Modern marvels: vampire plugs

Keep these in your tool kit at all times

Too many random extension cords
Too many random extension cords

How many 100’ orange, pink and green extension cords are used in your Christmas display? How many times have you run a giant cord to power that one string of LED mini-lights? Ever used a 100’ cord when a 17’ one would do fine? Do you hate the color orange?

There’s an answer to your electric distribution challenge.

If ever there was a modern marvel in the Christmas decorating world, it has to be the little devices we call vampire plugs. Take a length of lamp cord, add a vampire male connector to one end, a female at the other and presto! You’ve created your own custom extension cord in just a couple of minutes.
18 gauge lamp cord is less than 20 cents a foot and vampire plugs are less than a dollar each. Factor in the time saved not searching for the right length of extension cord and you save money plus have a cleaner looking installation that’s easier to troubleshoot should there be a problem.

Vampire plugs
Vampire plugs

Pros never go anywhere without spools of green lamp cord and bags of green vampire plugs. Why green? Electrical inspectors see the green, think Christmas and immediately know they’re looking at temporary wiring for temporary seasonal displays so their standards are easier to meet.

But wait. There’s more! Pros cut a notch out of the back of female plugs so they can have in-line connectors. Think about a 25 foot cord with a female plug every three feet. Now that saves even more time and ugly orange extension cords when hooking up a row of lights on bushes.

There’s one note of caution. Orange extension cords might be ugly but they can handle plenty of power. Lamp cord is only 18 gauge so it’s wise to keep your load to less than seven amps (840 watts at 120 volts) and not over long distances. Use LED technology in your display? Lamp cord is perfect! We’ve seen pro displays using only green lamp cord and green vampire plugs to get power to the millions of lights.

Here’s a special hint: 18 gauge lamp cord is typically called SPT-1 or SPT-2 and has to do with the thickness of the insulation. SPT-1 is the thin version and SPT-2 is thicker and more durable.

Standardize on one wire size in your display and order the appropriate sized vampire plugs. Using the wrong sized wire in a vampire plug leads to frustration. Trust us. We know from bad experiences.
Where do you buy vampire plugs? Do an Internet search on “Vampire Plugs” and/or check the PlanetChristmas vendor list.

This article was included in the November 2010 issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine.

By Fred Garvin

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