These DIY permanent christmas lights turned out so great! I’m excited to share the tutorial with you.
Every Christmas, for a few years, my husband had suggested putting up permanent Christmas lights. We looked into having someone install them for us, and our bids were thousands and thousands of dollars.
So, we decided to try our hands at DIY permanent Christmas lights, and we are so happy with how they turned out!
These lights are a bigger investment up front, in both time and money. But we have found that they have been worth it to us. We love that we don’t have to climb on the roof in the snow every year to install our lights. Plus we think they look pretty cool!
We actually use these lights more often than just on Christmas. If it’s someone’s birthday, a holiday, or a special game night, we light up the house in colors to match whatever we have going on!
That’s the cool part of these DIY permanent Christmas lights- you use an app on your phone, so you can choose whatever color or pattern you want. So we have a different light show every night!
I was worried about what the permanent Christmas lights would look like in the daytime, but they actually don’t look bad at all! You can see them once you are close to the house, but you would never know they were there from the road.
How Permanent Christmas Lights Work:
Permanent Christmas lights are basically 5 different components.
- LED Lights: It would be nice if you could just buy a strand of LED lights, hang them up, and they’d work. But a string of LED lights doesn’t really do anything on it’s own.
- Power Supply: The lights need something to power them. So you hook the LED light strings up to a power supply that plugs into an outlet. Now your lights have power, but they don’t know what to do.
- Controller: The controller basically tells your LED lights what to do. It is like the brains of your DIY Christmas lights.
- Software: The software is usually an app that is installed on your device- likely your phone. You change the LED light colors, brightness, etc. on the software (or app) and it communicates with the controller, then the controller changes the lights.
- Hardware & Supplies: If you have all of the 4 things above, your lights will work and function, but you need some hardware and supplies to make them look really good on your house. This is the j-channel, screws, etc.
I am giving you basic information here, but for more in-depth technical information, follow the tutorial in this video by DR ZZs. It is very helpful!
How to install DIY permanent Christmas lights.
- Buy Supplies
You will need 12 v LED lights, a controller, power supply, j-channel, a 1/2″ drill bit, and metal screws. There are a lot of other things that really make the installation nice, but aren’t necessary. See the bottom of this post for links to other helpful items, hardware, and apps.
- Connect LEDs to Power Supply
Take your LED light string, and you should have 3 wires on the end- positive (red), negative (white), and data (either blue or green). They may also be labeled, so you know which wire is which.
You will attach the LED light wires to your power supply. Make sure you know which is positive and which is negative, because if you plug the wires in reverse, it will fry your lights, and you’ll have to get new LEDs.
These adapter connectors may come in handy for this connection process.
- Connect Data Wire to Controller
Now your red and white wires are connected to your power supply, you’ll need to connect your LED lights to your controller.
The controller is basically the brains of your lights. So you’ll want to connect the data wire to the controller. First, connect the data wire (usually blue or green) to a jumper wire, then connect the jumper wire to the D4 pin on the controller.
If you’re using 12v lights (which is what I linked), make sure your controller will take 12v (which is what I linked). If you are using other supplies than the ones I linked, make sure both the lights and controllers are either 12v or 5v. Otherwise, if your controller only takes 5v, you will have to use a 12v to 5v converter.
- Install Software
The software we like is the WLED software. This is the program (or app) on your device where you can choose colors, brightness, etc.
Install this software on a wifi enabled device- like your phone, tablet, or laptop. You can find it in the apple app store, or on google play for android.
- Copy Software to Controller
You will also need to install a program that will copy the WLED software into your controller. We recommend ESPhome Flasher.
This gets a little technical, so make sure to follow along with Dr Zzs on his video and blog post.
- Dry Run your LED Lights
Before you start drilling holes and attaching things to your house, we like to do a “dry run” of our system to make sure it works. We also like to play around with the software a little bit to make sure we are comfortable with everything before it gets too permanent.
So, just in your living room or garage, double check that your controller and power supply are properly connected to your LED lights. Check your that your positive and negative wires are correctly attached, and fire it up!
Play around a bit, and make sure things are good.
- Start Installing Permanent LED Christmas Lights
Decide where you want your lights on your j-channel. We decided to have our lights pointing OUT, rather than DOWN, so we drilled into the face of the J-Channel, but we have seen that a lot of people drill into the underside of the J-Channel, so their lights point downward. It is all personal preference.
- Drill Holes in J Channel
Drill holes in your j-channel with a 1/2″ drill bit. You will want the distance between the holes to be the same as the distance between your LED lights, in our case, it was 3 inches.
If you have a 3-d printer, you can print this little jig that will be helpful.
- Measure J-Channel to fit
Use your metal screws to attach the J-Channel to the house. You want to make sure the front of the J-Channel is flush with the front of your house.
- Attach J-Channel to House
PLEASE NOTE: Be aware of what you are attaching your J-Channel to. In our case, we attached it directly to the soffit with metal screws. Do not drill into rain gutters.
- Insert LED Lights
Insert LED lights into the J-Channel, and tuck the wires behind.
- Connect Multiple LED Strands
You can see in the photos, that when we were going from one roof line to another, we just ran basic extension wire, that way we didn’t have LED lights dangling between the roof lines.
We spliced wires together, then used shrink tubing to keep everything connected and tight. You could also use terminal connectors for an easy T-slice connection.
We hope you found this tutorial helpful. We would love to see how you installed these DIY permanent Christmas lights on your own home. Email me at Nat@thecreativemom.com
Supplies needed for DIY permanent Christmas lights
- LED lights: https://amzn.to/2IpiXfV
- Controller: https://amzn.to/39RRmzk
- Power Supply: https://amzn.to/3gqWsnd
Software & App:
- WLED software: https://github.com/Aircoookie/WLED/releases
- ESPhome Flasher Program: https://github.com/esphome/esphome-flasher/releases
- J Channel: homedepot.sjv.io/364gy
- 1/2″ drill bit: homedepot.sjv.io/kDxrx
- Metal screws: homedepot.sjv.io/gM3Yv
- Adapter Connectors: https://amzn.to/3lP6hMN
- Shrink Tubing: https://amzn.to/3gtL8qv
- Jumper Wires: https://amzn.to/36Qu4Ia
- Extension Wire: https://amzn.to/3n7fhP7
- Terminal Connectors: https://amzn.to/33RSa3s
- 12v to 5v adapter (probably not needed): https://amzn.to/36QDOlI
- 3-D printer jig: https://github.com/Snipercaine/Holiday-LED-files/blob/master/stl/LED%20channel%20jig.stl