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Avoid unbranded Christmas light chains for safety sake - CHOICE #326

  • 2003.12.15

Consumers are strongly advised to refrain from decorating homes with Christmas light chains that come without a brandname or trademark, and proper markings.

The Consumer Council has sampled six of such unbranded light chains in the market and put them to a safety test to assess the quality of their construction, wiring and resistance to heat and fire.

None of the samples, according to the test, could fully meet the safety requirements of international standard.

The test found non-compliance in: the metal wires in the flexible cords were smaller than the required minimum area of 0.5 sq. mm posing risk of overheating; the lack of strain relief for the flexible cord could increase the risk of access to exposed live parts (if the cord could be easily pulled out from the lampholder) resulting in electric shock through accidental contact; and the use of basic insulated cords rendered the light chains more vulnerable to abrasion and damage.

Other less crucial problems: insufficient protection for the light bulb connections; light bulbs need excessive pull force to be taken out or are not resistant to twists; lampholders are not strong enough to withstand impact nor tough enough to resist heat and pressure or small flame; the cord from plug to the first bulb is too short.

Some of the light chains were found to still employ non-standardized two-pin plugs which could not fit, or just loosely plugged into normal three-pin socket outlet resulting in bad contact.

Consumers are advised to choose those Christmas light chains which are properly labelled with brandname or trademark, model number, rated voltage and power, and the double square class II appliance symbol indicating the product is of a double or reinforced insulation design. Consumers may choose products which bear claim of compliance with the international safety standard or Hong Kong Electrical Products Safety Regulation.

Other safety tips for domestic Christmas lightings:

  • Do not use if the flexible power cord or any light bulb is found damaged.
  • Avoid using them in an outdoor environment (unless allowed by the usage instructions).
  • Switch off or unplug while not in use, sleeping or going out.
  • Never modify light chains by connecting them together.
  • In decorating Christmas tree, they should be hanged on the main branches to avoid excessive bending or tension to the wiring. If real tree is used, beware of contact of moisture.

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