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    Controller Power Question from a Newbie

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    So, I think I'm going to ask the crucial question- how do you power your controllers? I am guessing that most of you have dedicated circuits for your lights. However, since I'm just starting out, I have two outlets on a 20amp circuit that I plan on using to power my show for next year.

    But, I've spent the last week trying to plan out how I want to do it. And then the answer came to me- for my shed in my backyard, I have the power for that (30amp) on its own circuit. So what I was thinking was that I could run two extension cords from outlets back there (probably about 100' or so) and then hook my controllers to that.

    So, maybe my question is, do you think this setup is feasible? My house was built in 2005, and when it was built, the electrician put all of the outdoor lights on separate circuits, so if anything, I could always plug controllers into those lights. As for my controller count, I was planning on running 64 channels but as I don't know if that will be feasible with my power setup.

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!


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    To answer your question, you really need to determine what type and how many lights you will have. This will dictate your power needs. If you use all LED's, for instance, you will easily be able to use the 20A circuit. However, if you use a lot of C9 incan's, you will need more power.

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    I only use mini lights and LED in my display. I originally was using C7s and C9s on my house, but the power usage was so high that I stopped using them, Figure I plan on having 10,000 lights on my house, if I space everything out enough among either 3 or 4 controllers, I should be alright with 20 amps correct?

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    Depends on the mix of minis vs. led's. On average, a 100 ct string of minis consumes 0.35A. If all of your lights were minis, then you're looking at 35 amps with everything on. Your best bet will be to plan out your display and then calculate your power load. Here's a link to a spreadsheet from Quartz Hill Christmas that allows you to calculate power consumption for a display using up to 25 controllers. I've used it on my display to check my calculations. Also keep in mind that with most animated displays, not everything is on at once.

    Also, when planning out your display, you need to keep the capacity of the controllers in mind. I use LOR CTB16PC controllers with the high power heat sinks. They can handle 30A per controller, with a max of 8A on a channel.

    Here's the link to the spreadsheet: http://www.quartzhillchristmas.com/resources/LightControllerCalculator252010vC3.0b.xls

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    I also use that spreadsheet. As far as power, I have one a fwe outside outlets that are close, but the rest are either in my garage, or in the backyard. So, I have long extension cords to power those. I don't have a lot of draw on a controller, so I have both halfs of the controller going into 1 extension supply cord via a three way. 1 extension cord, from 1 circuit, supplies 1 controller.

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    Please let us know ... approx. what percentage of LED vs. MINI lights. Even with Mini lights, some take .2 amps (per mini 100), and some from a couple years ago took .33 amps (per 100) and older ones maybe like .5 a each.

    You really need to get a Killowatt, to measure your lights with ... and then enter actuals into the spreadsheet and do the power planning from there. You have to ensure that you don't exceed 8 amps per "4 group" in the controller, (two groups per side) and not to exceed 15a per side, and keeping in mind the controller limits (depending upon model) and how much power you are supplying it with.

    In general, I try to supply each LOR PC model controller with a single cord (where possible) and if I'm feeding it was 20a, then I'm trying to keep that max amps to 80% of that 20a, spread across both sides in the best way possible. Typically, I run one high quality supply cord (15A) and then split it and plug both sides of the controller into it. Thats assuming I'm below 80% of 15A in total on the controller, which is common for me. Sometimes If I'm pushing say 15-18 amps on a 20a circuit, then I'll run two supply cords, usually of the 13A variety (16ga) instead. If you really pushed it to 30a, then I'd again limit to total on the controller to 80% of 30, then run a high quality cord to each side, and each to its own 15a or 20a circuit. So typically, I try to make as many work of a single 15a or 20a circuit and a single supply cord. Sometimes you can't do it, but I spread around my C9s enough that I can even do that on the roof, since the roof is 3 channels each of red, grn and clear ... and that lowers power use per section a lot.

    And keep in mind, the spreadsheet (as you grow) allows you to decide optimal placement of controllers, to minimize extension cords required.

    I used to use the qwartzhill sheet, which is excellent ... but the last couple years I use a modified version of what Holdman was using ... which uses a RG factor to push power even further by allowing you to limit yourself to either R, G, C, or R+C, or G+C, by not R+G at the same time. It allows you to push power even further by saying you won't program red and green at the same time ... but it's easy to break that rule by accident, so don't go there unless your ready to be disciplined.


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    I would probably say 90% of my lights are mini, most of which I've purchased over the past two years. I do have the spreadsheet from qwartzhill, so I've been using that and playing with that. Looks like I'll be doing some homework over the next couple of weeks researching the controllers I want to purchase. Thanks for all of the help.

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