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Inflatables in Ice Storms

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I posted this in the Inflatables area also, but we are expecting our first ice and snow storm of the season next week, and it is my first with inflatables in the display. What's the feeling, is it better to leave them inflated with the fan motor running, or shut the down until the ice melts? Or is there another strategy?

Your thoughts please.

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Well, it worked for a while, but your choices get slim when the power lines come down. We've been without power for the last few days due to the ice storm.The powerwas just restored about an hour ago, so we'll be checking for damage in the daylight tomorrow. Hopefully, the ice is over now, and we can get the show back on in the next night or so.

Thanks to all for your help.

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Texan78 wrote:

Well it is probably to late for you now. But it is best to keep them running. They don't pull much power anyways.

Don't use much power?

They use between 80 watts & over 120 watts each

Thats more then all my LEDs combined

Each one doesn't use too much, but if you have 20 thats a pretty good load

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I'm almost of the opposite opinion to the original suggestion. I say leave them off during/after the storm. Then turn each one on individually, and try and get as much ice/snow/slush off of it before you turn it on.

Snowglobes and the like will most likely have water/snow get inside the base, and therefore the snow won't blow for awhile until the water is gone. I actually unstaked one of mine and 'drained' the water from the blower, and then turned it back on.

Now, I don't get as much snow/ice as most of you folks in the Frigid North, but we do get some bad ice storms from time to time. There haven't been any yet this year, in fact, we have been having temps in the high 70's for the last week or so...

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My short answer is pickle buckets, but first I must digress...

I have 41 snowmen and snowbears, and I live in northern South Dakota. With that history I have had a chance to try some things with the ice.

My first ice storm 4 years ago, I decide I was going to leave them up. For the first 4 hours or so they did just fine with a couple of trips out to "bop" them around some and knock the ice off. Since it was getting well past my bed time and the rain was forcast to let up, I went to bed and left them up. That was something I had never done before, and it is something I have not done since because I woke up to more than 150 knife stabs from 3" to 15" long. They were down anyway. Spent the next 5 hours or so very carefully peeling sheets of ice off the nylon, and only tore a couple of spots. They all had to go in for the sewing machine treatment any way so...

The next year, we had the rain start in the early afternoon. I left them up 'til bedtime with occasional "bop" like the year before. Then I set them down at bedtime. Woke up to 1/2" of ice covered by 6" of heavy wet snow.

Now, kneeling in the snow...taking handful after handful of snow and sheets of ice off what seems to be an acre if nylon leads one to think a little outsde the envelope...

Least favorite snowman...mushed on the nylon a bit to break the ice...backpack leaf blower...opened zipper about 4".:D If you do it to a 12 footer don't look up 'cuz the ice is going to fly. Make sure the the zipper is open more than the size of the blower nozzle so you don't over pressurize too much. Durn fun, but still not the best solution.

Now the pickle buckets. Fast food joints get pickles in 5 gallon buckets. I have a friend who knows a guy who...anyway I have lots of those buckets.:P

When the ice/heavy snow threatens, I lay them down, detach the tethers at the stakes, bunch the teathers and nylon up on top of the motor unit, and cover them up with a pickle bucket. Size is just right for everything except my 12 footers...those I bought horse feed buckets for.

When the snow/ice is done, shovel out around the bucket, remove the bucket, hook up the tethers and power up.

Hope this helps someone.

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While I don't have any pickle buckets, I do agree with your post.

Another way to look at it, ice and snow that is, why fight it?

Leaving things inflated seems to be asking for trouble.

I just use plastic tarps to cover mine and then everything is good to go after the storm.

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I agree with not leaving them inflated during the storms. Winds can get stronger all of a sudden and cause unexpected accidents to happen. I like the idea of the buckets, and I have horses and buckets all around, but why didn't I think of that. I lost two of my favorite inflatables in last years ice storm and damaged another. After this years storm my snowmen are not rotating or blowing up inside their globe, and nothing happened to them, just deflated them one night (working)and when our power came back on plugged them in and they weren't working.

Luckly the center pole that they rotate on was just tangled and not letting the air through. So far I have been lucky this ice storm, no damage. Last year lost two inflatables, and at least three (real)trees.

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We've had 2 storms in 4 days, 12" then maybe another 7-8"

I let them run, 1st storm was fluffy snow. Part way thru the storm (started at noon) they all turned on. SOme went thru the snow (12.5' snowman), some didn't. I went out & brushed snow off & they were all up & running as it continued to snow

The next night I went out as they had already powered up & brushed the snow off

the ones that couldn't puch up thru the rest of the snow

2nd storm - heavy snow turned to ice then freezing rain

12.5' snowman pushed RIGHT THRU IT!!

I went out & cleared up the rest & they were up & running

3 on the roof are still flat & covered as of last night, 1 was up after the 1st storm

Have to see how they are tonight, I'm not going on the roof

And yes, they are still running. The "heat" from the C-7's should eventually melt the snow :laughing:

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I let down my chicken on the chicken coop due to the winds. Just a little too high profile for 50 MPH gusts. It snapped a pine right next to the coop so I was glad to see it still up there.

I was wondering if you could just use one of those metal washtubs on them?It should be big enough to just deflate the airblown, set the tub on top and make sure nothing is exposed. I don't see a reason to take the tethers off.

I tend to shut mine down during the day anyways. Usually the Halloween globes (one has bats that fly around) are up through rain. This year I put them on a platform but they still got wet inside (and mud - thanks to 4 inches of rain in a couple days.) I was thinking I could cover them up with a large heavy bucket they will probably be okay - if they are up off the ground enough.

I like airblowns but mine do pull 50 watts for the small pumpkin, 80 watts for the chicken and 100 watts for the ghosts / leaves. I have to small airblowns I bought at the beach (Santa and Frosty) and both are 3' tall and barely use 15 watts. I put them on the same circuits that power all the lights that are hooked up to photo timers. We're at the end of our power line and when it freezes around here, we're sure to lose power.

I'd like some more because they fill up space nicely. But 100 watts! WOW! That's a lot of power so I can have a few airblowns or a forest of candy cane trees. Right now I'm in the "middle" but I was maxing out some of the circuits...

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Robert...sure washtubs are a great idea. And, you're correct with those the tethers would not have to come off. The other thing I like about washtubs is they are probably more apt to stay in place with strong winds!

I have 41 snowmen/bears, so the ample supply of buckets dictated what I used.

I have toyed with the idea of building bases for mine. Or constructing some kind of easy attach/detach for the lid of a bucket. That way I could have them up on the bucket for display, and in the bucket for storms and off season storage...


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I can understand the pickle buckets as an economical solution.

Actually, that IS a great idea - a base that would have some sort of connection for a weather shield. It could also be designed as a storage box for the airblown.

Okay - thinking cap on - what about a plastic storage bin from Walmart or any other place that supplied quality plastic bins? They come in different sizes. Take the lid and drill holes to mount the base to the lid (inside of the lid.) Bolt the legs of the airblown to the lid (through the stake holes.)

Drill 8 other holes around the outer edge - 4 for stakes, 4 for drainage. Then when you need to cover them prior to the storm, you take the bin and snap in into the lid. Might even be able to slot a couple slots for tethersbut I bet the tethers can snap into the gap between the lid and bin. And I wonder if storing the airblowns with the balloon suspended below in a relatively open area will allow it to breath better (longer life perhaps?)

The trick is to get it up off the ground enough in the wet places (aka my whole front yard.) Perhaps some sort of legs hinged to swing out or in to form the raised base. When not in use, the legs can collapse into the lid. I figure it'd be easier to have them hinge to lay flat away from the center. To fix the legs in place, bungie cords could be used in a criss-cross pattern - kind of like some airblown bases are - but in reverse. These legs would need to be staked and not the lid.

Or if you have railroad ties or wooden landscape timbers, you could screw the lid to that so it will not move (I have such a place that it would look awesome to have some standing.)

You could use the pickle bucket lids in the same manner!

For the airblowns that defy conventional plastic bin-ware, a trash can could be used.

I'll have to see what I can find to play with. Sure make it easier to store them away and set back up...

I need some pickle buckets too! I use them to haul the ballast on my railroad in the gondolas. I load them with the rock from the trailer and the train takes them where I need the rock. Buckets are nice because I can lift them out and carry them ahead of where I am laying track and dump them - 2" of ballast under the ties keep them nice and dry! Any idea where I can "recycle" them for my use? They wear out after time. :-(

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Ok, I have given this some thought...it hurt, but I did it anyway. I will try to describe what I'm thinking about, but be warned, the inside of my head is as messed up as the outside.

Back to my pickle buckets.

If I bolted/screwed/glued two lids together...top of lid to top of lid. The lids that I have fit very tight to the buckets. Cut a large hole in the center ofthe lidsfor the intake on the fan unit.

Then...drilled some holes in a bucket...a single 1" hole through the bottom for a stake. Several 1" through the sides about 1/2 way up from the bottom for air supply to the fan.

Take the legs off the bottom of the fan unit, and bolt the fan unit to the lids with the air intake over the hole in the lids.

Store the snowmen upside downinside the bucket...with the lid snapped tight. Then to deploy all I have to so is open the bucket...stake it down...flip the snowman right side up...snap the lid in the bucket...stake the tethers...and power up.

Advantages are that the snowman is up off the ground...the bucket is there for ice storms...the tattered boxes are in the garbage where they belong...and the snowman is in a way sorta self storing with ventilation.

With 41 of these things, any little bit of time savings in deploy/recovery process is welcome.


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Awesome. I'll have to go make the rounds and see what I can find.

That's a great idea for what you did. I was wondering how stable they would be so far off the ground but with the tethers I bet it would be fine. And one stack would be easy. Heck, you could set rebar out earlier and then just set the buckets up and tether everything out.

Do you have any photos?

Maybe someday the airblown suppliers will produce a comperable product for a low enough price.

I love my big chicken and the the others and so I am going to get more. I do let mine go down at night and all day. I'm concerned with the lights on the smaller ones because I don't know how easy it is to change those bulbs. However, I love the idea of seperating the lights so they can be lit seperately. But the small ones use transformers so are lower power. Can't really win there.

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  • 3 weeks later...

We have 12 inflatables. we let them run during ice rain snow to help keep them inflated. we do go out and check them if they r starting to lean. We have them all on one breaker and timer but if needed we can bypass the timer and switch them on to accomodate the precip with some periodic checks of them. We only get about 9.1 to 9.2 amps. There is 1 12 foot long sonwman group, snowglobe with snow, 1 4 footer and the rest are all 8 foot.

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