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Glenn Barber

Weatherproofing Connections in the yard

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I hope this thread gets some response - i would love to see how others are weatherproofing their connections on their displays. I have come up with a few ideas this year and I think they are going to work. I want to take some pictures tomorrow and post them.

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Best not to worry to much about it. Other than keeping them elevated in a low area don't do anything. Worse thing you can do is tape them up. You COULD use the tupperware or glad disposable containers (sandwich size) and notch them just below the lid. Make your connection and put in the container and snap the lid on with the wires running out of the notches. Even with those though you ARE going to want to elevate so they don't sit in a puddle.

Lenny

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I'm with Lenny, I think it's a bad thing to try to seal up connections. Moisture will get in due to expansion, contraction, and condensation. The best thing you can do is reduce the number of locations that open connections get close to ground (or metal frames). Of course, you really need to avoid letting connections lay anywhere water accumulates.

Here's what I do. It's overkill and would be overwhelming to do on a large display. The only time I've had a GFI trip (so far) was when I had a damaged extension cord laying in a low spot in my yard.

2008-12Christmas-25-Lights-CordRouting.jpg

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I'm with Lenny, I think it's a bad thing to try to seal up connections. Moisture will get in due to expansion, contraction, and condensation. The best thing you can do is reduce the number of locations that open connections get close to ground (or metal frames). Of course, you really need to avoid letting connections lay anywhere water accumulates.

Here's what I do. It's overkill and would be overwhelming to do on a large display. The only time I've had a GFI trip (so far) was when I had a damaged extension cord laying in a low spot in my yard.

Nice idea, Reg. Have pictures of the other 150 plugs? HA :)

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I hope this thread gets some response - i would love to see how others are weatherproofing their connections on their displays. I have come up with a few ideas this year and I think they are going to work. I want to take some pictures tomorrow and post them.
I'm anxious to see the pics for maybe new ideas .......my ideas sure arn't working

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Reg that is a good idea. I wish there were something practical to do with larger displays. My cords usually end up sitting on or in snow, which isn't a problem until it gets right around or above freezing, and then BAM go the GFCI's. In some cases I'd have to elevate my connections 18" to make sure they're out of the snow (higher near the road where the plow berm gets pushed, or next to the driveway...)

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Nice idea, Reg. Have pictures of the other 150 plugs? HA :)

I do have one more picture.

One advantage I have is our porch. ~80% of my connections are out of the weather thanks to that, but I use a lot of tie wraps ;)

2008-12Christmas-23-Lights-CordRouting.jpg

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This year I've put dielectric grease in every female plug, whether an extension cord or a controller, before inserting a male plug, or just leaving a female receptacle open. All plugs are elevated off the ground. I tested the display in rain for 1 1/2 hours last week and the show ran without a hitch. So I'm hoping this will solve problems experienced in each of the preceding four years.

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I put baby caps in all unused female ends and wrap all junctions, that are not in the air, in garbage bags. I used to tape the bags, but now do not. I'm not sure how much this helps, but it seems to work in the snow. Although it does keep the snow out, the bags are full of water in the spring. I only have GFCIs trip in mist/rain, so maybe once or twice per lighting season.

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This year I've put dielectric grease in every female plug, whether an extension cord or a controller, before inserting a male plug, or just leaving a female receptacle open. All plugs are elevated off the ground. I tested the display in rain for 1 1/2 hours last week and the show ran without a hitch. So I'm hoping this will solve problems experienced in each of the preceding four years.
This may sound Dumb but what is dielectric grease? assuming it's water repellent, does it go inside the contacts of the female plug, does it come in a tube to squeeze out or a can? and where can it be purchased at? Because it this works it can be the solution to some serious moisture problems I'm having now and having my GFI's constantly tripp.....Are your plug connections tied into GFI's? Thanks

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This may sound Dumb but what is dielectric grease? assuming it's water repellent, does it go inside the contacts of the female plug, does it come in a tube to squeeze out or a can? and where can it be purchased at? Because it this works it can be the solution to some serious moisture problems I'm having now and having my GFI's constantly tripp.....Are your plug connections tied into GFI's? Thanks

You might be able to find dielectric grease at a local automotive or hardware store. If I remember correctly it is messy (like grease). But it is a compound that is intended to fill voids where water may accumulate and replace it with a material that will not conduct electricity.

Also keep in mind, the leakage current that trips a GFCI is the total of all leaks in all cords connected to that GFCI circuit. So if it's several low level leaks that are adding up to trip the GFCI, you can improve your situation by splitting up your power connections among several outlets (all GFCI protected of course). This scenario is most prevalent with LEDs that don't draw a lot of current.

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You might be able to find dielectric grease at a local automotive or hardware store. If I remember correctly it is messy (like grease). But it is a compound that is intended to fill voids where water may accumulate and replace it with a material that will not conduct electricity.

Also keep in mind, the leakage current that trips a GFCI is the total of all leaks in all cords connected to that GFCI circuit. So if it's several low level leaks that are adding up to trip the GFCI, you can improve your situation by splitting up your power connections among several outlets (all GFCI protected of course). This scenario is most prevalent with LEDs that don't draw a lot of current.

Thank You ......that explaniation was very understandable for me, But the ones I'm having trouble with will be going to a specific channel in my LOR box right now there tripping my GFi when testing with a New extenton cord what will happen when there pluged into the LOR?

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I always put duck tape over the ends that nothing were plugged in but if its plugged in I never worried. I never thought about what if water got in it wouldn't be able to get out. good point.

I believe you can buy plastic boxes for the connections to go in but not sure if there tight water proof or not.

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I use clear packing tape over plug ends that are not being used and zip lock freezer bags over everything else. i havent had any problems yet.

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I used some 1/4" plywood and some 1x1 stock and made boxes for all my connections. The boxes are 4"W x 8"L x 6"H. The individual sides are 4x6, and 8x4. The 8" sides do not go all the way to the ground as to allow air in, water out, and other all the lights to enter. I also cut another piece of ply to cover the top.

I put holes at the top of the 4" sides for the extension cord (I use the heavy duty ones with 3 outlet spaced across the cord), then the lights and other extension cords come in from the bottom.

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I used to spend hours making sure that all the plugs were up out of possible puddle areas and making sure ends would not get wet in Kentucky. Since moving to Florida I have found out it is not as much of a problem and I really do not do a whole lot to cover the connections.

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I used to spend hours making sure that all the plugs were up out of possible puddle areas and making sure ends would not get wet in Kentucky. Since moving to Florida I have found out it is not as much of a problem and I really do not do a whole lot to cover the connections.

Wow, I should have you come over and help me then.... last year, we had 1/3 the display out almost every night because of GFI tripping and that was AFTER I tried to fix the problem ;)

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Now see, that's always my biggest fear (and I have a very small display). Did you ever figure out what was tripping it?

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Now see, that's always my biggest fear (and I have a very small display). Did you ever figure out what was tripping it?

With 73,000 lights out last year and 5300 feet of extension cords (some home-made out of zip-cord and some garden rated), I never did figure it out. It started happening in mid-December when we started getting a ton of rain (much more rain that we typically get that time of year, which is why I had never seen tripping before). I really didn't have the time to trouble-shoot it much, so I kind of gave up.... just left stuff off.

Now, that being said, I am fairly convinced that my twig/wire/stick/Holdman trees were at least part of the culprit as well as my mini trees. See, to mount those trees, I was pounding metal rebar or spikes into the ground and then tying the tree into the spike by slipping it over the spike. The twig/stick/wire trees are all metal and here I was pounding a 3' metal spike 2' into the ground and slipping the wet metal tree over it... with Christmas lights all over the tree. Any small amount of leakage current was given a direct path to ground, which is what trips the GFI. I think it is microamps that will trip it. Anyway, this year I am using a PVC spike and slipping the tree post INTO the PVC... and the tree post has a plastic plug at the bottom to further insulate it from touching ground.

For the mini trees, I am using bamboo garden posts (25 for $6 at Lowes, they are 4 footers) instead of rebar... they seem pretty sturdy so far...

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Thanks. I was using the same kind of contraption as you to hold down a reindeer. Metal spikes with metal wire to hold a metal reindeer. Not smart. I'm doing pretty much the same thing as you now.

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I'm in the minority here. I do tape the ends of my extension cords, the small ones anyway. I don't buy the condinsation theory at all. But I don't so much tape them to seal them as I do to make sure the cords don't accidentally come unplugged as I trip over them at night as I walk thru the display fixing things. As for my controller cords, I cover all my controllers with black plastic bags but before I do I drape the cords over them and then seal the bottom with zip ties. The only time I've ever had problems with GFCIs tripping was last year with my mini trees. They were made from tomato cages so the metal was the problem with the grounding there.

But no method is fool proof.

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My method is:

92008-solange-knowles-with-minx-nail-fashion-by-lisa-loganjpg.jpeg

Are you new at posting images??:P

I had the same problem a while ago, a censored word in the url. Who knew??

Edited by Therberg

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