Council and Community Group Buying Guide
Simple tips to help you plan an effective community Christmas light display.
There are a vast variety of lights that twinkle, sparkle and even change colours to invoke the Christmas spirit. Yet, choosing the perfect display can become an overwhelming decision making process. Here’s everything you need to know about creating a festive display that will bring some sparkle to your Parish or local Community.
When it comes to displays for your Parish or Community Council, perhaps the most important factor in planning any commercial lighting display is your budget. Inevitably the overall visual impact of your display will be heavily influenced by the budget available. If your budget is limited, that needn't stop you thinking creatively to maximise its effect.
There are always options and alternatives: perhaps a mix of outdoor string lights, combined with icicle lights would be the answer. Look at your budget and figure out how to spend it in the most efficient way to create the biggest wow factor. Whether you have been asked to light up a high street, monument or shopping area, by following our simple tips and guidelines, the minefield that is commercial lighting should hopefully become a lot clearer.
The main consideration will be where your power is coming from. Are you using mains power, generators, wiring into lampposts or a council power supply? Many forms of commercial lighting come supplied with a standard UK socket, but you may require the services of an electrician, depending on the installation.
Along with such requirements come the inevitable health and safety constraints. It’s always worth checking in advance whether there are any restrictions or limitations in place in the area of your installation or put in place by the venue, community or parish council.
All of our team are knowledgeable about the technical spec of all of our lights, as well as having a good depth of experience in dealing with the requirements of electricians and councils.
But before we get carried away with all the different styles and colours of lights, we should talk about the boring stuff… Health & Safety etc… is something you really must turn your mind to, a bit dull, we know, but necessary.
- Are there any byelaws you need to be aware of?
- Does your display need to be Low Voltage?
- Can you use mains voltage with a RCD?
- Do you need to run any cables along the ground or at a height?
- Do you need to protect anything from vandalism?
A really good place to start is checking if there is an existing stock of lights? If so, test them and check if they are still in good condition and suitable for use. They can form the basis of whatever you want to do.
Which lights should you choose?
Inevitably the overall visual impact of your display will be heavily influenced by the budget available - but if your budget is limited, that needn't stop you thinking creatively to maximise its effect.
The vast majority of our lights are inter-connectable and can be forked in different directions, which means you can run hundreds if not thousands of LED bulbs from a single power source and extend your capacity bit by bit.
To LED or not to LED?
You will need to give some thought to the type of bulbs you wish to use, normally either LED or filament bulbs are chosen.
LED’s or light emitting diodes as they are more formally known are small lights illuminated by the movement of electrons within a semi-conductor material. In simple terms, little chips of light surrounded normally in silicon which are extremely robust and hardwearing as well as being supremely energy efficient. Compared to their incandescent filamented brothers, LED’s lead the pack in terms of flexibility, lifespan and cost effectiveness.
For some jobs however there will be a requirement for glass filament style bulbs. Old school classic fairy lights will sometimes be specifically requested and are always an option although prove slightly less flexible in design. Obvious draw backs are that they are made of glass which is far more delicate than LED’s, they also cost more to run and have a much shorter lifespan. One advantage of filament lighting is that more light is actually thrown to the surrounding area than with LEDs which have a more limited (approx 120 degrees) arc of light.
String Lights are long lengths of lights, perhaps most reminiscent of the lights you put on your Christmas tree at home. Many LED varieties are connectable sometimes up to 750m powered from one socket which can prove invaluable when your power source is limited or hard to get to. String lights are a great option for decorating large trees either being draped around their foliage or wrapped tightly around the trunk and branches. Available in many colours, functions and in either mains or low voltage.
We have blank cable in 5 and 10 metre increments which are extremely useful when your power source is some distance from where you wish the lighting to start from. These blanks can also be used between strings of lights - great when running from one tree, bush or even building to another.
I have set my budget, I’ve bought my lights, now how do I install them? This is perhaps a consideration you should make before the purchase of the lights. How you will install your lights may even come into play when setting your budget depending on whether you require any specialist machinery.
For many larger displays a cherry picker or scaffolding could be necessary. Many local hire centres around the country have this equipment available. Bear in mind that the equipment will have to be hired twice - once for installation and then again when Christmas is over and the lights come down.
The internet is jam packed full of handy guides, tips and tricks on the actual securing of your lights to the structure they are decorating. In our experience the ever faithful cable tie takes a lot of beating. Strong and resilient they are extendable and flexible, easily removable and a key plus point, cheap. S hooks and gutter hooks are invaluable for using to decorating guttering.
It should be kept in mind that LED’s produce no heat so are ideal for use indoors when used with material and voile, filament bulbs can get very warm when left on for a long time.
Storage and Maintenance
Now comes the boring bit, once your lights and decorations have been taken down it's worth taking the time to inspect them for any damage or wear and tear. Doing this now will save a lot of time next year. Any damaged sets should either be repaired or disposed of to save them getting mixed up with any working sets next year.
Once the lights have been checked and carefully coiled they should be kept in a cool dry, dark area that is rodent free.