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What the Tech: The gadget that makes repairing Christmas lights a breeze | News




Christmas lights come on homes and even trees earlier and earlier each year.

Before you pull out those old strands of lights, you might as well prepare for the inevitable: some bulbs won’t work. Incandescent tree light sets are often not well made and during storage the bulbs can be broken or their wires can come loose inside the socket.

If you’re in charge of setting up the tree with lights, you probably know that one bad bulb can ruin the whole thing. If you have ever plugged in a bundle of lights only to find one section actually lit, the reason is that there is a problem with a light bulb. A bad bulb breaks the circuit, preventing the lights on the other side of the circuit from turning on. In the past, you had to try to find the bad bulb by unplugging and plugging the bulbs back in. Now there is another way – a tech gadget called The Lightkeeper Pro.

I bought one at a hardware store for about $22 to test it out. Here’s how it works:

  • When plugging in the light set, remove one of the working bulbs and place the socket into a slot in the Lightkeeper Pro.
  • Pull the trigger to send an electrical pulse through the strand at such speed that it jumps past the faulty bulb (wherever it is). All lights should turn on except the bad bulb.
  • Replace the bulb you removed for testing, replace the bad bulb with a good bulb, and watch the strand light up from end to end.

This method almost always works, but the Lighthouse Keeper Pro has a built-in backup just in case. If you encounter a problem, the gadget beeps to help you identify where the circuit is broken. Simply click the trigger on either side of each bulb. When there is no beep, you have found the wrong bulb that is breaking the circuit.

The original Lightkeeper Pro only works on incandescent bulb assemblies. The company also has the LED Keeper for diagnosing and repairing LED light assemblies.