Jump to content
Light-O-Rama Forums
Stephen Blue

Triac Failure Frequency

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

I currently have 16 controllers - 8x 1602W's in custom cases and 8x CTB16PC's in LOR cases. Of my 1602W's, I've had exactly 1 problem in the past 3 years, and that involved some kind of electrical short that fried a board.

Of the CTB16PC's, 4 of my 8 boards have suffered a triac failure, 2 of which were less than a year old.

I love the small, light cases of the PC boards, but I'm beginning to question their quality. Is this unfounded? Have others who use a mixed set of controllers seen a tendency for one to have issues moreso than the other?

I know triac's are considered by many here to be a "simple solder" fix - but I do not have the knowledge to fix it myself and must contact LOR to do so. Thankfully last year when these problems cropped up I was able to re-route spare channels to cover most of the issues. But still, it's concerning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, this is only our second year using LOR. We have some of each and never as much as blown a fuse. I don't know how the plastic cases could cause the problem your having.

Jerry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never lost a triac where it wasn't my fault (e.g. a wiring harness going bad and causing a short). Knock on wood. All of my boards are either PC series or are in similar cases.

It's really worth learning how to fix a dead triac yourself. Saves you a lot of hassle and money... It's a bigger PITA to remove the board from the box and the heat sink from the board (for the high power ones) than it is to actually replace the triac.

EDIT: For full disclosure, I've never loaded my channels up very much, even before I moved to mostly LEDs

Edited by Tim Fischer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What production year? There are reports that the 2010 controllers are considerably more prone to triac issues than the older ones, but still not the rate of issues you are reporting. From what I understand, there were some improvements in the parts used part way through 2011.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This will be my 4th year. All of my controllers (started with 4 the first year, add 2, second year, 2 more last and 4 this year). All are the kits that you solder together. Never a fuse or triac has failed. I suppose a good part of it is how good is your commercial power and the quality of the loads you put on it. Are you by any chance running any motors off of your controllers? Any fog machines or those dear that move their head or inflatables?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Triacs typically are hardy beasts, unless you mistreat them 1 of 2 ways:

1 - You overheat them by placing too large of a load on them with an insufficient heat sink

2 - You overload them by exceeding their amp rating.

Overloading them can easier than you think. Since they are solid-state devices, there is little room for error. This is very true if you are running loads that are not purely resistive, or loads that may draw 2 to 3 times their running current when starting (for example, a motor).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Answers to questions:

Production year: 2 are '09, 2 are '11 (I think - sadly I don't remember exactly - they may be '10s - They're definitely gen3's though.)

Motors/Foggers/etc: No, I don't use anything except incan mini's & strobes in my animated section. The affected channels were only attached to minis.

Loads: Highest load on any one of my channels is 500 incan mini's, with most being 100 or 200. So, at most, 2 amps per channel, being VERY aggressive with amp count, with most being under 1 amp.

Edited by Stephen Blue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(In fact, I remember the 5 channels that went to 50%: 1 was a mega tree line with 200 lights. 2 were arch/light tube segments of 100 lights each. The other 2 were mini-trees with 200 lights each.)

As far as the quality of power - I assume it's fine. I set up at a commercial office building that was built in the late 70's... I suppose the only "issue" with the power I've noticed is when someone flushes the toilet and the well pump cuts on, I do see the display momentarily flicker.

(Funny side story - Back in '02, the first year I moved the display from my house in the woods to the more public venue, I did not know that an outside plug was on the same circuit as the well pump. I treated it as 20 amps of availability and maxed it out. It was a huge head scratcher why part of the display went out whenever someone flushed a toilet!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DevMike,

To your list we need to add #3.

#3, you have a 2010 Gen 3 board with defective Triacs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess I figured triacs going bad was just part of the deal. On average I have had 2-3 go bad each year. I send them to LOR each January, get them fixed by spring and have them for next year. Because of this, I always leave one channel open per controller as it makes for an easy mid-season switchc (although updating all the sequences is a pain). I run 9 controllers, all are CTB16PC's. None of them control motors, fans etc.... just lights. I am 100% LED and each channel draws, at max, less than an amp. The age of the controller doesn't seem to indicate triac failure either. Like I said, 2-3 a year, every year... cost of doing business I guess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess I figured triacs going bad was just part of the deal.

I've been running 5 years, with 9 CTB16PC controllers. Loads are mixed, one has 2 (two) wire-frame deer motors on it!

Not a single triac has ever failed!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...