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Tiger Dyne

Replacement Bulbs Voltage

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This has puzzled me for a couple of years. I have strings of incandescent lights that are wired in 50 light circuits. It seems that most of the light sets sold are also in 50 light circuits. Lowes and Home Depot only stocks replacement bulbs that are 2.5 volts - I assume these replacement bulbs are for the light sets that the store stocks - which all seem to be wired in 50 light circuits.  When I replace the bulbs in my light sets the new bulbs are very dim - barely lighting up. I figure 120 volts divided by 50 lights is 2.4 volts - so I would assume the 2.5 volt bulb is close enough. But the replaced bulbs look like they are starved for electricity. Just for grins I tried a 6.5 volt bulb in the 50 light set. It lit up about the same as the 2.5 volt bulb.   I barely remember Ohm's law - so I might be missing something. Anyone have insight on this?

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The short answer is it depends on how the string is wired!  There are many different ways and means to how light strings are or can be made.  Voltage divider or double circuits, multiple branches, and more all add to the "fun" of just trying to replace a burned out bulb at times for sure.

Take a look at Betty's Christmas House light list.  There are 2.5, 3.5, 5, 6, and 12-volt bulbs listed on there alone!

I have some that take 12-volt bulbs, some with 2.5-volt bulbs, and a few with 6-volt bulbs in them.

I think sometimes that there are people who engineer these things that really try to "think outside the box" and make it a bit tougher on those of us who know Ohm's law but wonder how in the heck did they do that (or maybe WHY in the heck did they do that)!

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Oh I once shared your pain!  The only conclusion I could come up with is the addition of all these "energy efficient" light strands they are using a different watt bulb.  Like using a 40 watt or 60 watt bulb in your house....they both run on 120V.  My guess is the new replacement bulbs are a lower wattage 2.5V bulb to save energy.  The only solution I had was to sacrifice strands and use them as replacement bulbs until the wife complained about all her broken nails and gave me the checkbook to replace them with LED strands. 

Bill is right, some of the strands have odd wiring.  However, I had a whole slew of pathway markers that needed 3.5V bulbs and I never found any of the replacement bulbs that worked.  

Edited by qberg

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These lights are wired in series.  Most have two circuits within the string.  If you look closely all of the lights except for four have two leads.  The lights with three leads are one at each end and two at the center to divide the circuit into two parts.  If you don't tear off the little tag at the plug end of the light it will tell you exactly what voltage the replacement light should be.  If you use one that is lower, it will burn out faster and one that is higher will make that part of the string dimmer.  Yes, 3.5V light are hard to find.  I have two old lighted displays that use them and each one has a bulb that is out.

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I have a mostly incandescent display with the majority Home Depot 300 count strands and a few 100 count strands. The bulbs are not interchangeable as the 300 strand draws .67 amps versus .35A for the 100.  After Christmas I buy lights for next year mostly for display but do sacrifice a few strands for spare bulbs. I have separate bins for each and replace dead bulbs as I hang them. 

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