Before contacting our Customer Services Department, please refer to our list of frequently asked questions.
What are Filament Lamps?
The original lamp which was invented by Swan and Edison in the late 1800’s. The basic principle has changed little since that time. It works by connecting a very thin tungsten wire, burning in a vacuum, across the electricity supply.
It produces a fairly consistent warm white light, but inefficiently as a huge amount of waste heat is dissipated during operation. In terms of Christmas lighting, the output is quite low with most ‘Lilliput’ bulbs being about 1 watt only. Miniature bulbs, such as those in ‘cone’ shaped lamps, are generally about 3 watts.
Filament lamps can be found in both mains (240v) and low voltage (24/36v) operated lights. They are not generally used in battery sets as the high current exhausts batteries very quickly. Low voltage sets require a transformer to step down the mains voltage. The size of sets is limited by the current capacity of the transformer which, to avoid overheating, has to be matched to the number and current draw of the lamps.
These lamps are quite reliable if well made, but are easy to make badly. In the vacuum is not complete the filament will overheat and burn out very quickly. If the ‘permanent contact’ or ‘bypass’ device (invented by Noma in the 1960s) is not correctly applied the passage of electricity through the lamp will be interrupted and the set will go out. This is endemic in sets for the US market because of the poor quality of their lamps. European lamps are better because we pay more for them and the reliability of the PC device is better.
Most low voltage lamps do not include a PC device or, due to the comparatively low current (compared to mains sets), it is not always effective. They burn much cooler and are more suitable for small or enclosed decorative shades.
Sets for the UK market almost always have a ‘fuse’ lamp incorporated in the set. This is, by convention, always coloured partially white to aid identification. The filament is slightly thinner than the other lamps in the light set and it doesn’t have a PC device, so if it fails the whole set goes out. This is to prevent run-away failures and overheating.
Generally lamps of the Lilliput and miniature varieties use screw-in or push-in lamp bases and are therefore replaceable.
Due to the emergence of LEDs (see below) the number of manufacturers of filament lamps for the Christmas lighting market is declining and finding good quality product is becoming quite a problem. Consequently the cost of same is increasing at the same time that LED light sources are becoming cheaper.
It is well known that high wattage filament lamps are being phased out across the EU. Christmas lights are deemed to be low wattage and ‘specialist’ and are therefore unlikely to ever be affected by this initiative.
What are Micro Bulbs?
These are very small lamps which have had a relatively short life as popular lamps for Christmas lights. They were originally found in torches and toys and adopted for Christmas lighting in the 1990s. They operate on the same basis as filament lamps above, but are a fraction of the size. They provide a gentle soft light from a light source that can be almost invisible on a tree.
They generally don’t have PC devices (although some of the better quality ones do) because the tiny lamp envelope doesn’t make application of the bypass wire consistently effective. However the lamps are generally more reliable than the Lilliput type lamps because the vacuum inside the lamp is better due to the micro size of the glass envelope, and the filament is relatively thicker.
These lamps are available in mains and low voltage styles with the mains ones being brighter. As with other filament lamps, the current is comparatively high compared to LEDs, and therefore the use of batteries to power such light sets is very limited. Low voltage micro sets often use very small lamps which can be quite dull.
Because of the size of the lamps it is usual to find light sets using the ‘hard wired’ style of construction rather than using a lampholder. This means that such sets are known as ‘non-replaceable’ as when the lamps burn out they cannot be repaired.
Micro bulb sets are being overtaken by similar LED sets, and will gradually cease to appear on retailers shelves.
What are LEDs?
LEDs have been around for decades and were mainly used as indicator lamps, and as an electronic component in radios and similar. In the mid 1990s Noma introduced the first battery powered LED light sets and over the next few years tried to introduce further LED light sets. Even as late as 1999 we were being told there was no market for them and people didn’t like the light they gave out; today almost 80 percent of the market is for LED lights!
LEDs don’t have a filament; rather they have a thin silicone chip made of many layers of micro thin silicone. As an electronic component they are very reliable and use a fraction of the amount of power that the equivalent filament lamp will use. Thus they are very suitable for battery powered operation. They are a fantastic move forward from the filament lamp and provide a bright, energy efficient light source at reasonable, and generally declining or stable, cost.
They can be susceptible to voltage surges or electrostatic discharges during the manufacturing process, and as they are on such a miniature scale (think of something smaller than the size of a ball in a ball point pen) accuracy during fabrication is critical.
Christmas lighting sets are almost all manufactured using the ‘hard wired’ (non replaceable) style of construction as LEDs are very reliable. They will, under laboratory conditions, last for thousands of hours, which for a light sets generally used at festive times of the year equates to many years.
The light output is very bright and vibrant. A whole new palette of colour has been created by LED lamps which is not possible with filament based lamps, including an ‘ice white’ colour.
In recent years an LED has been developed that mimics the colour of white light found in a filament lamp. The problem is that it is impossible to guarantee that every LED produced will always be exactly the same, so the ‘warm white’ LED covers quite a range of colour, from a ‘green/yellow’ white, through a ‘pink’ white to a ‘crystal clear’ light.
Without very tight quality control, and the understanding that this costs money, it is impossible for any light set to guarantee an absolutely consistent colour. Other LED colours are not so problematic, with the ‘ice white’ colour (introduced by Noma to the market in 1998) being a favourite particularly for outdoor use.
With the introduction of restrictions on high wattage filament lamps many manufacturers are looking to LEDs to replace these inefficient light sources with LED solutions. Whilst not completely the answer, they are fast becoming a sensible alternative. In the Christmas lighting industry they are now the de-facto standard product and have become well accepted by retailers and consumers.
Where can I buy spare lamps?
They can be purchased from your local stockists (check website for stockists in your area) or via the website www.nomadirect.co.uk Out of season spare lamps and accessories can be purchased directly from us.
Which replacement lamp do I need for my light set?
All light sets that have replaceable lamps will have a consumer code (which is a letter and a number in a circle such as W1, G1 or L3) on the specification panel on the side of the box. Otherwise there is a plastic durable label near the plug which will also give the consumer code.
If both these are missing please email us (email@example.com) with:
- the number of lights on the string
- mains voltage or low voltage (with a transformer)
- static, twinkling or multi function (with a control box)
- type of lamp (push in or screw in)
- if push in lamp the colour of the base of the lamp
- age of the set if known
I want to purchase some replacement lamps for my LED light set.
Unfortunately most LED light sets have non replaceable lamps. Some may seem to be removable, but we can not supply replacements as LED lamps should be hard wired into the set. Occasionally some sets will have the information about replacement LED lamps and these are available direct from us via the website www.nomadirect.co.uk using the lamp consumer code given.
I have a 20 or 40 outdoor mains voltage light set, which lamp do I need?
If the set has 20 lamps then you would need either a R1 or R3 lamp. If the set has 40 lamps then you would need a L1 or L3 lamp. The difference between the 1 and 3 is the age of the set. If the set is more than 10 years old it is probably a Great Outdoor light set which requires R1 or L1 lamp depending on the number of lamps.
If the set is newer then the set is probably a Harlequin light set, it requires a R3 or L3 lamp depending on the number of lamps.
My set of Christmas lights is not one of yours but I need spare bulbs - can I order them from you?
Our products have remained constant for nearly 30 years whilst many others have changed. Other manufacturer’s products are not compatible with our lamps and we do not stock their lamps.
The colour has faded from my outdoor lights - should this happen?
The paint technique has been improved to alleviate this problem, but all paint fades with light, heat and damp. It is impossible to guarantee that this will never happen.
I put in some new lamps and the old ones failed quickly. Why?
Please be aware that mixing new and old lamps can shorten the life of all lamps. If you are replacing more than a couple of lamps, or have a very old set, we suggest you consider replacing all the lamps at the same time (or buy a new set which might be easier). Christmas light lamp filaments slowly dissolve (just like the ones in your house) and as they get thinner they become more fragile. If they get knocked or are subjected to a sudden shock (such as a change in resistance due to new lamps in the circuit) they are more likely to fail.
Do I need a fuse in my Low Voltage set of lights?
No, fuse lamps are only required in mains voltage sets and act as a weak link, they are a secondary form of protection and only operate after a predetermined number of lamps have failed within the light set.
Can I use the same lamps on my Low Voltage set in my Great Outdoor/Harlequin set, as the lamps look the same?
No, the voltage of the Low Voltage lamps is different to the mains voltage and not compatible. Never mix lamps of different voltages.
I’ve ordered goods in error, what do I do next?
If your order has not been despatched, please contact immediately via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your order number and we will do our best to stop the order before being despatched. It will then be refunded in full to your payment method and you will need to place an order for the correct items.
If you have already received the goods or the order has been despatched, please return them to us with a covering letter stating that goods ordered in error and the order number. The order will then be refunded for value of goods only to your payment method. You will need to place another order for the correct items.
I have not received my order?
If your order was placed via the website, please log in to your account on Noma Direct and go to Account Maintenance and view order to check the status of the order. If the order has been despatched please allow a minimum of 7 working days for delivery especially in the busy season. If the order still fails to arrive, please contact us via email (email@example.com) to inform us of the non delivery.
What does ‘temporary outdoor use mean?
The sets can be left outside for a short period of time, i.e. over the Christmas period but not permanently.
Can my Mains Voltage Fairy lights be used outdoors?
No, but we do manufacture specific sets of Mains Voltage lighting for exterior use. Please see our web site for further details.
Can the Transformer be placed outdoors?
No it is not weather resistant, but it can be used in the Power Station (catalogue number 99PN2)
Can the Control Box be placed outdoors?
No (officially) but if well sheltered should be O.K.
The white/green connector on my low voltage light set has been damaged. Can I get another?
No, sorry this is factory fitted and we can't replace it.
I have put 3 x sets of Christmas lights into one plug, is that alright?
We would not advise you to do so. The plug will be over-full and there is an increased risk of danger.
Can I join 2 x sets of lights together?
No, it is dangerous to do so and the lights will not work properly, unless they are designed that way such as our Add-a-long Cone lights. Please see our web site for further details.
Where is the fuse lamp meant to be and does the set really need one?
The 'fuse' lamp (which is white tipped) is placed furthest end away from the plug and second lamp in. Some sets require more than one fuse lamp such as 80 Classic light set. Please ensure when replacing lamps that you replace like for like i.e. fuse lamp for fuse lamp.’ Fuse' lamps are only used in Mains Voltage sets and are there to act as a secondary form of protection and only operate after a predetermined number of lamps have failed within the light set.
Some of the lamps in my set are brighter than others, why is that?
This is known as "squirming", the set may be old, well used or have been mishandled, therefore you will find that one or more lamps are starting to turn black and fail or have failed, which puts strain on the remaining lamps causing them to burn brighter than normal. Also check that you have the correct voltage and wattage lamps in the set, as the wrong ones will affect the brightness.
Can I leave my Effect set on a timer; will it harm the control box?
The effect set can be left on a timer without damaging the control box, however if the control box has a push button controller it may default back to a different function and not the last one that you left it on.
Can I put more than one extension cable on my Low Voltage set of lights?
Each Extension cable is 10 metres long and anything up to three in any combination may be used, at any one time. Although with each extension cable you apply the set, you will lose some of the power to the lamps: therefore the set will not function as brightly.
NEVER use a low voltage extension lead on a main voltage set as it is highly dangerous. We make twin wire and multi-wire extension leads; the former extend all sets with a small flat connector with only two wires, the latter is a squarish connector with up to five wires for use with control box 'effects' sets like Snow Storm.
My light set is not working, what could be wrong?
All sets must be unplugged from the mains before any work is carried out.
If it is a mains voltage set and the whole set is out, please firstly check the fuse in the plug has not blown. If this is okay, then as long as there is no cut in the wire of the light set then the problem lies within the lamps. For mains and low voltage sets, if there is more than one failed lamp within the set, this could put the whole set out. The best way to test each lamp is to use a bulb tester (see 991001 (for main voltage sets) and 991005 (for low voltage sets) under accessories on the website) to find the failed lamp and replace as necessary. It may be more than one failed lamp in the light set.
Many of the longer sets are wired in sections, so it could be lamps failed within that section therefore you would need to follow the instructions above.
If all the lamps are working when tested on the bulb tester, it could be a contact wire at the base of the lamp which is twisted or broken and therefore not making contact in the holder. Ensure all wires are straight at the side of the lamp
If the set has screw in lamps whether mains or low voltage and all the lamps are working when tested on a bulb tester, then the contact in the base of the holder is either dirty or the contact is too low. If the contact is dirty it can be cleaned using methylated spirit and a cotton bud, then ensuring the lamp is tightened securely into the holder. If the problem lies with the contact being too low, then using a small flat ended screw driver, very gently lift the small metal strip in the base of the lamp. Replace the lamp ensuring that it is screwed firmly in the holder.
I cannot get my Mains Classic Twinkling set of lights to twinkle, I have replaced nearly all the lamps over the past few years - the lamp caps are all the same colour.
With Twinkling sets of lights the lamp cap colour is different on every other lamp starting the farthest end from the plug, this lamp cap should be RED, followed by a white tipped lamp, with a WHITE lamp cap, then alternate RED then normal lamp with WHITE lamp caps along the set.
I have a Twinkling set of lights that I do not want to twinkle any more; can I change the lamps to make it static?
If the set is Low Voltage then you will be unable to change it to static as the transformer is not rated to run a static set. If the set is mains voltage, the easiest option would be to replace the set with a static set.
Why do my bubble lights not bubble?
Bubble lights were invented in the late 1930s by Carl Otis and developed further by Noma in the US and UK after the war. They use a liquid with a very low boiling point allied to crystals of marble or similar to create a bubbling effect when lit. If you hold a bubble light lamp in your hand, the heat of your hand will bubble the liquid! A perennial problem is that sometimes the liquid does not bubble when the lamp is lit. You need to give it about a minute and if nothing happens then, a gentle flick to the bottom of the bulb will generally see bubbles appear. If the light bulb in the bottom of the bubble light phial fails, the bubble phial will needed to be discarded. Please note that the liquid, although heavily diluted, will stain clothing, carpets etc if allowed to come into contact with such items. Do handle with extreme care.
I have a set of clip-on candle lamps/Copperfield Oil lamps and one of the clips have broken. Where can I get replacements?
These can be purchased directly from us by emailing (firstname.lastname@example.org) , but are subject to availability.
Can I buy new shades for my set of lights as several have broken?
They can be purchased directly from us by emailing (email@example.com) , but are subject to availability.
Do your Christmas Light Sets have a guarantee?
If the set is within a purchase period of one year and has not been used for any other purpose than for what it was intended, upon receipt of the faulty item we will replace the set, if when tested, it proves to be faulty.
My new light set has already failed? What should I do?
if the light set has been purchased within a year; please return it to the retailer for a replacement or a refund, although most retailers will require a proof of purchase.
If this is not possible and the set was purchased within the last two years, please return it to us with a covering letter stating the problem and the age and use of the set.
My battery operated light set has failed already.
The LED lamps will not have failed: it is the life of the battery that is exhausted. Most battery operated sets have limited battery life due to the nature of the LED lamps. Some colours drain the batteries more quickly which is more noticeable on multi coloured sets. The average life expectancy of a good quality battery is approximately 25 hours.