ones from my tree are flat but the ones from the string I tried had the protusion. Those bulbs completed the circuit so that the other lights came back on, but those bulbs would remain dark.

So pull one of the duds to use as your sample and then cannibalize a string of lights that you have or go buy a string but make sure the bottom parts of the new bulbs are identical to the ones you pulled.

I was going to go to the store to buy a strand of lights – after first checking the spare bulbs that are usually included to make sure I was buying the right kind – but Mom mentioned that she has a slew of lights at her house since she and my dad don't do the full complement of decorating outside anymore.

So I went over there today to get her tree fully lit. (We have the same tree, purchased on the same night from the same store.) I found a string of lights that had bulbs that would work, pulled out of all of those to use as "donor" bulbs (you can recycle the part of the string that's left; Home Depot accepts dead strands, I think, or you can find places online where you can mail them; they recycle the copper wire and the plastic and such) and then spent some time looking for the duds in her tree. Every time I looked at the tree again, I found more.

Once I got home tonight, I did the same thing to my tree. It was mostly lit, but there were some duds. I swapped those out with the donor bulbs – 30 so far, and I expect to find more – and hopefully, next year, when I put the tree together and plug it in, I'll be in business. But if not, I have the clicky-clicky light thingee!

By the by, having done two trees now, I have a system: I'm wearing a hoodie with separate pockets. Dud bulbs went in the left pocket when I pulled them. Good bulbs were in my right pocket. I held the socket and pulled on the dud bulb, wiggling it if necessary to get it out. (The zapper thingee has a tool built in to help you pry out bulbs, too. But wiggling and pulling usually does the trick.) And then I kept holding onto the socket as I fished out a new bulb. Otherwise, it was too easy to lose sight of the socket I just pulled from.

Also, my donor bulbs are a slightly different brightness than the original bulbs, but I don't mind the variation. They're mixed in enough that it's a pleasant mix. But that's something to note, lest you end up with a tree that looks weird from very different lights.

So there you have it: Your holiday-light hassles solved for about twenty bucks, twenty of the best bucks you'll ever spend.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dud bulbs left, good bulbs right, hmmm? Merry Christmas Cousin

6:52 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I'm right-handed! :o )

Merry Christmas to you, too, cousin. I received your card in your wife's lovely handwriting yesterday.

I hope to get back to sending cards next year!


7:01 AM  

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