By Dave on December 4, 2006
Well, I did it. Almost a year after first learning about the LightKeeper Pro and posting about it, I took the plunge and bought one. With my own money, I might add; no marketing campaign freebies here, no siree.
I’m not big on decorating for the holidays — not like my neighbor down the block with the lighted windmill, lighted life-size Santa, sleigh & reindeer, and phony luminaries made from 40 watt lightbulbs and milk jugs, etc… (it’s really horrid!) — but my wife likes the icicle lights hanging from the eaves on our house, so I go that far.
A few weeks back I dug out the lights we’d used outside for the last two years, and found that of the five strings we had, only one section still worked! I know there were more lights on than that when we last used them! But, being the cheapskate that I am, I balked at going out & spending a bunch of money on five new sets, especially when they cost 6 bucks apiece!
My first thought was the LightKeeper Pro, but I didn’t act on it right away. The next day I happened to be driving by Ace Hardware, and the marquee advertised the LKP at $15. That settled it. I bought one. And it is absolutely everything they say it is.
The thing is as simple as can be; you unplug a light bulb in a non-working segment, plug that socket into the LKP, click the trigger a few times (up to 20 times according to the instructions) and in most cases the string will light up. As one of our super sharp commenters pointed out, it works by forcing the shunts in non-working bulbs to make contact, thus allowing the rest of the string or segment to work. You then replace the unlit bulbs with good ones, and you’re back in action. Beware though; the icicle lights I was fixing had 300 bulbs in each, and in one string I found over half of them were bad.
The LKP also has a handy-dandy built-in bulb tester to check the bulbs you put in to make sure they work. There’s a continuity detector that helps determine the location of a problem spot in a string of lights. Press a button on the LKP and wave it over the wire; if there is current flowing through the wire, the LKP will beep. When the beeping stops, you’ve likely narrowed down the problem to within a two or three bulb area.
While the LKP isn’t perfect, and there are some things I’d definitely change — the built-in pry bar for getting stubborn bulbs loose just plain sucks, and the position of the bulb tester doesn’t lend itself to using the tool with your hands full of a string of lights — using it is far better than throwing out a set of lights that don’t want to work. And if you’ve got a pre-lit tree or lights already strung on a tree, it’s definitely better to fix what’s there than to replace it.