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How To String Car Christmas Lights On Your Vehicle For The Holidays Or For A Parade

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By Curtis

You’ve seen it — every year at Christmas time, people decorate their cars festively to celebrate the holiday season. Car Christmas lights are becoming more popular each year.

Maybe you’ve decorated your vehicle in the past. Will you be decorating your car again this year?

Well, if you’ve <em>never</em> decorated your car in a Christmassy way before, following are some fun ideas to get you started.

Now is the time to decorate your car and create your own rolling Christmas display to brighten up the season and spread some holiday cheer to others you pass on the road.

Let’s start with what you need to know before stringing Christmas lights on your car…

DIY Car Christmas Lights

Of course, we’ve all seen the occasional vehicle driving down the highway with a Christmas wreath wired to the front grill:

But why stop there?

Technology has advanced to the point that creating a masterpiece of mobile colored lights is easy — and it’s not very expensive either.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is the fact that your car’s electrical system is 12V DC. It is not compatible with standard Christmas tree lights that are designed to run off household electricity!

Sure you can buy colored 12-volt rope lights or even some 12v led Christmas lights. The one big catch is they’re somewhat expensive, and by the time you’ve created your rolling display of car Christmas lights with enough lights to draw attention the investment can be sizable.

There’s a better way.

Yep, there is one way to use your existing 110v AC household Christmas tree lights on your car…

An Inverter Enables You To Use Household Christmas Lights On (Or In) Your Car

Simply buy a 12v DC inverter. It’s an electronic device that changes 12v DC electricity to 110v AC electricity.

Don’t confuse this with a converter. That’s an electronic device that takes 110v AC and converts it to 12v DC electricity — which is exactly the opposite of what you want to do.

I would recommend an inverter with a minimum of 400 watts for your car Christmas lights. And if you really want to make a show of it, bigger is always better.

My inverter is 1500 watts, and I wouldn’t consider anything smaller. Prices have dropped considerably. Where a 400-watt inverter may cost you $50 or so, the 1500-watt inverter can be found for about $125. 1500 watts is so much more versatile for other things, too. For example, you can run power tools and use your car as a mobile workstation.

Back to the task of finding Christmas lights for a car…

With a good-sized inverter you can go ahead and use any low-budget Christmas lights. Those after-Christmas sale lights from last year when you bought 20 strands for a dollar will work just fine. Any household light set designed to be used outdoors will work off your inverter.

This means that a fancy electronically controlled set — where the light chases back and forth or blinks different colors — will work too. You won’t find that ability with 12v DC automotive light sets.

CAUTION: Things To Remember When Stringing Lights On A Car

  • You’re dealing with 110v AC household current — it will harm or even kill you if not handled properly.
  • Water, snow, and electricity can be very dangerous. I recommend stringing 110v AC lights on the inside of your car or string lights on the outside of your car only during dry weather. Your safest option is to remove the lights whenever moisture is likely — during snow, rain, and sleet.
  • Keep children away from the wiring to avoid any shock hazard.
  • Local ordinances vary widely as to the legality of operating lights that could be considered a distraction to other drivers. Be sure to check with your local authorities before heading out on the road with car Christmas lights.

Other Fun Ways To Decorate Your Car For Christmas

When it comes to adding Christmas car decorations, maybe a less-is-more decorating approach is what you’re after.

A simpler version of Christmas car decorations – just car reindeer antlers and a big red nose on the grill. photo by zappowbang on Flickr

If so, then consider these Christmas decorations for cars:

Oh, and that 3-foot high plastic snowman or Santa Claus which normally goes in your front yard might make even a nice centerpiece on your car this year!

Just about anything goes when it comes to decorating your vehicle for Christmas — like this talking reindeer and this Santa and Christmas tree set-up on a truck:

Which Christmas Car Decorations Do You Like Best?

So, are you an antler person or a wreath person?

Neither? Then what’s your style when it comes to decorating your car for the holidays?

My personal choice is to go all out. If you’re going to make a statement, then you might as well be clear about it!

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