Can Outdoor Lights Cause Fire? A Canadian Perspective

Outdoor lighting is a popular way to enhance the beauty of our homes, especially during the festive season. However, a question that often arises is, “Can outdoor lights cause fire?” This is a valid concern, especially considering the safety of our homes and loved ones. This article will delve into this topic, providing insights from Canadian sources and tips on how to safely use outdoor lights.

Understanding the Risk

Outdoor lights, like any electrical device, carry a certain level of risk. However, the chances of them causing a fire are relatively low if they are used correctly and maintained properly. Solar fairy lights, for instance, can catch fire, but it’s a rare occurrence. The battery, wiring, and solar panels are parts of the solar fairy lights that can potentially catch fire, especially if they are not maintained well.

LED lights, which are commonly used in outdoor lighting, are generally safer. They consume less energy, emit less heat, and are less likely to overload an outlet compared to older incandescent bulbs.

However, even LED lights can cause problems if installed incorrectly. It’s not just the lights themselves that can cause a fire. It is also the wiring used to connect to the circuit3.

Safety Measures

Regular Inspection and Maintenance: Regularly inspect your outdoor lights for any signs of damage. This includes checking for any burnt-out bulbs, frayed wires, or loose connections. If you find any issues, it’s important to address them immediately. For instance, replace any burnt-out bulbs as soon as possible to prevent overheating. Similarly, repair any damaged wires to avoid electrical shorts that could potentially lead to a fire. Regular maintenance also involves cleaning your lights to remove any accumulated dust or debris, which can also be a fire hazard.

Proper Installation: Ensuring that your outdoor lights are installed correctly is crucial in preventing fires. This involves not overcrowding the lights or placing too many on the same outlet, which can lead to overheating and potential fire hazards. It’s also important to ensure that all connections are secure and that the lights are installed in a way that prevents water from getting into the electrical components. If you’re unsure about how to properly install your outdoor lights, consider hiring a professional to do it for you.

A row of led lights on a hedge at night.

Use of LED Lights: LED lights are a safer option as they emit less heat and consume less energy compared to traditional incandescent or halogen bulbs. They are less likely to overload an outlet, reducing the risk of fire. However, even LED lights need to be used correctly. Make sure not to exceed the maximum wattage recommended for your lighting fixture, as this can cause the LED lights to overheat and potentially cause a fire.

Avoid Combustible Materials: Keep your lights away from flammable materials like fabrics, paper, or flammable liquids. These materials can easily catch fire if they come into contact with a hot bulb. Also, avoid placing lights near trees or shrubs where dry leaves could potentially catch fire.

Heat Dissipation: While LED lights do not get hot enough to start a fire on their own, the risk increases when an outlet is overloaded or when there are damaged, exposed wires or open bulb sockets. Ensure that your lights have enough space around them for heat to dissipate effectively.

Wetness: If you are using lights outdoors, ensure that they are rated for outdoor use and plugged into a waterproof and outdoor-rated extension cord. This helps to prevent water from getting into the electrical components, which could cause a short circuit and potentially a fire.

Usage Restrictions: Do not plug too many light strings into one wall socket. The circuit may not be able to handle the electrical load and could blow a fuse or spark, leading to a fire. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions for the maximum number of light strings that can be safely connected together.

Battery-Powered Lights: Battery-powered LED lights are a great option if you are nervous about plug-in lights being fire hazards or if you cannot safely use other LED string lights. These lights are powered by batteries and do not require an electrical outlet, reducing the risk of electrical fires. However, it’s important to use high-quality batteries and to replace them regularly to ensure the lights function safely and effectively.


Outdoor lights can potentially cause a fire, but the risk is minimal if they are used correctly and maintained properly. By following the safety measures outlined above, Canadians can enjoy the beauty of outdoor lights without worrying about the risk of fire. Remember, safety should always be a priority when dealing with electrical devices.

Curb Wise