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Logan L. Johnson

Power: Do I need more?

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Ok, I have just been out stocking up on lights for next year's light display. I have lights to wrap my 15-trunk crepe myrtle and my flowering dogwood (total of 28 boxes 100 mini lights) and I also bought a santa sleigh. Currently what I have are several DIY decorations consisting of about 100 mini lights each. I also have icicle lights on the front of the house. I have all of this plugged into one single plug. Could I pull this off by using both plugs in the outlet, or do I need more plugs? I have plenty of extension cords and will probably buy more. 

 

Also, how many light plugs can I stack back-to-back? 

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The outlet both plugs combined usually take 15 amps max, some recommend only using 80% of that which would be 12 amps each strand of 100 mini lights take about 0.33 amps if they are incandescent. So 12/0.33=36.36 so 36 strands max per outlet / 15 amp breaker. My house has multiple outdoor outlets but all off the same breaker so I max out of all the outdoor outlets is 12 amps. So I use garage outlets and others to expand. This is my biggest motivation to go to LED. Start doing some math and figuring out how many breakers/ amps you have access to. Read the box for how many you can stick together, I think most are 3-4 max

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We had put in 4 (20 amp) gfci outlets...buy the time all the conduit ,wire, was under $200...did it myself...Our house was built in 02 and only had 2 outdoor outlets,so we added more. Of you can, go LED.... this year was 25k in lights,about 80% LED ,and pulled a total of 26 amps combined. Next year, (2017) hope to be 90% led

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I don't think I'm going LED. I don't think the look of the LEDs is quite as warm and welcoming, it is harsh and bright like something from space or lights in an office building. Currently I have everything in one outlet and no problems. Maybe I should hook another cord into the outlet and run it to the crepe. I used to hook some of my lights into another outdoor outlet, but it stopped working. I might have someone fix that to hook the dogwood up and my DIY cross. Maybe I should hook the main outlet (that is on my back patio) to a separate breaker (because sometimes the breaker kicks when I vacuum and it seems like everything in the house pulls from it. I will get the calculator out and do that......  may take a while. Also, I thought you could stack the light plugs endlessly back-to-back? There will be a total of 15 light strings used on the crepe myrtle and 7 on the dogwood. 

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Did u mean, plug 15 sets into each plug?

No doubt, incan looks nicer,but I have 25k+ and hope to go to 3 2ish for 2017...that would take a peaker plant to run, not to mention, the furthest string of lights are 80ft from the outlet...so that creates resistance=heat. I know when I started to put lights up at my first house in 99, all incan. And the cord was warm enough to melt the snow over time...now, not so much. I do have a mix of incan and majority LED. (see pic) can you tell me which ones are incan and which ones are LED?this is 2016 display

20161124_202919.jpg

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I certainly can tell the difference. The big tree is LED, the arches are LED, and the lights around the top of the house are LED. Of course, I don't have this many lights. I have never had plugs to get warm (maybe that's a good thing?). But yes, plugging 15 sets back-to-back. Similar to this picture I found online (not sure why it is b&w):

174_3.jpg

But 15 instead of 6. Or should I get a 3-way drop cord and break it up a bit? I'm not scared to push the limit but I don't want to do anything insane that would cause a fire or kill my lights. 

 

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I would split the circuit, add more breakers for sure, go oversize on the wire...I have 10 ga for the 20 amp circuit and 12 for the 15 amp circuits I put in. All cords are 14 or 12 ga 

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You need more outlets. The plugs are fused so after three or four sets plugged end to end or plugged into the back of each other the fuses will blow. If you plug that much into a 15 amp breaker you will start Tripping the breaker.

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I already have lots of lights plugged into 1 outlet. I am just afraid to add more. The breaker doesn't trip unless I run the vacuum or turn on the space heater. 

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soo uhh... what you are talking about doing, and "not being afraid to push the limits" is a light failure waiting to happen, breaker tripping or absolute worse case a fire....

Get more outlets installed and if you can, have the different outlets on different breakers. Someone above also mentioned that most incans recommend 3-4 stringed together, going much higher will probably cause them to fail. I highly recommend LEDs like Big J said above, it not only seriously dials back your power usage but you can string together many many more sets (end-to-end). I have never used incans in the quantity you are as my show is about 98% LED so my experience is limited. I am also not sure of the limits on "stacking" as you plan to do, but its giving me a headache/nightmare just looking at that photo you posted( cant imagine 15 like that...) My electrical knowledge is not limited though, electrical engineering degree... This is not something to play around with. I would also highly recommend using a spreadsheet like the one in the post I have shared below. I use this exact one and its super easy to see how many amps you are pulling with your display. Plus it keeps everything super organized. If you are getting to the point where you can easily trip the breaker by trying to use your every day items, you are getting close to overloading it....

Sorry if this was a little blunt but I have seen extension cords go up in smoke for having too high a power draw for too long. The wires used on Christmas lights are not has heavy duty as your standard outdoor extension cord. Much better to play it safe with this kind of stuff.

On 7/27/2015 at 1:47 PM, scottblakeman35 said:

Here is the spread sheet I use to keep track of everything.

light controler.xlsm

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Ok. I will get another outlet, or run to one of the outlets in the basement. If I use a 3-way cord I can make 2 stacks of 4 plugs and 1 stack of 5 plugs. That would be plugged into a different outlet. I don't like LEDs and I will not be switching. I am not an electric engineer, so..... I will certainly look at your spreadsheet. 

Edited by Logan L. Johnson
spelling

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23 hours ago, Big J Illinois said:

That picture is a electric flare up,waiting to happen:)

I agree the pic is a situation with increased risk...in that the weight of the plugs will pull out of the socket and partially expose the plug creating a situation where something or someone could come in contact with them.  electrical fire....yes if something fell and shorted across the exposed plugs or maybe if you plug your vacuum in the very end of the stack.  If you did this, to be safe use zip cord with vampire plug ends and run a piece of electrical tape or a zip tie around it all to hold it securely seated in the female plug.

19 hours ago, Logan L. Johnson said:

They say I can stack as many plugs as I want. 

Yes you can.  I can do a lot of things, but not all of them are smart.  If you have a solution to avoid stacking plugs in an electrical outlet I would recommend that instead.

19 hours ago, shane page said:

plugged into the back of each other the fuses will blow

unless you have different type of plug....the fuses will NOT blow from plugging them in as shown in the pic above.  The fuses are only connected to the two wires, not to the female portion of the plug.  If you plug them end to end....then they will blow the first one when you overload them.   Here are pics of a dissected plug to prove this.

20161229_150539.jpg20161229_150633.jpg

you can clearly see that the male prongs are one piece that goes into the female end of the plug.  The 3A fuses protect the strand of lights due to the guage of the wire, not the size of the plug.  I have never seen what the metal prongs are rated to, but it sure looks just like my 12A vacuum cleaner.

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Thanks for the clarification , that's why I said I think, I wasn't sure about piggybacking the plugs. End to end 300 or 350 and that is about it more than that the fuse will blow.

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