Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mobile Christmas Lights

I have a confession to make: I've always wanted to decorate my car with lights at Christmas. When I was a kid there was a man in our neighborhood who drove an old surplus military jeep left over from the Korean War. Every Christmas he would decorate it with a couple strings of Christmas lights he rigged to the battery and off he went. We used to get a kick out of watching him drive around town with those big, brightly colored incandescent light balls glowing in the night.

Some 40 years later I'm still fascinated by the concept and would like to try it myself. However, I'm not about to use incandescent bulbs because they get too hot, use too much power, and break too easily. Thankfully, there's a solution in three chip LED light strips. Today's LED technology not only provides bright lights that look great, they're also much more efficient and safe to use than incandescent. And unlike Christmas bulbs of old, manufacturers are well aware of that people like me will use them for strange purposes. They accommodate us by enclosing them in tubing, providing flat strips with an adhesive backing, and other such creative things to help us make the most of them.

Hooking up the Electric

If I decide to do this for the coming Christmas my only real problem will be hooking up the electrical source. I admit I am not an electrical genius by any stretch the imagination. But I have a couple friends who worked in the field for many years; they'll be able to give me the right advice. I'll need to know how many three chip LED light strips I can put together, how to connect them to the car's electrical system, and how prevent an overload that could definitely ruin my Christmas cheer.

One thing I do know is that it won't be as simple as inserting a plug-in to a socket. I'm thinking some of the light strips I buy are probably going to need at least a minor modification; I'll let my electrician friends make that decision though.

If all goes well maybe there will be some seven and eight year olds looking out the window as I drive down their street. Perhaps I will inspire them to take on their own unique decorating ideas when they become adults. And who knows? By that time single and multi-chip LEDs may not even exist anymore. I doubt the incandescent light bulbs will still be around.

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