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Length of Custom C9 Strings


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I just bought a 1000' spool of C9 sockets (12 inch centers) and a bunch of vampire ends. The cords are rated at 10 amps so you could make strings as long as 150 Feet if you really wanted to. I have some runs on my house that will be around 80 feet or so. I am wondering if I should make shorter runs, like every 25 feet or so, or make it the entire length of 80 feet. I am wondering how hard it would be to manage a run that long putting it up and down.

What do the "Pros" do?

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Neworder,

My roof line is made up of 4 sections ... for a total of 200 ft (give or take). The length of the strands were determined (all C9s)with the following considerations:

  • First the design of the roof line: 4 channels on each section to allow chases ... last year I used reguar C9s .. Channel 1 was White, 2 was Red, 3 was White, and 4 was Green. I used 18" spacing for the C9s, and then staggered each channel 4.5 inches. So from the ground it looked like one set of multi-color lights ... but it was really 4 wires, spaced to make the effect.

  • 2nd- Amps the cord would handle ... this was the least of my concern, cause I knew that I would never have that many AMPs on any one channel
  • 3rd - A total of no more than 3.5 amps per channel ... Why? Cause I use 30 amp Showtime boxes. No more than 15 amps could be on any one side (channels 1thru8, or, 9thru16) of a box.

    • Side points, this was going to cause me problems since I knew if I used too many amps to achieve the 4 channel roof line chase ... then I wouldn't be able to use the other 4 channels on that side without being extremely careful not to overload the side.
    • So ... I divided the roof line up into 3 sets of 4 channels ... for a total of 12 channels devoted to the roof line
    • It turned out to be great, and many people commented that they watched the roof line a lot during the show.

    [*]4th - Try to keep the amps as close to 2 as possible per channel. Then I could use all 8 channels without overloadinga side. I really wanted to be able to blast all the lights on if the music called for it. So keeping the amps low per channel allowed me to do this.

As to the length of a strand:

  • I have a two story house, with at least one high peak that I know would be tough.
  • I found that loading all the bulbs into the sockets prior to installation caused some problems:

    • Any pressure on the bulb wasn't a good thing -- they break
    • It was freezing cold when I was putting them up -- and that made things worse
    • Lights banging against the ladder wasn't a good thing either
    • Because the 4 channel bundles were heavy, I needed a 2nd pair of hands just keep the whole thing from ripping of due to the weight of the dangling un-installed lights
    • FINAL SOLUTION: I removed all the bulbs, and installed the wire/socket bundles. Then went back and put all the bulbs in.
      • Pros: Faster, could be done with one hand ... (be sure you use single piece roof clips ... don't use the kind where you have to break a part off and slip it over the other part of the clip ... they were awful.) ... no bulb breakage
      • Cons: It took two passes to get the wire up and then the bulbs ... climbing up and down the ladder was hard on the knees and the attention span

[*]But, long strands was fine ... just remember that you will likely want help if you have a high or hard to get to roof.

This year?!

  • I'm using all C9 LED Replacement bulbs on the roof. All the strands will be connected into the same 4 channels (only .96 watts per bulb)
  • The LEDs are very sturdy ... and thus no concern about breaking them
  • Soooo, I will load the lights into the bundles and put everything up in one pass this year ...
  • Butttt, since the strands are heavy, I will be needing someone to help me at least on the high parts.
  • I will be using the better clips ...

(I'll try to take a picture of the clips I used ... but, I'm sure there are plenty of opinions on this matter.)

Hope this was helplful.

T.

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Wow, that is quite the post Tom. That information will help a lot.

I will be doing 3 channels on my roof line White, Red, Green on 12 inch spacing so each bulb will be 4 inches away from each other. I will be dividing the 3 colors up to 6 channels because of the amp load.

My eves are siding so the built in clips on the C9 lights work great.

I guess you would have to take all the bulbs out if you are putting up 3-4 strings at a time. I was wondering about that and it sounds like having the sockets empty are the best way to put them.

Thanks for the info!

P.S. I really wanted to do LED C9 lights but I have spent so much money already on supplies since this is my first year (FM Transmitter, LOR controllers, Cords, Etc., Etc.)

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I have been using C-7's for about four years now. I have two spools for the roof line. One of the garage, then there's a break and one for the main house. I have left the lights in and clips on. I rarely bang the lights hard enough to break them and I think I've only broken three on the last four years.

I start at the plug end and I have a place where the roof line transitions up so I have a few empty sockets at that point.

Here's the neat part. After Christmas (actually after year years), all I have to do is grab the end and gently pull the string. The clips release pretty easy and I only have to go up the ladder a few times where the roof transitions. About an hour and half to put up and test and about 15 minutes down.

The clips I use are the universal type with gutter clip, a two way light holder (small for minis or open for C-7's or C-9's) and a little curl on the front for icicle lights.

http://seasonalconnection.com/cgi-bin/ePages.storefront/540123053/Product/View/21310-327982

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Tom B. wrote:

  • Any pressure on the bulb wasn't a good thing -- they break
  • It was freezing cold when I was putting them up -- and that made things worse
  • Lights banging against the ladder wasn't a good thing either
  • FINAL SOLUTION: I removed all the bulbs, and installed the wire/socket bundles. Then went back and put all the bulbs in.

I find that the bulbs don't break unless they strike another bulb. Glass to glass contact is bad! Obviously banging against the ladder is not good either. I like to have them plugged in when I put them up particularly if it is cold outside. The bulbs keep my hands warm. To (hopefully) keep the bulbs from banging together I lay out the string on top of the row of hedge in front of the house. Then I start from one end and work my way to the other. I get up on the roof to do some of the strings. I find it VERY hard not to drag the bulbs on the shingles. The shingles will scratch the paint. Scratches allow some "white" light to show through. This bothers me a lot however it's rarely enough to show from the ground.

The clips I like to use are the "All in One Clips" that you see at this link:

http://www.aachristmas.com/vpasp/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=79.

I like them better than the All in One Plus" clips. To be more specific these are the clips I like to use when attaching C9s directly to shingles on the "end" (depending on the house of course) of the roof. This would be the side where you are facing a peak not the side where there are gutters. If you have the (annoying) gutter helmet you have to use a different type of clip. I don't know what they are called but I'll post a picture. I haven't seen these clips the last couple years. They are a 2 part clip but they snap together and don't come apart easily. They are not the problem clips thatTom described above.

TED

post-306-129570966593_thumb.jpg

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Hi Ted, etc. ...

I see a topic we haven't touched on yet this year ... Do you mount your roof lights a) UP, B) DOWN, or C) OUT? Ted seems to be a "DOWN" guy ... but that is information for another thread (probably)

I thought you all might be interested in the lights strand bundles I made last year ... and what they look like ...

Here are some pictures:

1st the Clip I settled on last year ... sturdy and easy to use ...

ztree009ro2.jpg

This is a section of the bundles. There are 4 C9 Socket wire I bought from ActionLighting. The wire has 18" spaced sockets ... the color scheme is : White, Red, White, Green ... each on its own channel. The bulbs you see are this year's C9 LED Replacement bulbs.

ztree006lj4.jpg

Another look:

ztree007kx6.jpg

Here's the jig I made to put them together. It is a 6ft 2x4 ... with nails at 4.5" apart. I would measure and cut all the wire, then put them in the jig (6 ft at a time), and then put a ziptie around all 4 wires, between each bulb. It was a slow process. But, it made everything neat and easy to handle (except heavy enough that I needsecure my progress either with a person to hold up the part that had been installed, or a nail to hold the weight of the uninstalled section of lights while I moved the ladder.)

home2005hq7.jpg

Hope the detailon the pictures is enough to see.

later,

T.

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Wire...

I bought the bulbs from Paul Sessel at Creativedisplays.com ... $70 per 50, with a 10% discount if you let him know you are a member of PlanetChristmas.

As for the clips, I bought them at Lowes ... and the price wasn't much ... maybe a couple dollars for 25 ... but I cannot remember exactly.

... hope that helps,

T.

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Tom B. wrote:

Hi Ted, etc. ...

I thought you all might be interested in the lights strand bundles I made last year ... and what they look like ...

Here are some pictures:

1st the Clip I settled on last year ... sturdy and easy to use ...

This is the only clip I use on the roof of my display. If you want to know how I got the lights to go *up* while connected to a gutter ... shoot me an email or PM on November 8th or so, as I'll have them down, and ready to go up. (Sorry, but I won't remember to do it. You'll have to make a note. :))

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Ted, Was that just a demo picture or do you really use the classic flame shaped bulbs? I've got quite a few but have been hesitant about using them.

As far as the bulb in or out debate, I install my C9s with the bulbs in. All the strings go in a basket I pull from. It's especially handy when working on the roof ridge. (But then I live in a 1 story ranch house).

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Randy G wrote:

Ted, Was that just a demo picture or do you really use the classic flame shaped bulbs? I've got quite a few but have been hesitant about using them.

Thank you for pointing that out! I usually mention the antique bulbs when I post that picture.I have a bunch of the old C9 interior paint flame bulbs. (I got them from Estate sales and eBay sellers.) I put some of them up on my parent's house the year that I took that picture. I used about 45 of the flame bulbs that year (2003 I think) and only had 1 bulb burn out. It was a fairly cold winter that and the bulbs were encased in ice a couple times.

The next year I was planning to use the flame bulbs somewhere else and so I put new bulbs in the sets for my parent's house. ("New" meaning bulbs I bought in previous years on clearance at walmart. They were still new in the packages.) I had a ton of bulbs go out! Last year (2005 obviously) I checked the strings and replaced all burnt out bulbs BEFORE I put them up. I think I ended up replacing 18 bulbs out of 75 before the season was over. This was in addition to the ones I replaced before I put them up! I did not buy any C9 bulbs on clearance in 2005. I'm thinking that I will order some bulbs from Action Lighting for the 2006 season.

Anyway, back to my original point...don't be concerned about using the old bulbs. They look GREAT and will hold up better than the "discount store" bulbs. They are 10 watts rather than the 7 of most newer C9 bulbs so keep that in mind if you are worried about the power load. I'm curious--what were your concerns about using the old bulbs?

TED

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Ted, I haven't used the old flames because of their age. I don't know how long they will burn and changing bulbs frequently on the roof is no fun. It may be silly, but I don't want to use them up since they're so collectible. Putting antique bulbs on a dimmer would help them last longer, at least in theory.

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Randy G wrote:

Ted, I haven't used the old flames because of their age. I don't know how long they will burn and changing bulbs frequently on the roof is no fun. It may be silly, but I don't want to use them up since they're so collectible. Putting antique bulbs on a dimmer would help them last longer, at least in theory.

It's sort of a catch 22. If you use them they will eventually burn out. If you don't use them then they will not burn out but you don't get to enjoy them. I do understand that they are not easily replaced. I probably have about 100 or so andit took me a long time to accumulate them. I do plan on using mine again although I don't know exactly when and where.When I put them up in that picture my thinking was along the same lines as you. I didn't know how long they would last so I only put them on the front edge because I could easily change thosefrom the ladder without having to get up on the roof. As it turned out it was the newer bulbs that were burning out the most so I had to get up there anyway.

I have come to the conclusion thatthose old bulbs are TOUGH and they willlast a long time.As I mentioned previously I've picked them up at Estate sales and from E-bay sellers. There's no telling how long those old bulbs sat out in some garage through hot summers and cold winters not to mention getting knocked around in shipping (the eBay ones anyway). I put 45 on my folk's house and ran them for many hours every night. They got turned on around 5 or 6 pm and didn't get turned off until midnight or later. Sometimes they ranall night.They were onwhen they were completely encased in ice with icicyles forming off the tips of the bulbs. Even with all this abuseonly 1 bulb burned out. The bottom line for me is that I want to enjoy them and to let others enjoy them.For these reasons I alwayssay don't hesitate to use them.

This reminds me of something funny. Once I saw an auction on eBay for some of the C9 flames and the seller said something about displaying them in a bowl. I was horrified and sent the seller a message (good natured of course) letting her know that it would be a crime to let those great bulbs waste away in a bowl when they could be lighting up someone's house. Once they burn out it's a different story.I keep all the old burned out bulbs. Once I get enough of them saved up I am going to put them inside one of those clear lamps. (You know the lamps that typically have seashells or some other girly thing inside. Apologies to all thePC females.) I want to have one full of C9 flames and another one full of the old Lighted Ice bulbs. I told all this to the seller. She wrote me back to let me know that she liked the idea.

TED

P.S. A dimmer might help. I know some folks use them with the old C6 bulbs.

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