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Rope light failures - anyone else??

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I bought a 150' spool of clear 1/2" incand. rope light from Action Lighting to make our talking faces this year and wanted to know if it's common to have several individual bulbs from time to time burn out or go dim initially.

I know with most electronics failures will typically happen sooner rather than later, and if they don't occur, will last a long time - but in our case, we're following all the 'rules' of ropelight; heating them up, having a stable power source, not over-flexing them, and once they're in place, LEAVING them! However, we're still having one bulb either going dim or burning out!!

Any ideas as to why this is ?

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From personal experience, bulbs and sections will burn out even straight out of the "box". Unfortunately thats what happens with rope light. If you see a bulb dimming or out...most likely that "section" will go out eventually. If its the 2-wire, then the "sections" are every 18 inches. One bulb out is no biggie and won't be notice...an 18 inch section, different story. Just make sure you have a few extra clear splices. I like the clear better instead of the standard white ones cause your can't see them. Also 3/8" rope seems to bend easier than 1/2" and just as bright. 

BTW...all my rope light I used was also from Action Lighting. I had failures too.

Kevin

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I have only had one section go out in 4 years from the stuff I get from lowe's. 90 feet of red g b clear. out of 360 feet one 3' section went out. This is why I like the 18' rope light from lowe's. If one goes out I am replacing 18' at 4 dollars at 50% off prices.

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Thanks for the reply. I'm hoping these are just typical electric failures that just happen out of the box. It's just been extremely frustrating to spend hours putting together the face, and it fails without any stress-testing (aka being outside in the weather for the actual show).

It's nice knowing that yours also came from Action Lighting because they look amazing on your home! By the way, how's your store coming Cracker ?

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I have had the same from both the stuff from Action or Menards. What I like about the stuff from action is the short sections and I can still get more that matches.

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Do you like to use the invisible splices (smaller) or the splice connectors (larger) when you repair a bad section ? Have you noticed one or the other works better? We've heat shrunk two sections last night with silicone inside the heat shrink as an added protection as we have a wet climate.

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The last time I used two small trim nails (removed the head) and some hot glue to seal it up. It wasn't pretty up close but you couldn't see a gap from a distance.

A regular connector would be a much stronger fix.

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I've had failures the first night out from two different suppliers and others go for two weeks with no problems. Some that I took down that went out somehow began working again indoors,others worked again when I bent it the other direction !!! I have used the white compression splicers on 1/2" clear ropelights and you can't tell where it is when lit. I am going to have some of the "invisible" splice kits on hand for this year just to see how well they work.

Jerry

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Personally I'm not using rope lights yet but if I do, I'm going to look for LED types. Incandescent lamps, the filament is constantly turning on/off of course with our controllers but what's happening is that filament is heating/cooling very quickly which also happens to expand and contract the filament. Lifetime would be greatly reduced as opposed to turning on a rope light and leaving it on. Another factor is something called "Electron Travel" which says that molecules of the metal of the filament slowly migrate from one side to the other over time...same happens to fuses. Eventually the filament is so "thin" from the loss, it fails.

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electron travel? Now I never took a EE class per say. But I did go to a trade school and did what was called Industrial Electronics. About the only thing I have heard of before was when the cathode in a tube, which is coated with some kind of material that has high count of free electrons. That after a time the free electrons can be depleted and the mU of the tube drops off.

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My first year I got a spool of LED red from Action to use on the eves (single long 90' section). Late in the year decided I wanted to do along the base also and got 5 18' sections of incan from Walmart for that.
Surprisingly, the LED and incan used almost the same amps at full power.
The next summer I pulled out the LED to use at July4 and had bad sections. Ended up just junking it, but the Walmart cheapies are still going strong.
Not bad-mouthing Action and YMMV, but if I am to use ropelight again, I'll get the cheap incan instead of reeling my own LED off a spool...

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I’m on the fence with the whole incan vs LED rope light. You really cant tell from my videos between the LED strips and incan rope. I mean the rope looks like a solid light in the videos as does the LED strips, but that’s because of the video camera. In person you can really tell the difference between the two. The strips truly look like a solid bright strip and rope is less brighter and you see the spaces between the lights.

I just don’t know if LED rope will out perform the incan with failure rate. I hate to spent the 3 times price to fail just as much as the incans. We know it will outperform in brightness, but what about fading too which is important with the faces. I just don’t know.
I do have a 150ft spool of LED rope that I have yet to try out. I bought it a couple of months ago and still sitting in the box. I just cant try one face...I have to replace them all to look right.


As for the splices...I prefer the clear. Looks cleaner, but the white plastic ones you can’t really see at night then they are on. During the day...sure can.


As for my online store that DLTSLC asked...I’m hoping open by next the weekend or possibly. Well, maybe not open, but raise the window blinds to see inside. Window shopping. I’m waiting for a couple of shipments (slow boat) so I can open up the front door.

Kevin

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Kevin will you be selling any of your sequences in your online store ? And will you be posting to the uk ?

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Another factor is something called "Electron Travel" which says that molecules of the metal of the filament slowly migrate from one side to the other over time...same happens to fuses. Eventually the filament is so "thin" from the loss, it fails.

I'm not an electrician, but I'd like to know more about "Electron Travel". To me, that sounds like an upscale travel agency for electrons. Didn't know they had such things... Can just ANY electron become a travel member, or it is limited only to union electrons?

Don't electrons travel all the time? Isn't that the fundamental basis of electricity? Does this phenomenon occur with other devices through which electrons flow? If not, why only in light bulbs? Are the female ends of all of our extension cords slowly getting fatter while the male ends are getting skinnier? How can we measure this? Are the diodes in LED lights spared this fate due to the lower voltages they use as compared to incans? Are the ceramic fuses in our controllers at risk also? Please... enquiring minds need to know...

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Not that it matters much in the end, but in my experience, they don't burn out right away, but the crimps on the internal wiring break or work lose. What this means is that sometimes, if you gently flex it at the cut point on either end, you'll get it to go back on.

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All right...not wishing to get into some long debate on electron travel but from what I was taught, this is the reason lamp filaments fail over time. The molecules or whatever, slowly move with time, due to electrons passing through the element. This causes them to get thinner all the time till they can no longer support the current load. Same happens with fuses. Couldn't begin to count all the fuses that i've replaced over the years that were simply "old". Nothing being wrong with the circuit it was in, just an old fuse. If this didn't happen, then lamps, fuses and so on, should last forever and obviously they don't.

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I buy all my rope light and most everything else from Action Lighting. I have tried other places for rope light and what I have found is that although I have experienced outages in the middle of sections of all the rope light I have used, it tends to happen less with A/L products. Also, they have the best price that I have found and also offer more extras when you purchase the 150' rolls. Other places give you less or NO cords and I believe they are the only place that gives you clips.

Bottom line is I find that light failures with rope light really aren't any less frequent that any other type of lights.

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dgrant,

in a word "thermostress". kind of like taking a wire and bend it in half, the straighten, and bend in half again. Repeat till the wire fails. Basicly same thing with your fuse or filiment. Both get warn or hot and then cool back off. And remember this, for every electron that leaves, one replaces it. Thus we have current flow.

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