How to Install DIY Permanent Christmas Lights on Your House
Updated: Apr 29
Whether you're a Christmas fanatic or not, it's the most wonderful time of year! I love seeing Christmas lights in the winter and have been dreaming about how to install my own DIY permanent Christmas lights on my house for years. If you're interested in doing the same thing (and want some extra brownie points from the kids) then this blog post is for you! Especially if you want this to be the last time you hang Christmas lights.
In this guide, we'll be going over all the steps from planning out your project to what tools will be required throughout the installation process. We'll cover everything from safety precautions to how much it will cost when all is said and done for you to enjoy Christmas lights (or any holiday lights) year-round... so let's get started!
Table of Contents
Tools You'll Need
Ladder (size depends on your roof line)
Toolbelt to hold the tools you'll need while installing a metal track or to hold the multiple drills while you drill holes.
Tape Measure to get an idea of how many linear feet your roof line is.
Metal hand saw to cut the metal channels that house the wire and lighting that goes along the trim of your roof lines.
Scissors to cut the excess from the plastic LED channel covers once you're done installing the LEDs/lights
Light Setup Equipment You'll Need
Govee RGBIC Outdoor LED Strip Lights (Model: H6172) or other LEDs/lights you prefer
LED Aluminum Channel since aluminum won't rust, should maintain quality and will last the longest
Optional: Waterproof Junction Box (large enough to fit extension cables)
Optional: Extention cables
Optional: Outdoor Smart Plug/Surge Protector - great to protect your lights in case of a surge from lightning and to control from your phone
If necessary: Additional hardware (screws, channel clips, etc.) depending on your situation
Now that you've opened up a bunch of tabs in your search browser with different options... here's how you get started before ordering lights and doing your install.
The Pre-Work/Planning (building your own instructions)
Before you purchase your DIY permanent Christmas lights equipment you will need to measure out how much of the rope light you will need. Simply grab a tape measure, ladder, and someone to help and start walking around your house to measure the length of your roofline.
You may need to get on a ladder or even get onto your roof to check the distances. If you're not comfortable doing this, you can either hire someone to do it for you or see if there's a free trial of roofing estimate software to get these measurements.
After you have your measurements you need to plan where your power outlets are to see if you need an outdoor junction box or if you need a long extension cable.
Be sure to write down your measurements as you go... here's a list of the measurements, details, and planning you'll need:
Roof Line total distance in linear feet (broken out by roofline to plan for individual light strand distances) - This is for knowing how much to buy for the lights and aluminum channel rails... You might even fair better if you purchase these over a few years or during the offseason to avoid finding items on back order
Outlet/Power locations - this is for measuring where you'll need to run extension cables and place junction boxes to connect power to your LEDs/lighting
After you have all of the equipment, it's time for the fun part of setting up your own DIY permanent Christmas lights!
Setting Yourself up for Success
Before installing the aluminum LED channels for your DIY permanent holiday lights, you'll need to focus on where they will get their power. Focus on where you'll need to place your junction boxes and get those in place by screwing them onto the house in discrete locations.
Try to secure them to joists that you'll find 16" apart (typically these are ~16" on center for most homes). This may vary depending on what material your house is made of... My house was either plastic or aluminum siding connected via a J channel locking system with wood behind it.
Here's an example of the location where I placed my junction boxes:
Here's a close up of one of the junction boxes with the wires in place and screws to show how it was secured:
Once your junction boxes are in place and your power is set up, you'll need to get your aluminum LED channels up. SAFETY NOTE: While using a ladder, make sure you have another person with you to secure the ladder. Here's a quick video recap on ladder safety.
Next in the installation process, grab your plans on where you drew out where your rails need to go and it's time to get to work. Keep in mind the distance that each of your LED lights can go. Some LED lights (RGBIC) can NOT be custom cut... But they provide more color options. Other LED Lights (RGB) can be cut and installed easier but offer fewer "light show" options.
There are some YouTube videos that show the RGBIC lights being cut and still working, but there are risks with this as they may not function properly via the control unit on the lights or in the app.
Use your drill to first drill holes at the end of where a rail will go, then hold up the rail itself to measure where the middle hole will go, and finally where you will drill at the end tip of the rail.
This ending spot will be a "junction" point between the end of the installed rail and the beginning of the next rail. I noticed that these junction points make the installation more tedious... but ultimately made it easier to install the LED lights themselves and provided more stability. I had to do this since my rails came in 3.3ft lengths.
Here's a look at what the rail junction points will look like:
After you drill the holes, place your brackets and screw them in. Once all 2 or three brackets are up, place your rail where you need it so you can measure out the next rail. And... repeat until you get all of the rails up. You may need to use your metal hand saw to custom cut rails to size.
Keep in mind that you may need to adjust the screws you use depending on where you are installing them. I used a small bolt and nut to install a section of rails to a gutter. I also had to get longer screws from my local hardware store to install some rail brackets where I needed more security from the bracket to hold up the rail.
LED Light Installation
Now for the best part of all... the actual permanent LED Christmas light installation.
Before you start putting up the lights, make sure that you plug them in and run them through the junction box, and plug them into the smart plug.
The LEDs that I used had a 3M tape on the back that was perfect for sticking the lights to the rail. I installed the lights 3ft at a time... the rails came with a cover that will add protection and light diffusion.
They also act as a holder for the lights in the off chance that the sticky back comes undone over the years.
I would do each section at a time and stick the lights and then place the cover. This made it so that the lights could hang on their own as I moved the ladder to do everything in one swoop.
To help make sure the LED aluminum rails stayed together, I offset the plastic rail covers so that they overlapped the channel join locations. This means that I cut the first plastic cover in half and put it in place and then followed up with a full-length plastic cover... and so on.
One additional step that is optional... is to use some clear caulk to secure certain points that may need it. I used caulk on each of the bracket connections to the rails and on certain channel endpoints to prevent rain from entering. This additional step provided some peace of mind for some of the bracket connections where I noticed the rail wasn't as secure as I liked. (see below)
The best part... Light Programming!
This is the moment you've spent hours prepping for and dreaming of with your DIY permanent LED Christmas lights. Once the sun goes down and your install is ready, pull out your phone/controller and make sure all of your smart lights and smart outlets are connected to WiFi to start changing the lights up to match the season!