Beware of risks posed by cheap Christmas lights


The Bligh Government has urged Queenslanders to resist the lure of cheap or second-hand Christmas lights because of the electrical dangers they can pose.

Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick said cheap lights bought from markets, garage sales or the Internet could appear to be a bargain but they were not worth the risk.

“Just like a Christmas cracker, you don’t know what you’ll get when you buy cheap or second-hand lights,” Mr Dick said.

“Play it safe and only buy Christmas lights that meet Australian standards.”

Mr Dick made the plea while launching the Queensland Government’s annual Christmas lights safety awareness campaign at Garden City Shopping Centre at Upper Mount Gravatt.

He said with Christmas approaching, the Queensland Electrical Safety Office was reminding the public to play it safe by only buying lights approved for sale in Australia and using them strictly in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.

The Electrical Safety Office is Queensland’s electrical safety regulator and part of the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General.

“Christmas can be an expensive time for families so cheap or second-hand lights can be tempting, but such lights can pose a very real risk of harm to people through electric shock or damage to property from fire,” Mr Dick said.

“Buying lights at markets or picking them up second-hand increases the risk of buying unsafe products.

“People also need to be wary about buying lights over the Internet from other countries as they often have different electrical systems and safety standards that do not meet our requirements.

“The Electrical Safety Office strongly recommends only buying lights from a reputable retailer and advises people to become well informed and know what to look for.”

In 2008, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Christmas tree lighting worth more than $10 million was imported into Australia.

Mr Dick said under Queensland’s electrical safety laws, it was illegal to sell decorative lights that do not meet strict Australian standards and have a certificate of approval.

“You should only buy lights with the proper compliance marking or labelling,” he said.

“Look for an approval number – such as ‘Q041234’ – or the regulatory compliance mark logo which indicate compliance with Australian standards.

“These marks must be on the lights and are usually found on a plastic tag near the plug or on the transformer if it is an extra-low-voltage type.

“They may also appear on the packaging. Familiarise yourself with these markings.

“If you have any doubts, ask the supplier for evidence of the product’s approval. If it is not forthcoming, take your business elsewhere. This applies to buying from a store or online.”

Mr Dick said if people did decide to buy or were given second-hand Christmas lights, they should have them checked by a licensed electrical contractor before using them.

“Each year in the lead-up to Christmas, inspectors from the Electrical Safety Office audit Christmas lights suppliers across the state to weed out electrically unsafe products,” he said.

“In 2009, the Electrical Safety Office audited 27 decorative lighting businesses and issued notices over seven items of unsafe lighting products.

“Inspectors have already begun random audits in the lead-up to Christmas this year to ensure lights being sold have been approved and are safe.

“Queenslanders can further protect themselves by following the simple safety hints for buying, using and storing decorative lights available free on the Electrical Safety Office’s website at or by calling 1300 650 662.”

Contact details

Media contact

Queensland Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister (07) 3239 3487