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Old 12th Aug 2012, 7:40 pm   #181
pifcolights
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Do you find shadeless lights as 'christmassy' compared with the shaded ones? For example do you think the multi-coloured lights look as festive without shades?
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Old 13th Aug 2012, 8:41 pm   #182
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

I remember being loaned out to all the neighbours and relatives every year to sort out their Christmas tree lights. It started when I was 13 and I had a huge old Avo CT38 valve voltmeter to lug around. A quick resistance check on each bulb was all that was needed and people treated it as magic. Amazing nostalgia. The Avo came from G3FIK, Alum Rock road, Alum Rock, Birmingham.£6-19-6.

Do Pifco still exist?

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Old 13th Aug 2012, 10:00 pm   #183
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Pifco do still exist though they only make shadless light sets.
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Old 15th Aug 2012, 12:19 pm   #184
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by pifcolights View Post
Do you find shadeless lights as 'christmassy' compared with the shaded ones? For example do you think the multi-coloured lights look as festive without shades?
For that "retro" Christmas look, it's got to be shades for me except of course on the "olive" or "cone" type of 20V 3W lamps.
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Old 15th Aug 2012, 5:37 pm   #185
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

I grew up with the Pifco Victorian lantern style lights and only saw shadeless lights appear in about the early 1990's.

So is the general opinion that those, like the retro look shadless coloured lights, don't look festive?
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Old 15th Aug 2012, 7:53 pm   #186
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

For the first ten years of my life our christmas tree lights were Pifco bubble lights.

Never thought I would ever see another set.

However 2 months ago I found a complete set.

Managed to find some 30 volt 3 watt mes lamps.

Oh what joy to see those lights again 50 years later.

I'll post some pictures as soon as I can.

Dave
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Old 21st Nov 2012, 5:49 pm   #187
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Hopefully someone can shed some light on the safety of mains filament bulbs, the ones that get hot. Some online places won't sell them as they say they are a fire hazard. Do they generally get that hot enough to cause a fire or is it just scaremongering? Surely if they were dangerous they would not be sold to the general public?
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Old 22nd Nov 2012, 12:36 am   #188
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

You don't get mains filament bulbs in Christmas lights (except maybe outdoor municipal sets with 25W bulbs spiked onto flat twin cable). The Christmas set bulbs are usually 3W or less which is comparable with a torch bulb.
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Old 22nd Nov 2012, 7:30 pm   #189
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

I know that about 12 years ago a friend of mine scrapped his set of 20 lights, they were the type that push in and each lamp was rated at 12v 1.1w.

They burned very brightly and the heat they generted actually melted the petal shades which became a horrible mess stuck to the bulbs.

They were nasty and cheap from one of those pound shop type places, I'm willing to bet that they were not brittish.

Cheers
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Old 22nd Nov 2012, 9:43 pm   #190
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

My set of 20 bulb lights rated 1.1w 12v get very hot! Hot enough to burn your fingers! @Herald mains christmas lights are of filament type and you can tell as you can see the fine filament wire inside the glass when the lamps are alight.
The micro lights seem to be cool to the touch and all low voltage seem to be ok.
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Old 22nd Nov 2012, 11:16 pm   #191
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

The 12v 1.1w bulbs happen to be W1 lamps, these are known to cause house fires if placed by tinsel.
I have a set of 80 white ones (4 channel) on a control box, these get very hot when on static setting, this is why they get used on twinkle instead, it halves the power to the bulbs.
I've also a set of 20 lanterns that get very hot when on, these get put off when I leave the room for obvious reasons.
Sadly, I may not be able to use the white ones this year as cats & glass don't get on!
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Old 22nd Nov 2012, 11:22 pm   #192
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

SWMBO produced a car-boot find a few days ago, 1930's 'empire made' olive-type lights in original box. (they're dated 1934 I think). They use cotton-covered rubber cable, the rubber has turned to powder and the cotton is shrunk back exposing a good 5mm of bare wire at the base of each holder. 'Don't plug them in like that' I warned, "until I've made them safe'....to be told they'd already been on a few times and 'they worked great'.
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Old 22nd Nov 2012, 11:28 pm   #193
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by eric8650 View Post
For the first ten years of my life our christmas tree lights were Pifco bubble lights.

Never thought I would ever see another set....
As a child, one of my friend's parents' trees had a set of bubble lights and I too never thought I would see another set but take a look here

(I have no association with the seller)

Andrew
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Old 23rd Nov 2012, 12:45 am   #194
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

@ glowing bits. You got me worried now as i have the Noma W1 bulbs and they do indeed get hot. I planned to use them on the tree this year but now knowing they do cause tree fires may buy led instead. Why do companies sell these lights if they are a fire hazard?
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Old 23rd Nov 2012, 1:01 am   #195
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by pifcolights View Post
@Herald mains christmas lights are of filament type and you can tell as you can see the fine filament wire inside the glass when the lamps are alight.
Some confusion here between mains Christmas lights and low voltage filament lights in a series string operated by mains, I think! Both types are filament bulbs but one is 240V each bulb in parallel with as few or as many as you like in the string and the other is anything from about 3v to 20V depending on how many in the series string.
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Old 23rd Nov 2012, 10:20 am   #196
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by pifcolights View Post
Why do companies sell these lights if they are a fire hazard?
Because it's not their premises that are going to burn down
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Old 23rd Nov 2012, 9:12 pm   #197
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

The 12 volt 1.1 watt lamps can indeed be a fire hazard under certain relatively rare conditions. Huge numbers are used and few fires occur, but few is not the same as none !

The lamps are very small for the wattage and get very hot, also they are often poorly made and the filament may touch the glass, which either shatters and exposes live parts, or remains intact and hot enough to ignite paper.

The often poor manufacture also results in some lamps absorbing a lot more than the nominal 1.1 watts, and getting even hotter.

The older type of 20 volt 3 watt lamp are arguably safer since they are much larger and therefore run at a lower surface temperature.

It is not so much the supply voltage that determines the relative fire risk, as the wattage versus the surface area, which determines the operating temperature.

240 volt 25 watt GLS lamps are low risk as they have such a large surface area that they run at a low temperature.
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Old 25th Nov 2012, 10:10 pm   #198
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Does this fire hazard only apply to the 12 volt 1.1 watt lamps or other sets such as 40's etc?

What light brands are best to buy in general? I generally buy the Noma UK make as you can always get spares but what about Premier, Konstsmide, Homebase own etc?

Any makes to avoid?
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Old 26th Nov 2012, 4:20 am   #199
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

I bought a couple of sets from a pound shop as they were cheaper than a packet of spare bulbs.
I just decorate a very large money tree with them. It has fleshy leaves that are very safe and the lights do not get hot enough to make the leaves go off colour.
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Old 26th Nov 2012, 9:54 am   #200
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

The sets of 40 lamps, each usually 6 volt 0.7 or 0.75 watt are a bit less of a risk than the sets of 20 lamps each 12 volt 1.1 watts.

The 6 volt lamps are often the same size as the 12 volt ones but of lower wattage and therefore less hot.

I would think twice about unattended operation near flammables though, just in case.
Different makes vary a bit in price, spares availability, and qaulity of construction, but the fire risk is mainly determined by the surface temperature of the lamp, which in turn is determined mainly by the size and the wattage, not the brand name.

Transformer operated sets are normaly safer, not due to the lower voltage, but because the lamps are almost allways of very low wattage (to reduce the cost of the transformer)

In years gone by, I used to buy very cheap lighting sets from pound shops.
I would modify these by adding extra lamps in series, usually 26 lamps each of 12 volts, or 50 lamps each of 6 volts in series.

FAULT FINDING TIP for these lights.
Most lighting sets of 20 lamps or more consist of 2 wires twisted together with all the lamps in series along one wire, and the other wire being continous from the last lamp back to the plug.
This long continous wire should be connected to the neutral of the mains supply, with the live connected to the first lamp.
A failed lamp or other open circuit is then easily found with a "voltstick" or similar non contact tester.
If however the long continous wire has been connected to mains live, then the voltstick will light at any point along the string due to the proximity of this wire.
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