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Power Needs Keep Growing


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Well between last year and this year i added 8,000 lights. I have a static display. I got all excited and caught up in the fact that i got that many lights in one year. I'm only 16 which may have something to do with that. Anyways, i didn't really realize til this past week i need more power. Not really that but I'm going to have to spend $80 on 4 20 amp timers, and another $10 or so to fix a broken outlet as well as upgrade a 15 amp to 20 amp breaker. I'm pulling around 57 amps this year, and it's just a another reminder to have everything well thought out and well planned before you put your display together. I added up the amps before the display went live, and i figured it was all ok, but now after 2 nights of the display on for a full 5 hours, the 15 amp breaker has to be reset. I want to avoid that plus I'm about overloading my current wireless remotes for the other outlets. I'm not at my display every night because its at my grandmas house, so its even more an issue now. Anyways just had to get out all my thoughts in to words. Thanks for listening.

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You cant  safely just swap out a 15 amp breaker with a 20 amp breaker- the wiring between the breaker itself and the outlets it serves must be correctly sized to handle 20 vs 15 amps! Consult an electrician so you do not burn down your grannys house! I hope she is prepared for the huge increase in her electric bill that a static display pulling 57 amps creates!

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You cant  safely just swap out a 15 amp breaker with a 20 amp breaker- the wiring between the breaker itself and the outlets it serves must be correctly sized to handle 20 vs 15 amps! Consult an electrician so you do not burn down your grannys house! I hope she is prepared for the huge increase in her electric bill that a static display pulling 57 amps creates!

Well i do understand the wire and all that needs to be correct. I didn't exactly put all i knew in the post. Anyways when I'm there tomorrow i will double check to make sure the gauge of the wire is ok for it to handle it. My dad has done many house wiring jobs so i can ask him when i look at the wire. And as electric goes....she has already stated that if the bill is over $200 i get to pay it.....lol. Which I'm sure it will be. Last year it was over $300.....i don't want to even think of what it will be this year.......Thanks for reminding me about the wire though.....my dad said it might be ok but i'm still going to check. If it's not the outlets that shorted out because of aunts is a 20amp breaker so that will be there if i can't replace the other safely.

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Merrymidget is correct about breaker sizes. They need to be aligned with the wiring size. Keep in mind that for a continuous load that exists for more than about three hours, you should only load a circuit up to about 80% of the rating to provide a safety margin. This means that a 15A circuit should be limited to about 12A load, and a 20A circuit should be limited to about 16A.

 

If you are truly pulling nearly 60A for your display, it's becoming time to seriously consider your overall power need. Most homes have a maximum of 200A service, and many only have 100A service (especially if they use gas for heating/water heating/cooking). You need to invest in LEDs, upgrade your service, or invest in a sequencer that will limit your power consumption by not keeping all of the lights on at once.

 

Based on your comment about four timers, I'm assuming you are spreading out the load over four different circuits. My personal "don't-burn-down-the-house" rule of thumb is to keep the individual circuit load to around 7A max if the circuit is not specifically dedicated. If you have dedicated 20A circuits, you can double that to 15-16A. Based on that math, I would suggest that you need at least four dedicated 20A circuits (and personally, I would take that up to six to allow for future expansion).

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I know the feeling here, a few years ago we have two outlets installed along the roof-line (running from a single 20A), and this year I had two more added, each running to their own 20A. I had an electrician do it though, that's not an area I want to meddle with and mess up!

 

Using an animated display and some LEDs does help control the electric cost. I also only run it for about 2 hours on weekdays and 3 on weekends until about a week from Christmas when I extend that time a bit longer. 

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Well the whole box is rated for 200 amps, which is way better than 100. This year after Christmas i will sit down and figure out where i need to go with the display. If possible i will add 2 dedicated 30 amp breakers, and a couple 20 amps along with what i currently have. The only problem I have with buying LOR or some other controller is that to do the whole display i would have to spend at least $1200 probably...all at once.....I just don't have that kind of money to spend all at one time on Christmas lights. I will check in to adding new dedicated breakers coming next spring when i start planning everything out. If all else fails i can have a sub-box installed and new outlets wired. It would still probably be cheaper than LOR. I will still get the timers though because i will always need those. LEDs would definitely be the way to go...but then again to replace most of my lights in one year would be a huge amount of money. Either way I'm going to have to spend a lot...lol..

 

I am replacing my 100 C9 bulbs with LEDS next year, as well as probably 2 of my mega-tree's, that will help with a lot of electric.

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You don't need to hook everything up to LOR controllers in the first year. Not only would that be financially difficult it would be a daunting task to set up and program the sequences.

Yea true, like i said i still gotta sit down and think about next year. For right now i will make due, and then i will make any big upgrades as necessary. Here is a few pics of this years display, any thoughts on what what would be good to start with with LOR?

post-19074-0-35458700-1386434293_thumb.j

post-19074-0-35625700-1386434297_thumb.j

post-19074-0-90542900-1386434301_thumb.j

post-19074-0-90466700-1386434343_thumb.j

Edited by mwalz
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Suggestion 1: If those C7/C9s on the roofline are incans, switch them to LED or go to incan icicles. Those big "kodak" bulbs are beautiful, but they suck down a lot of juice. I used them to line my roofline for years, but finally abandoned them this season. For a 70 foot roofline, changing from C9s to twinkling icicles cut my power consumption for the roof by about half.

 

Suggestion 2: It's hard to tell from still video, but do you use flasher bulbs or dumb chasers at all? I use those in my display. They give a little bit of visual "pop" to the display, and also keep some of the lights from staying on constantly. The dumb chaser box can control 3 channels of 150w each (roughly 300 mini lights) and are inexpensive. Use chasers and and blinker bulbs has cut my amperage load from about 24A to about 18A.

 

Something that may help you with planning is what I do. As I am planning my display each year, I make a list of each element in the display, and how many watts/amps each item will draw when lit. With that entire list, I can start grouping together (usually trying to the items closest to each other grouped similiarly) and determining the best way to connect them to power. Since I am not running dedicated circuits (yet), I try to keep each group capped at about 7A tops to avoid tripping breakers during the display.

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You could save some money by buying used controllers on ebay, I bought 6 of mine there and have had NO problems with them, just be sure that you are not buying owner assembled kit models and are buying REAL LOL assembled units, and even if you do have a problem w/ one of them Light o rama will service it, if you can't do it yourself w/ their tech. assistance.

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Suggestion 1: If those C7/C9s on the roofline are incans, switch them to LED or go to incan icicles. Those big "kodak" bulbs are beautiful, but they suck down a lot of juice. I used them to line my roofline for years, but finally abandoned them this season. For a 70 foot roofline, changing from C9s to twinkling icicles cut my power consumption for the roof by about half.

 

Suggestion 2: It's hard to tell from still video, but do you use flasher bulbs or dumb chasers at all? I use those in my display. They give a little bit of visual "pop" to the display, and also keep some of the lights from staying on constantly. The dumb chaser box can control 3 channels of 150w each (roughly 300 mini lights) and are inexpensive. Use chasers and and blinker bulbs has cut my amperage load from about 24A to about 18A.

 

Something that may help you with planning is what I do. As I am planning my display each year, I make a list of each element in the display, and how many watts/amps each item will draw when lit. With that entire list, I can start grouping together (usually trying to the items closest to each other grouped similiarly) and determining the best way to connect them to power. Since I am not running dedicated circuits (yet), I try to keep each group capped at about 7A tops to avoid tripping breakers during the display.

That is a really good idea. I won't be able to put a small controller on everything especially my tree line because it uses 3,000 lights. And the roof i am replacing with C9 Leds next year for sure. My 15' mega-tree, i am doubling the height next yerar and that will draw 20 amps for the tree alone next year, so i need to figure out a way to get some more LEDs cheap. Where is a good place to buy those small controllers?

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I found a some 3-channel chaser controllers at http://www.thechristmaslightemporium.com/christmas-light-chase-controllers for about $15... You can probably find them at other suppliers or ebay for similar or less cost. The small controllers will only handle about 150W per channel, so if you are using incans, you need to be strategic with them.

Edited by CLashley
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You could save some money by buying used controllers on ebay, I bought 6 of mine there and have had NO problems with them, just be sure that you are not buying owner assembled kit models and are buying REAL LOL assembled units, and even if you do have a problem w/ one of them Light o rama will service it, if you can't do it yourself w/ their tech. assistance.

Can I ask what you paid for a controller on Ebay? The ones I see are sold for more than new ones from LOR!

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