I decided to wrap a 25' Elm tree (Ulmus USDA) in lights for this Christmas. I had somewhere around zero guidance and zero experience so I decided to write this up for the next guy. I have seen the occasional tree done up this way and liked it. On youtube I found Jerry's Tree (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG_iODz6e7E) which is magnificent.
I went to www.holidayleds.com/ and bought a case of warm white 5 mm LEDS with brown wire, so as to blend in better with the bark. I chose warm white as being more cheerful looking. Cool white would be more wintery and architectural. Each string has 70 LEDs with a 4" spacing, 70 LEDs per string, 23' lighted length. I used the palm of my hand as a nominal 4" measure as I wrrapped, so the space from each bulb to its neighbors is the same left and right or up and down. A case of 24 strings gave me a total of 552' lighted length to work with. The strings came tightly twisted around themselves to make them as small as possible for shipping. It took me around 5~10 minutes per string to prep them. Prepping included:
* Plug in to test. (they all worked)
*Standing on a chair and dangling one end so it could twirl freely while I untwisted it.
*Taping black electrical tape over the white labels.
*Squirting dielectric grease into the female sockets.
*Taping over the lower female socket with electrical tape as additional protection for the socket I thought might not be used.
*Rolling them into a ball with the female end in the middle.
*Tying them up with a wire and boxing them.
I did not pull out the fuses (every string has a 3 watt fuse inside the male plug) and grease them, because they are so small that I hate handling them.
One reason I chose this tree was that it was small enough to wrap without a cherry picker. I had a 6' stepladder, a 20' extension ladder, no helper. A helper would have made things go faster, a cherry picker, really faster. I found that I had to stop around 10' from the end of any given branch because they got too shaky to climb or lean a ladder against. Work got a little harder as I went along because every time I wrapped another branch I had to stop climbing on it. I picked October to put the lights up because I didn't want to be up there pushing snow out of the branches while I worked. I won't put them on until after Thanksgiving, because that would be tacky. I worked on two consecutive days and it ran around 7 hours up in the tree, which comes to less than a hundred feet of lights per hour. That they were cold days did not help. I wanted to wear gloves but had to keep taking them off to get the wires wrapped neatly.
$ 310 lights
$ 12 extension cord
$ 25 deer netting to wrap around everything within 8' of the ground, to discourage vandals.
$ 347 total.
Looking up into tree, day.
Looking up at tree, night.
Tree from a distance, day.
Tree from a distance, night.
In conclusion, it does look good, but the tree could probably hold two cases (1,100') of lights and look even better.