How To Change a Fuse in Christmas Lights

Updated: Jan. 28, 2024

Don't let unlit Christmas lights ruin your holiday. Change the fuses instead.

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Time

15 minutes

Complexity

Beginner

Cost

Less than $10

Introduction

Every year, it's the same story: You haul out the Christmas string lights to decorate the tree or the house, and one of the strands doesn't work. (Hopefully you found that out before you put them up!)

Christmas lights don't have to be disposable. Instead of running out to buy new ones, did you know you can change the fuses instead?

Fuses are an overcurrent device, like a circuit breaker, but they can't be reset like a tripped breaker. If a fuse blows, you have to replace it.

Electricians like me always have a few of these tiny fuses rolling around in a junk drawer. Christmas lights also come with them, if you remember where you stashed them. If that's not in the cards, find a pack of five fuses for less than $10 at a home center or hardware store.

Here's how to change the fuses in a string of Christmas lights.

Tools Required

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Small slotted (flat) screwdriver

Materials Required

  • Christmas light (3-amp) fuses - 2 per strand

Project step-by-step (6)

Step 1

Unplug the lights

  • Remove the plug from the wall.
  • Check both ends of the light strand. Remove other lights attached to the strand.
  • Examine the strand for broken bulbs or a frayed cord. If these are present, the fuse may not be the problem.
Step 2

Find the male end

  • Look for the end with the two plug prongs.
  • Fuses will always be in the male end of the string.

Unplugging the switchAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 3

Open the plug

  • Find the fuse compartment within the plug. Look for the directional arrow pointing toward the prongs.
  • Fit a small screwdriver into the slot that says “OPEN.”
  • Push the screwdriver in the direction of the arrow.
    • This may be difficult. Push away from your hand to avoid injury.
    • I had luck bracing mine against a table.
  • Once open, leave the compartment door attached to the plug. Don’t force it off.

Opening the PlugAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 4

Remove the fuses

  • Stick the screwdriver underneath one fuse at the cord end of the plug.
  • Pop up the fuse end with the screwdriver.
  • Grasp the fuse with the needle-nose pliers and pull out the fuse.
  • Repeat with the second fuse.

Removing the fuse Ally Childress for Family Handyman

Step 5

Install new fuses

  • Insert one new fuse into the compartment at a time.
    • I dropped mine multiple times. They’re tiny and slippery, so keep track of them!
  • Slide the fuse into the plug end first as far as you can.
    • There is no top or bottom, so it doesn’t matter which end is up or down.
  • Push down on the other end to snap it into place, using your fingers or the pliers handle.
  • Repeat with the other fuse.

Installing new fusesAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 6

Close the compartment

Closing the compartments of the switchAlly Childress for Family Handyman