Christmas lights add sparkle, color, and shine to the holiday season. Yet estimating the number of Christmas lights you need to decorate your home can be difficult. House eaves, columns, peaks, windows, and other architectural features are too large to easily calculate. But there are a few rules-of-thumb and guidelines that help you buy the right number of lights to avoid blank spots or overloading the home with too many lights.
Number of Christmas Lights for Most Houses
If you want Christmas lights on your home displayed in that classic manner—on the eaves' fascia—purchase the following.
For Front Only
Use two strands of 32-foot mini lights, for a total of 200 lights, for either an average- or small-sized house.
If you prefer the larger-bulb C9 lights in 16-foot lengths, double the number of strands. So, you would use four strands of C9s, for a total of 100 lights.
The C9 strands come with a quarter to half as many bulbs as the mini lights, depending on length. Though fewer in number, C9 bulbs are far brighter than mini lights.
What Are Eaves and Fascia?
For Front and Two Sides
- Average House: Use four strands of 32-foot mini lights, plus two strands of 14-foot mini lights, for a total of 500 lights. For C9 bulbs, you can use 10 of the 16-foot-long strands.
- Small House: Use four strands of 32-foot mini lights, for a total of 400 lights. For C9 bulbs, use 7 of the 16-foot-long strands.
If the front or sides have large architectural details like awnings, cupolas, and gables add another 10 feet per detail.
An average-sized, newly constructed house is about 2,300 square feet. A small house is approximately half that: 1,200 square feet. For both houses, the length of the front is calculated at 50 linear feet. For the small house, each side is assumed to be 24 linear feet. For the average-sized house, each side is assumed to be 46 linear feet.
Popular Christmas Lights and Coverage
|Type (Single Strand)||Average Length or Area||Number of Lights|
|Mini strand lights||14 feet||50|
|Mini strand lights||32 feet||100|
|Mini icicle lights||26 feet||300|
|Large C9 style bulbs||16 feet||25|
|Mid-size C7 style bulbs||24 feet||25|
|Small C3 style bulbs||18 feet||50|
|Net lights||4-foot by 6-foot||150|
|Net lights||2-foot by 8-foot||150|
How to Calculate How Many Christmas Lights You Need
Calculate the number of Christmas lights needed to decorate your home by first measuring your home, then adding outdoor features.
- Measure the length of the front of your house (that is, the width of the house if you are looking at it from the street). Use a laser measuring tool or a tape measure.
- If you want to cover the left and right sides, measure those, too. The back section of homes is typically not covered, but you may decide to do this to add holiday cheer to your deck, patio, or backyard.
- If you want to cover the upper portion of triangle-shaped roof peaks (4:12 pitch ratio), this length will be 26 1/2 feet for each peak. This is based on a house that is 25 feet long on the side.
- Select the number of outdoor features desired and add them together.
- Add a foot or two to all of the strand (not net) light measurements. Christmas light length is expressed in two numbers: strand length and lighted length. The lighted length is always about a foot less than the strand length.
Number of Lights Needed for Outdoor Features
- Bushes and Hedges: One to two 4-foot by 6-foot light nets per bush or hedge.
- Trees: One 32-foot strand (100 lights) for every 1 1/2 vertical feet of an evergreen tree; or, about 500 to 600 lights for an 8-foot tree.
- Windows: One 16-foot strand per single-width window.
- Doors: One 16-foot strand per door.
- Window Boxes: One 14-foot strand of 50 lights per window box.
- Columns and Pillars: One 32-foot strand of 100 lights per 7 vertical feet of column or pillar.
- Deck Railings: Measure the deck railing and use that measurement to determine how long the lights should be. If you plan to wrap the lights rather than use clips, you will lose about 1 foot. So, add an extra foot.
Do you want tighter light spacing? One easy way to do this is to double the lights back. Adjust the second run so that its bulbs fall between those of the first run. Just make sure that your outdoor GFCI outlet and circuit can handle the increased load.
Number of Lights for a Christmas Tree
Underestimating the number of lights on the Christmas tree results in a dark, drab tree. Too many lights overloads the tree and detracts from ornaments and the tree itself.
The easy rule of thumb is to use one strand of lights (100 lights) for each vertical foot of the Christmas tree. If you like a slightly brighter tree, you don't need much more: Just add one more strand.
|Tree Height||Average Number of Strands||Strands for a Brighter Tree|
|4 feet||4 strands or 400 lights||5 strands or 500 lights|
|5 feet||5 strands or 500 lights||6 strands or 600 lights|
|6 feet||6 strands or 600 lights||7 strands or 700 lights|
|7 feet||7 strands or 700 lights||8 strands or 800 lights|
|8 feet||8 strands or 800 lights||9 strands or 900 lights|
Characteristics of New Housing. United States Census Bureau.
“Deck the Halls” Safely: CPSC Estimates More Than 15,000 Holiday Decorating Injuries During November and December. United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.