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Garden hose + recycled mini lights strings?


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I have 68 channels on my mega tree, and the cord run is ~40 feet from tree to house. I usually put the controllers in the yard strapped to the mast, but I am always fearful of vandalism or theft (I do have night vision cameras recording). This year, I am wanting to put the controllers in the house where my others ones are, but don't want to/can't break the bank buying yet more extension cords (68*50 ft/each adds up on top of the hundreds I have already bought over the years). I have many bins full of old incandescent mini lights and was thinking I could cannibalise the wires from them and string a bunch in garden hoses (using a #10 shared neutral for each 8 wire bundle, corresponding to each 8 channels on a LOR board. To make the correct lengths (I think I can get around 22'-25' from each string), I can splice 2 lengths together, using outdoor/UV wire splice kits. At the controller side, I will use Molex connectors. At the tree side, I haven't decided if I want to make sealed power strips or outdoor/weatherproof molex-type connectors.

Anyone do this already? I am not overly concern about over-amperage since I am using LED's (70 count mostly with only a few channels at 140 count) and figure if these wires are already rated for AC use (@ ~1.3 amps) and are for outdoor use, there shouldn't be any harm in bundling up 8 of them in a garden hose.

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I'd forget the garden hose - if water got inside somehow it could be much worse than not using it. Just use outdoor-safe wire if possible. Many of us use indoor-only wire and find it sufficient for seasonal use as well. YMMW, don't sue me if it doesn't work out, yadda yadda.

If you're using reasonable security means, as it sounds like you are, I don't think controllers are a particularly inviting target for theft/vandalism. But again, YMMV, and different people are willing to go to different amounts of work to elimiminate risks...

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Honestly, I would thinking about using sprinkler wire. It is already water proof...You will have to use a couple of 13 strand bundles together, but zip tie them together and you would have a nice neat bundle with molex connector on the ends to quickly connect and disconnect when the season is done. I used sprinkler wire last year. Ran 48 channels on it! it was so nice and neat through the yard. I know some poeple will bark at the usage, but the max load that was on each wire was no more than 150 mini incandecent bulbs....

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I was considering the sprinkler wire route, primarily due to the # of wires in a bundle (and 16-18 AWG) and the price point. I may need to rethink that since stripping old/dead strings is a real pain, not to mention the splicing I will need to do for the run lengths (thus incurring more voltage drop which LEDs don't like).

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As an aside, I just finished installing an 'invisible' dog fence and the plan was to run the (single, solid 18AWG) wire through about 150' of garden hose submerged about 1' from the edge of our pond. I was shocked how difficult it was to fish the wire through the hose - the tiniest little kink will cause the wire to hang up, even when I used a fish tape.

Then after finally getting the wire through the 4 hoses, I discovered they float and are nearly impossible to stake down :) So I ended up pulling it all out and just submerging the wire. Not that this part applies to your usage ;)

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I was considering the sprinkler wire route, primarily due to the # of wires in a bundle (and 16-18 AWG) and the price point. I may need to rethink that since stripping old/dead strings is a real pain, not to mention the splicing I will need to do for the run lengths (thus incurring more voltage drop which LEDs don't like).
Since you mentioned wire gauge, I believe your basic mini light stringer uses #22 AWG wire...
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Me and another individual have been tesing the voltage dropping in the sprinkler wire, and as of right now 100' run, there was no voltage droppage...We are playing with LEDS too....Just food for thought!

Edited by Aproct
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Me and another individual have been tesing the voltage dropping in the sprinkler wire, and as of right now 100' run, there was no voltage droppage...We are playing with LEDS too....Just food for thought!

How many strings ary you using? The more current that you have going through the wire the more the voltage will drop at great distance. If you have a very low load you can go several hundred feet without much voltage loss.

Hope I didn't burst your bubble:p

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There is a calculation for figuring out voltage drop, using the wire size, voltage , current, and length of run.

Vd= Voltage drop

I= current in conductor(amps)

L= length of circuit

Cm= cross section area of conductor (circular mills)

K= Resistance in ohms of one circular mil foot of conductor

Vd = 2K x L x I / Cm

Area circular mils ohms per 1000'

18 AWG - 1620 7.77- solid 7.95- stranded

16 AWG - 2580 4.89- solid 4.99- stranded

14 AWG - 4110 3.07- solid 3.14- stranded

12 AWG - 6530 1.93- solid 1.98- stranded

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