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grasswhisperer

Does Frontgate not use standard Christmas tree replacement bulbs??

8 years ago

So we just bought a used (Craigslist) pre-lit Christmas tree made by Frontgate. It looks great. I assumed we would need to deal with unlit bulbs, non-working strands, etc. I do have one of those Light Keeper Pros and it is definitely awesome - but there are probably at least 50-75 bulbs I need to replace on this tree. I had also just assumed that these classic, mini light bulbs are standard (I'm talking the actual bulbs and exposed wires themselves - not the plastic base, which I don't think I've ever seen the same design twice).

PROBLEM IS - the bulbs on the Frontgate tree have a slight bevel on the base (where the wires protrude from the glass bulb - see pic). In short, I cannot fit a "standard" replacement bulb in the Frontgate plastic base. I have thousands of bulbs from other various strands of lights we've collected over the years. and just tonight made a trip to Walmart and some other stores to see if the bulbs vary at all. They don't. They are standard, just like in the picture. But not the Frontgate bulbs.

I had no idea Frontgate had some sort of proprietary shape to their bulb. This is disappointing as I now can't replace any of the unlit bulbs on the tree, rendering the tree pretty much pointless in terms of being pre-lit. What a Christmas bummer.

Any advice? Am I missing something?

Thanks much!

PS - not sure if this is the best Houzz forum to use - but please direct me to a better one if available! :)

Comments (85)

  • 3 years ago

    Slotted or pinched base bulbs are available on Amazon and Ebay, several manufacturers and sellers. And yes, you Must match the volts and amps of the bulbs, or more and more bulbs will burn out. Having this problem with a tree from Sterling, and other light sets also need them

  • 3 years ago

    Does anyone have any idea where to find a compatible BASE? I figured out the bulbs on my own (wish I had found this thread sooner though :D)


    But I‘ve lost a few bases that went flying - sure, they’re probably in the tree, but the tree is presently decorated so trying to get some spares.


    Anyone found something that works?

  • 3 years ago

    From whoever made the light set, or the tree. Otherwise, you just have to put the new bulbs into the ones you have.

  • 3 years ago

    yes. I understand how this generally works.


    the issue is Frontgate doesn’t sell replacements anymore - and the base isn’t a standard one that you can find


    these appear to be an older version of the ”perm o snap” base from Bethlehem Lighting (they made the lights on the Frontgate trees I am pretty sure)


    But I can’t “put the new bulbs into the ones I have” because I am MISSING a few - so right now one whole strand can’t be used because I’m short 3 bases.

  • 3 years ago

    okay I'm reading all the suggestions and just received my order of replacement bulbs from Amazon. I put one in and it did not light up. Is there a special way to put the bulb in? I just took the old bulb out and stuck the replacement bulb in. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  • 3 years ago

    There is no special way to put the bulb in it‘s base apart from making sure the wires are not twisted. They have to be straight into the base and then bent over exactly like the originals. There is lots to trouble shoot but first check the wires.

  • 3 years ago

    @angiefurbee are you replacing a single dead bulb in a working string or a dead bulb in a string that doesn’t light up at all?

  • 3 years ago

    Get the Light Keeper Pro gun at Home Depot. It will reconnect the circuit in your section of lights that are out and all will come on but the burnt out bulbs. We had several hundred lights out in different sections and all are lit now! Thought it was a gimmick but worked great and for several others I have recommended it to. Kept us and others from buying a new tree!!

  • 3 years ago

    There are about 100 out! It first started with one section , then another and another. I took out several bulbs after reading the other posts. Very tedious and gave up! I started pulling the strings of lights and planned on just getting new strings of lights.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    I second the Lightkeeper Pro!! Its a seasonal item at Home Depot but can be ordered online. I picked up one at a Tuesday Morning being very skeptical but the price was right. Oh my I am so glad I did. This little device is nothing short of a miracle. it‘s saved tears and hours of frustration - not to mention cost of replacing a nice garland!! I’ve given them to friends and they love them! Watch the videos on the lightkeeper pro website. Really it works.

  • 3 years ago

    Can I have your old strings If you DO pull them out?


    if you’re going to try to fix them, I just went through this and have some tips.


    First though, let’s talk about why whole strings fail and how to avoid it in the future (my tree has 3 out, waiting to get fixed).


    The whole string goes out when the shunt on a dead bulb fails. The shunt fails usually when the bulb gets too much voltage. The bulb gets too much voltage when too many bulbs on the string fail.


    Each bulb is rated for 2.5 V, each string is 50 bulbs or 125 V - since we typically have 110-120 V power in the US each bulb only gets about 2.2-2.4V which is fine, they light up and last longer.


    When one bulb goes out it isn’t a big deal, the rest of the bulbs will start getting 2.24 V, under the rating. The bulbs life span will be shortened a bit as voltage goes up and older bulbs are more likely to die from the voltage. When 6 bulbs are out you’re now at 2.5V exactly, still mostly ok.


    But once you start losing bulbs 7 and up you’re headed towards catastrophic failure. What happens is a bulb dies setting off a cascade of higher voltage - it can easily burn out most of the bulbs in a string.


    So, for the future, keep spares on hand and replace dead bulbs as soon as you find them. I learned all of this the hard way and spent hours replacing bulbs - over 300 so far.


    Unfortunately, there’s a good chance you will need to replace a lot of bulbs on the string to get it to light up.


    There are two strategies that helped me.


    Quick and Lazy


    Look at the bulbs. If they look blackened/silver (see the pic at the start of this thread) replace them with a new bulb. Keep going until the strand lights up and then replace any other bulbs that don’t light up.


    Slow and Thorough


    You may not have a choice to go this route if the lazy option doesn’t work.


    Find the plug for the string and disconnect it from the rest of the strings. Plug in an extension cord to the wall and plug the one dead string into it - unplug everything else.


    You’re going to need a non contact AC voltage tester - if you’ve got the light keeper pro, it has one built in - you can get one at any home center. Whichever you choose, start by testing the extension cord and making sure it beeps. Trust me, you want to be certain your tester is working. Once you confirm it is working run it down the strong starting from the plug. Where it stops beeping is a bad bulb, replace the bulb and the bulb should beep. If it does, go to the next one.


    Tracing the string is challenging, it is wound up in the branches and starts in the center. Each string on my tree starts and ends on a branch. There might be one level where they run middle to middle of a branch. The best thing is to just follow the wire with your fingers.


    With luck you’ll find and fix enough bulbs to get it back on so you can find the rest more easily.

  • 3 years ago

    Wow that was thorough. Thank you both! Ugh... tree is still up half lit! I’ll keep you all posted!

  • 3 years ago

    So.... the husband is suggesting to take all the lights off and replacing all with led, then plugging into the remote... thoughts?

  • 3 years ago

    It should work assuming the LEDs are setup as standard AC powered strings. They'll likely have more bulbs per string (and be longer) and the spacing may be different. Its about as much time to fix the tree as it is to restring it (nicely).


    LED bulbs can still fail, but the advantage is that they fail by shorting out, leaving the power free to run through the dead LED. Getting replacement bulbs will likely be difficult if not impossible - so buy an extra set or two to use as spares.


    LEDs are highly variable when they are made with regard to color - the LEDs were probably binned for the set - meaning that all the LEDs in one string should be close in color - but two different strings might not - so before stringing the whole tree, get your LEDs in a dark room and make sure that all the strings look about the same. You may nee to use 1 string as your master reference string and compare all the others to that one - depending on how many LEDs you go for it could be too bright to light them all at once ;)


    And seriously, if you're getting rid of your old Frontgate lights I would love to have them if they're the same style bulb holder as mine - I need spares :)

  • 3 years ago

    @jasongoldsmith we ended up taking all the lights off the tree as too many were out. We waited too long to begin replacing and it was too daunting. I saved two boxes. Let me know if you still want them

  • 2 years ago

    @Jason Goldsmith I have a box full of the old lights from our Frontgate tree. I ended up taking all off. Let me know if you want them. Otherwise, I'll throw them away!

  • 2 years ago

    Another question regarding lights…but I cannot find my remote control anywhere! And it looks like Frontgate no longer sells replacement remotes. Any recommendations? Can I use a non-Frontgate remote control?

  • 2 years ago

    Any remote wireless system will work. I found one shaped like a Christmas tree that I use every year just for my tree.

  • 2 years ago

    Also for all of you that have sections of lights that are out on your tree, get the Light Keeper Pro. it is a tool that enables you to reconnect the circuit in the sections of lights that don’t work and they all come on except the ones that are burnt out. I thought it was a gimmick but saved my tree. Every year there would be another section of lights out. Last year there were @ 400 lights out on my 1800 light frontgate tree. Now every light on my tree works! It saved me again this year. I have seen them at some of the big box stores and also on line. it is worth the money!

  • 2 years ago

    And with the light keeper pro you just take any one bulb out of the unlit section and place the socket of the light into the gun and click 2 or 3 times and all lights come on except ones burnt out. There are usually 4 or 5 you have to replace in each section but it is quick and easy!

  • 2 years ago

    Thanks for this helpful thread. Any help on finding replacement bulbs for Frontgate prelit hanging wreaths. There seems to be a little notch at top where bulb goes into socket. Can’t find replacement bulbs anywhere. Thank you.

  • 2 years ago

    lvcromarty check https://612vermont.com/replacement-bulbs/mini-replacement-bulbs/, Just make sure you have the proper bulb shape / voltage / amperage ( wattage ). or the bulb with either work normal;y , glow dim , or burn out . maybe contact 612Vermont if you are not sure , They may be able to help you avoid getting the wrong one

  • 2 years ago

    I am very thankful for this thread! Thank you to all who have posted!! Like Jason Goldsmith, I too, am need of compatible BASE(S). Has anyone found anything that works?

  • 2 years ago

    @Angie Furbee … do you have the bases for the lights you took off your tree?

  • 2 years ago

    Hey, i didn't hear back from the other fellow i was communicatong with, so I threw them all away. im so sorry!

  • 2 years ago

    Thank you for letting me know!

  • 2 years ago

    Thank you everyone for this string. you were all a huge help. please take care, stay safe, and have a very blessed and Merry Christmas.

  • 2 years ago

    Yes - great to see this post still alive and helping for 6 years running. Merry Christmas and happy lighting to all! (The OP)

  • last year

    Hi all, if anyone pulled their strings off we'd love them. Like others above we have lost a base (the little green part) and can't seem to find it anywhere. We have had success with the 612 Vermont lights. e-maill address is kelcnole@aol.com if anyone happens to have them, we'd be happy to pay to ship.

  • last year

    Hello @kelcnole - I started this topic back in 2015 and great to see it’s still useful!

    Just today while we were putting up our old Frontgate tree - the very one we wound up removing all lights from several years ago per my previous posts above - today I found one more light caught up deep in a tree branch and laughed with the family that we forgot one after all these years…

    And was about to throw it away but not before I saw your post in an email just now.

    We only have 1 - but maybe that’s all you need? See pics below.

    I’ll email you separately.

    Merry Christmas!

  • last year

    If anyone has an area of lights out on your tree get the LIGHT KEEPER PRO from Home Depot or order on Amazon. We had about 600 lights out on our tree in different sections and this reconnected the circuit to every section. All we had to do was replace the burnt out bulbs. No need to oull your lights off. THIS WORKS!

  • last year

    I see I’m not the only person looking for bases for the bulbs. Has anyone had any luck finding them or have a search recommendation? Thanks in advance!

  • last year

    I found someone selling a Frontgate garland from the same era and it used the same sockets. So I was able to scavenge a few from there. Worth keeping an eye out for.


    This year my tree had all of its lights working for the first time in several years.


    i did replace around 300 bulbs this year and around 400 last year as the older bulbs died out.

  • last year

    Replacing the bulbs (though time-consuming) is the easy part. Not finding bases is so frustrating! May I ask where you found the garland?

  • last year

    I found mine on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace - I don't remember which.

  • last year

    Thank you!

  • last year

    I spend hours each year replacing these bulbs. But I'm down to my last BASE. arrgh; lost one yesterday when startled by a mild shock while pulling it. Would anyone be willing to sell me a few bases to help me keep this tree going for several more years please? I just enabled my profile to receive messages, wasn't able to message folks above who had success in this department. Would be most grateful

  • last year
    last modified: last year

    If you are handy, you can always splice a new socket from cheap string from Walmart and use that base . Just make sure identical bulb ( mine was 2.5V , 0.425W/ 170mA a standard size for a string that has 50 lights in series ) . make sure the tags match on the plug . That’s what i did to my mom’s tree

  • last year

    Honestly my best advice is, if you like the quality of the tree itself, just remove the lights and be done with it. I’m the OP above, removed the lights years ago, and since been using the same 8-10 strings of standard incandescent lights for all these years. Of course need to replace the burnt out bulbs but with the help of a light keeper pro and standard extra bulbs, life is a breeze. Not worth the aggravation of prelit. I don’t mind putting the lights on anyway - takes about 15 mins and all is well.

    Also - when I bought the standard 100 bulb strings, I just bought several extra sets (they are relatively cheap at our local stores). I took the time to pop out the bases/bulbs in the extra sets and keep them in a ziplock bag. I know have about 400 extra bulbs for about $10 (maybe $15 nowadays). Lasts for years and no aggravation.

    Happy New Year!

  • last year

    And PS, sorry I don’t have any Frontgate bases anymore. If you couldn’t tell from my previous post, they are long gone :)

  • last year
    last modified: last year

    just ordered 10 bases/bulbs off ebay. search "frontgate bulbs" (if you see this soon of course)

    gotten bulbs 100 at a time on ebay search for proper voltage and wattage. key search term for physical fit is mini "pinched base"

  • 7 months ago

    Just found this posting.

    We just ran into to the lights not fitting issue. Nov 2023 and we found this on Amazon. It’s a perfect fit. Thought I would share this information. We have our entire tree once again lit up!

    612 Vermont 2.5V Clear Mini Christmas Replacement Bulbs for Christmas Trees and Incandescent String Lights, Pinched Base, 100 Count (0.42 Watt, 170 mA) https://a.co/d/hGDxZPd

  • 6 months ago

    Thank you all

    so far this thread is a lifesaver… Thanks Thanks!

  • 6 months ago

    Hi! This thread is a sver! I replaced a bunch of bulbs but still have a full section not lit, looking at replacing fuse next. I do have a question about the MASTER bulbs. The base is bigger, do you replace those bulbs with same bulbs has non "master"? Keeping the "master" base? I can't find information on that. Thanks

  • 6 months ago

    I've spent many many hours replacing bulbs on my tree, haven't noticed a "master" bulb as referenced above. I second the amazon link above, have purchased several boxes in case they go away. Prob replace 100 a year. some sections have a ton; when one goes out the rest get brighter, then another goes out. unless the shunt on one fails so the branch goes dark. I tried a remote that had a dimmer but I think it was undersized for my tree because it ran dangerously hot. I figured if I ran at 90% brightness I would have far fewer bulb failures.

  • 6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    wasted way too many minutes on one section before figuring it had come unplugged. Use that voltage detector!


    AND when troubleshooting an entire string that's out, after every few bulbs you replace, plug it into the LightKeeper and give it a few clicks to try to fix the broken shunt in a burnt out bulb and sometimes the branch will come back on, making it easy to find the dead one.


    start with blackened discolored ones, for me they often seem to be underside branch, deep in the tree....

  • 6 months ago

    Thanks! I have the tool but doesnt seem to be helping me with the lights out. I unplugged everything and plugged them one by one in an extension cord and labelling the branches that lit to figure out what section goes with which cord. The master bulb is one bigger green casing closest to the end of plug. I wondered why the casing was bigger, I found information about master bulbs on Balsim Hill trees, it makes sense but I am trying to figure out if I keep that bigger green casing if the same 2.5V bulbs work fine. Looks like those master bulbs act like a fuse. Their base is bigger

  • 6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Do you have Balsam Hill? On my ~ 12 year-old Frontgate, have never encountered a bulb different size than the others. And I bet I've replaced every one of them by now! But mine may be different. MANY times if I replace any that are discolored, plug a socket ALL the way into the lightkeeper tool, and click the trigger a few times, the branch will come back on.

    but sometimes a long struggle, trying to trace which part of branch has power, which doesn't then concentrate in the area in between as the area where the bad bulb should be. very hard to trace the wire exactly though.

    if no power anywhere in strand, check fuse, plug

    if you notice a BRIGHT branch (bulbs getting too much power at risk of blowing more), or bulbs out "during the season" replace any out that you see/can reach. if a whole branch is out once ornaments up, forget it


    Every year I consider an LED tree, but it's not the same look and some have flicker and I'm not convinced about getting replacement bulbs for those though haven't researched. I'd buy a bunch at the same time as tree if I did. It's a myth that LED don't burn out. At least you shouldn't lose the whole strand though. With this tree most of the work is FINDING the bad one when whole strand is out

  • 6 months ago

    Thank you:-) I am making progress, removing all bulbs from each branch that wont lit and testing them and changing. Ran out of bulbs, again! I also struggle with dropping the casing when i remove them, I have one unaccounted for and those I dont believe are available on amazon?

  • 6 months ago

    @Jeff Brent. I run all my incandescent lights through a dimmer for the reason you mentioned . They don’t burn out as frequently at say 100V AC and are just slightlty dimmer. Just make sure your dimmer is appropriately sized. Those bulbs are about 0.4 W per bulb, 20W per string and a large tree may have 20 strings or so ( 400W) . Many dimmers are only 300W . I have found 1000W dimmers on Amazon. You can also look at Router (woodworking ) speed controllers. Just check the wattage.

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