How do you light a 20-foot tree? How many lights do I use for a 20-foot tree?
You'd be surprised how often we hear this question and it's not always from Mall Managers and Park and Recreations folks. People across the US have REALLY BIG trees that they want to light up.
We heard this question from Rick up in South Dakota when he called in to ask what kind of lights to hang on his 20-foot evergreen.
We made a few suggestions, and he decided to make the leap to LED light bulbs for this year's project. He was kind enough to send us photos of his 20-foot tree and we're excited to share them.
If you have a large tree to light, this article will give you a place to start and a perspective of what "this many lights" looks like on "this big of a tree".
- 3 100-foot C9 SPT-2 C9 Christmas light cords
- 300 Multi-Color C9 LED Bulbs
- 3 Female Gilbert SPT-2 Plugs
- a cherry picker
- outdoor rated surge protector
- a licensed electrician (seriously)
- Since these lights are going to be installed for the season out in the weather, Rick chose SPT-2 Christmas light cord since it has slightly thicker insulations than commercial grade SPT-1.
- The cords were shipped with only male end plugs. Since low current LED bulbs are installed in this project, Rick's electrician opted to install a female plug at the end of one of the cords so it could be run in 200 continuous feet. The maximum distance you can run 18 AWG 10-amp rated wire is 250 feet. Using a single extension cord with a splitter, the single string or 100-foot was run starting at the top of the tree with the end of cord at the top then the cord was plugged into the extension cord about 1/3 of the way down the tree and the rest of the 200 feet of lights were installed. This easy T configuration for install is what we commonly suggest for all of our cords shipped with single male plugs.
- The lights were plugged in and tested often during install so any issues could be discovered during the process rather than becoming a surprise when the "switch was flipped".
(This may be one of our favorite customer photos. What a great setting. Love those clouds. We put South Dakota on our list of states to visit.)
But, I like traditional glass bulbs? What are my options?
If you like the look of incandescent or more traditional bulbs, perhaps painted vintage-style bulbs, they can be used just as easily in the style of cord used for this project. Just make sure not to exceed 80% of your breaker's rating or a 10 amp draw on your cord. Discuss these figures with your electrician.
Take a look at all of the C7 and C9 Christmas light bulbs and cords you can choose from.
Additional things to consider
Here are a few factors to consider when putting pen to paper to figure out how many feet of lights to order for your tree:
- tree width
- how tight you plan to spiral your lights (the distance between circles around the tree)
- your budget
- your electrical supply - if you choose to go with glass bulbs instead of LED
But my tree isn't exactly 20-feet tall. Any suggestions on where to start?
Wondering how many lights to put on your tree of a different height? Considering smaller LED or traditional Christmas mini lights instead?
Check out our How many Christmas lights should I put on my tree calculator.
It'll give you an idea of where to start.
Originally published October 27, 2017, updated on November 17, 2020