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The SnowMan

Light strand connections?

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I have always wrapped all connections with electrical tape to protect against rain/snow/ice and it's worked pretty good. Only a few minor problems. Just wondering waht everybody else uses and maybe there is a better idea?

Thanks!

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I never wrap the connections. By wrapping the connections you'll essentially keep moisture inside and the breakers or GFIs will trip. At the most I elevate them off the ground and keep them out of the puddles. At the best I'll put some ziplocks over them.

chris

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I try to keep mine somewhat protected but I don't wrap them so the water can get out. Water always seems to find a way in. I had no problems last year with GFI's tripping. I just make sure the connections are not sitting in water and are somewhat positioned so they stay relatively dry and off the ground.

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I also never get rain in winter, just snow.

I used to say that too, but the last 2 years we've had significant rain in December. And I've had more GFCI issues the last 2 years than ever... (Fluffy snow falling at 31-34 degrees isn't any better)

I just try to keep as many connections off the ground as possible. For example, when wrapping a tree trunk have the connection be up off the ground, hooked onto the light string, rather than sitting on the ground. But often it's impossible without having stakes littering the display...

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I bought a bunch of C7-C9 stakes after Christmas about three years back and now I zip tie every connection to these stakes. This keeps the connections off the ground. I also keep lights off the ground as well. My mega tree has about an inch from the bottom circle to the ground. Real trees get the connections somewhere on the trunk etc...

With these steps I have gone from 5-6 breakers popping every time it rains 3 seasons ago. To 0 GFCI pops in the last 2 seasons.

YMMV

Frank

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Keep the connectors off the ground and leave them open to the air. You can put a cover over the connectors if you want, but don't enclose them.

Air circulation is the key to prevent GFCI trips.

Also the female receptacle openings, try to have them pointing down. That way water has a hard time getting inside.

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I have never wrapped a connection. How would they dry out?

Just make sure nothing is in a puddle. But most of my extension cords lay right on the ground. The last two years most were under 6 inches of ice and 2 feet of snow. I did not get all my cords up until nearly April.

I've never had a GFCI or breaker blow. Only thing I had happen at all was a couple SSRoz board got a little condsation on the back side and they would stay on. Swapped them out and dried them out. touched up solder joints and they were as good as new.

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I too have always wrapped my connections with electrical tape, use a baggy on my animated display and as much as possible I try not having them lay on the ground. Never once have any of my house breakers popped.

Cindy

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While viewing Improvements catalog.com I came across and item called Extension Cord Safety Seal meant to snap over connecting cords, securely keeping them together and to protect them from the elements. They're asking $12.99 for a 2 pack. Anyway remembered this thread and thought I'd post.

Cindy

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I put baby safety caps in all the unused female ends of cords to help keep water out. Not sure if it helps, but it makes me feel like I am trying.

For a while, I put electrical tape over unused female ground plugs, especially those pointing up, but then my electrician said this really wouldn't help much.

I have a lot of multiple cube taps that I put on the ground. I wrap them in plastic garbage bags. I used to tape them shut, but they were always full of water in the spring. Now, I wrap, but primarily don't tape them. The only time I have a problem, with only a few circuits, is when it rains or mists. Usually it is the circuits that are at greater than 80%. It normally lasts a day or so. Snow is not a problem.

From this thread, it sounds like I should elevate my cube tap clumps. but I'm not exactly sure how. I have quite a few sets of 3 cube taps on the end of an extension cords.

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A couple other ways to keep them off the ground is to use a paver, brick or small chunk of 2x4. They don't have to be elevated 6 inches or more by a stake. We're just trying to keep them out of any possible puddling. I mainly use pavers as they run about 25 cents or so when Menards has them on sale. I can always use them during the summer to raise flower pots or something in the plant beds so I don't need to carry them all over or store them someplace. The ONLY place I have had a GFCI trip is on the tripod trees I make out of 1/2 or 3/4 inch emt conduit. These are three legged trees I make similar to mosts mini trees, but in the 4 to 10 foot range, and wrap with lights. If we get some warmer, wet weather in winter I'll get an occasional trip. Once it turns colder again they go away. I did pick up a bunch of the sandwich size dispossable containers this summer whenever they went on sale for some of my muliple plug connections and I try to run entire length extension cords from plug to light string so I don't have connections halfway. I will use two 20's or 25'

s in place of a 50 on occasion and those are the only connections I tape and they stay bone dry. It must work because I get and endless amount of inquiries as to why I have so few problems with lights out from anyone that knows and has seen the lights we put up. We get the snow and I wouldn't trade it for anything. But our friends in the warmer climates even if they get wet weather get a chance for things to dry out. Usually here IF it gets wet it gets cold right away after and we get ice. So some precautions are a must to keep things dry to begin with.

Lenny

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A couple other ways to keep them off the ground is to use a paver, brick or small chunk of 2x4. They don't have to be elevated 6 inches or more by a stake. We're just trying to keep them out of any possible puddling. I mainly use pavers as they run about 25 cents or so when Menards has them on sale. I can always use them during the summer to raise flower pots or something in the plant beds so I don't need to carry them all over or store them someplace. The ONLY place I have had a GFCI trip is on the tripod trees I make out of 1/2 or 3/4 inch emt conduit. These are three legged trees I make similar to mosts mini trees, but in the 4 to 10 foot range, and wrap with lights. If we get some warmer, wet weather in winter I'll get an occasional trip. Once it turns colder again they go away. I did pick up a bunch of the sandwich size dispossable containers this summer whenever they went on sale for some of my muliple plug connections and I try to run entire length extension cords from plug to light string so I don't have connections halfway. I will use two 20's or 25'

s in place of a 50 on occasion and those are the only connections I tape and they stay bone dry. It must work because I get and endless amount of inquiries as to why I have so few problems with lights out from anyone that knows and has seen the lights we put up. We get the snow and I wouldn't trade it for anything. But our friends in the warmer climates even if they get wet weather get a chance for things to dry out. Usually here IF it gets wet it gets cold right away after and we get ice. So some precautions are a must to keep things dry to begin with.

Lenny

Thanks Lenny. I'll try the paver / 2X4 idea. Every idea helps!

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Guest csx5861

I've wrapped some with electrical tape and have had no problems with those I had covered, as long as I did what my late father taught me )and he was an electrician before he got into electronics), always stretch the electrical tape and make it as tight as possible to keep any moisture out of the plug(s), you can use an indoor only extension cord outside by doing this. Last year I didn't have enough cords and used two indoor cords, wrapped as tight as I could get them, when the season was over and I took the lights down, unwrapped the cords (it had rained many times during the time the lights were up and on) they were bone dry, not an ounce of condensation in them. Just sticky from the tape, that's all.

The key is you have to really wrap them tight and stretch the tape to do so, if not, you'll sure have issues with CFGI tripping or circuit breakers flipping if you don't have CFGI outlets. I replaced my outside outlets with CFGI's 2 years ago and haven't had a problem since I did, nor with any wrapped plug connections.

Now I don't wrap all connections, only those I know were designed for indoor use only, indoor/outdoor connections never get wrapped up! But I also do as many others, I point the female end down, but I go a step further and I use a small screw down cable clamp behind the female plug and in front of the male plug and screw them into a wooden stake or on a wall. This prevents two things, the plugs from becoming seperated (unplugged) from each other and also keeps water out of them. So far, no problems and I've been doing this for almost 10+ years now.

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I have followed everyone's advice on here and the best I ran across is to keep them off the ground and let air get to them. I do the... keep female end downwards... and if warranted I cut the top off a 2 liter coke, pepsi, whatever kind of product bottle and put a stake in the ground and tie the extension cord to the stake and make sure the plugs are in the middle of the stake so plenty of air gets around. Little tip... Put tiny holes in the bottom of the bottle so the air can circulate better.

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I posted this once but it got deleted.. maybe because I used a brand name.

We wrap our connections with plastic wrap (the kind used in the kitchen)... then seal the ends with rubber bands or tie-wraps. The tricky part is getting rubber band tight enough to keep water out, but still being able to slip it over the plastic wrap after making the connection and closing the bubble.

-Frank S.

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You must not wrap your connections. Water will always find a way in, but it won't find a way out as easily. Where I work, we make outdoor water proof splices using a gooey tape made by 3M, but you would not want to use it on your lights as it makes a big mess. Without a complete seal, you are just asking for trouble.

Like others have said, keep open ends down (some ends are open on both sides as is common for Christmas light products) and up out of puddles. Another idea is to have drip loops so water doesn't just stream into your connections.

Remember, Christmas lights are mostly not sealed by design. The sockets get water intrusion from at least one, if not two ends in most products, and the cord ends are not really sealed on most products where the cord enters anyways.

Just keep the open electrical parts away from DIRECT paths to ground, that'll prevent GFCI trips.

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Guest csx5861

Like said, been using electrical tape for over 10 years and I have yet to have a tripped circuit breaker, even long before CFGI outlets were even around. I have never, not once, ever found moisture of any kind inside my "wrapped connections" because they are wrapped tight and they are secure and sealed. IT CAN BE DONE!

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I Tape My connections between strands and I've never had a problem and I don't see how that could cause a problem but maybe it can,I don't cover my female ends I just leave them either pointing down or leave them as they are no problems there either. I also leave all of my extension cords uncovered so in case I have too get too it to unplug it I can.

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