Converting Light strings to 220V

 Download PDF File: Converting 100 count mini Incandescent Christmas lights to run on 220V


You are working with electrical products, be sure you feel comfortable doing such work. Never work on a light cord that is plugged in. Take every measure necessary to be safe. I give no warranty and take no responsibility what so ever to any damage to man or machine resulting from this tutorial.



In Switzerland we use 220V as our main power supply. One year I figured it should be possible to get the 100 count minis to work directly on 220V without the use of a transformer to slow down to 110V. After some research I found that from factory, the lights are configured in parallel of 2x 50 lights. Hence when one bulb falls out, only one 50 light section goes dark.

Since one bulb draws approx. 2.2V that means that 110V / 50 Bulbs = 2.2V. So if we now run the 100 lights in series of 1x 100 we get 220V / 100 Bulbs = 2.2V.

Upside is you can now connect 5 strings together instead of only 3 since one set draws less Amps. But if one bulb falls out the entire set goes dark. On the other hand for me it’s much cheaper than buying lights over here J

What I had to make sure of first, was that the wiring in deed was capable of withstanding 220V. Now I urge you to do this before you convert any string as this might change at any given time. Take a close look at the wiring. On the side of it you will see a printing on it stating the wire Gauge and the max. Voltage it can withstand. The current lights withstand 300V so I am good to go:


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Required Tools for the job:

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1) Shrink tubes ; 2) Small Zip Ties; 3) Masking Tape 4) Lighter or Heat gun; 5) Nail; 6) Wire cutters;
7) Bent Nose Pliers; 8) Soldering tin

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9) Soldering iron; 10) Third hand


Step 1:

So what we need to find now is the point where the lights are split up into the two 50 bulb sections, so namely bulb 50 and 51. They are usually pretty much in the middle of the bundle you have when it comes from the box, you can identify them easily as the bases are a bit wider than the standard bulbs and there are not two, but three wires going into them.



Step 2:

Remove the first bulb from its socket and set it aside.



Step 3:

On the underside you can see which of the two contact points has two wires attached to it. This is the one that you will want to remove from the socket since you will have to clip one of those wires. You can also sometimes see if from the top but mostly the bottom is easier.



Step 4:

You will now want to push the nail in between the sidewall of the bulb socket and the contact plate and gently pry it loose. You can then pull the assembly through the bottom of the socket.

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Step 5:

Now it is time to clip the first cable. In this case you would clip the wire that is leading towards the female plug of the string. The wire that you are NOT cutting will lead over to the other bulb (in our case bulb 50) with three wires connected to it. Clip it as close to the top as you can.

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Step 6:

Mark the freshly clipped wire with a piece of masking tape. You are doing this so you can identify it later on when you will be soldering the string set back together again.



Step 7:

Insert the wire with the contact plate back into the bulb socket from the bottom. You might need to wiggle it around a bit to get it up. If you push it out through the top, that is ok, it will help you position it when you pull it back down to lock into place. Sometimes you will need to use your pliers to gently push it back into its groves. Re-insert the bulb.

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Step 8:

Before going on to the next bulb, you want to locate the wire that goes past bulb 50 and 51. You can identify it by looking for the wire that passes by both of them and doesn’t go into their sockets. That wire also needs to be clipped. I marked the wire in orange in the picture, you can see it snakes by both bulbs without going into their sockets. No find the approximate middle between bulb 50 and 51 and clip that wire. Mark the left wire half with a piece of masking tape.

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Step 9:

Remove the bulb from bulb socket 50. Again check for the site with two wires like in Step 3. Remove it like in Step 4. Then clip the wire that is leading to the male socket of the light string, so away from bulb 51.

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Step 10:

Re-insert the wire with the contact plate like in Step 7. Re-insert the bulb.



Step 11:

Now all the cutting is done. We get to strip the wires and get ready for soldering. Strip a short part of the cut wires, just enough so you can solder two cables together. Do this for all four cut wires you have.

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Step 12:

Before we solder the wires together put a piece of shrink tubing over the wire pairs. We will be soldering the two blank green wires together, so over one of those two you will put a small piece of shrink tubing, and over the two with the masking tape also as those two will be soldered together. Push the shrink tubing out of the way if it gets too warm from the soldering iron it will shrink in place and you will not be able to move it over the solder joint.



Step 13:

Clamp the appropriate wire pairs in your third hand helper. Overlap the blank wires so that you can comfortably solder them together. Solder them. Remove and repeat for the second wire pair.

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Step 14:

After the solder has cooled move the shrink tubing over the exposed solder joints. DON’T shrink them yet. We want to first make sure everything went ok and test the light string. So after you have covered the blank solder joints, plug the light string into the power outlet. If all went well it will light up. If it doesn’t light up, check bulbs 50 and 51 as they sometimes don’t make 100% contact after the “operation”.

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Step 15:

Unplug the light set again and grab your Lighter or Heat gun and shrink the tubing in place over the solder joints. As you can see the wires are now pretty loose in the center as they are no longer twisted. Now take a small zip tie and just zip them together to keep them nice and tight.

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