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ericg2000

CTB16PC Controllers power cords

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What's the pros and/or cons of only using one power cord to power a CTB16PC Controller? Just curious. I noticed a guy selling some in the coffee shop that were only using one and I recall when putting mine together there's a jumper on the board that allows one cord to power both sides.

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The pro is that you will only need one outlet to plug in your controller, rather than two. The con is that you reduce the total amperage the board can handle from 30 amps down to 15 amps. If you are running LEDs, this should not be a problem. If you are running incans, this could limit the number of lights you hook up to the controller.

 

-Paul

Edited by Paul R
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I did so digging, so correct me if I'm wrong.

One power cord is only 15 amp total split across the 2 sides, and 2 power cords is 30 amps (15a each side of the board). If that's the case why would you only use one power cord?

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To reduce the number of extension cords and plugs you need to plug in. When you get up to a large number of controllers, this can make a big cost savings.

Edited by Paul R

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Also keep in mind that both sides compliment each other. I believe its the right side that allows the left to function.

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All the input so far is right. Think about it. What is your power requirement on your elements. Are you driving LEDs? Are you driving high amperage incandescent elements?

If you have 2 power cords and truly need 30 amps, you have to have power coming from 2 separate circuits to manage the load.

Most realize after a while that one is the most efficient way to go, as most of the homeowners just don't need 30 amps from one controller. Again MOST, not all. If you have 2 power cords, at some point you find yourself using 3 way taps and then plugging one power cord to the controller anyway.

Lastly don't forget that the max load on one channel is 8 amps.

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I did so digging, so correct me if I'm wrong.

One power cord is only 15 amp total split across the 2 sides, and 2 power cords is 30 amps (15a each side of the board). If that's the case why would you only use one power cord?

I've got 50+ CTB16PC controllers and as we've been switching over to LEDs we're down to exactly two controllers that still power incans. Except for those two, every other controller now has only one power cord. (And most of those are spt2.) I'm still adding controllers each year but I no longer use very many heavy duty extension cords. Most of them sit in tubs these days. Paul hit it on the head: reduced cost and reduced bulk of cords laying all over the yard.

Edited by George Simmons
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I'm mostly LEDs and I'm only using 3 controllers (this year). The only incandescents I plan to use are my arches and mini trees. And the way I have it set up they're on different controllers.

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I dont have a large LED load per channel. Alot of the channels only have 100 ct or less. So what I have done is daisy chain the power to  my controllers. I actually have SPT cord 16ga to the first few controllers and then switch over to 18ga. Last year is the first year that I started a second power daisy chain some of my new controllers. A Kill-A-Watt is needed to do this correctly so you do not overload the SPT wire and cause it to melt down. That and follow the 80% rule.

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I have one power cord that powers 4 controllers.  I am all LED and have low power usage. No need for extra power cords.

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Mostly all LED for me.  I use a 3 way splitter, plug my two power cords into it and then run one extention cord to the outlet.  I had 6 controllers plugged into one power strip.

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I built a 5 duplex outlet box {10 power connections} to power 5 controllers, down  to 3 working and 1 disassembled controller with a bad channel, and it is plugged into a GFCI outlet.   Never had an issue with 5 controllers on this set up at all.   And my display is or was when I first stared a 70-30 mix, 70% incandescents and 30% LED, not it's the other way around.

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Most of my controllers ... Even when I was 0% led .... And had a lot of c9's ... With power balancing planning .... Used one supply cord per controller. Just a few of 20-25 controllers required 2 cords and just barely. Those huge cords on the LOR controllers are gross overkill for most display items which are 4.5a or less each (c9) but more typically .33a for a 100ct mini or .66 for 200ct.

Edited by taybrynn

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This topic is proof that great minds think alike.

This week I started assembling my new controllers from the Mad Grab... Two more to go.

I had these same questions and decided that my LED display would be good with one power cord.

I was going to test everything with a Kill o Watt this year.

 

Not only did I go to one cord, I also shortened the remaining cord.

I am not going to power my controllers with SPT.  I am burying conduit this year and running outdoor 12/3.

Half of my display is out by the road and I have a long U driveway.

 

 

Thanks for all of the tips in this topic guys.

Edited by MikeERWNC

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Remember it all comes down to the numbers us the Kill-a-watt for your application. I am mostly LED and am assembling boxes with multiple PC boards, and have one box with six boards run on one input cord.

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So when I get My controller (with no cords) If all my light strings are only two pronged, when I add the cords for each chanel do I have to have grounded plugs? it seems to me they are just there and nothing plugs into them any way.... Also trying to save money on wire and plugs.

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So when I get My controller (with no cords) If all my light strings are only two pronged, when I add the cords for each chanel do I have to have grounded plugs? it seems to me they are just there and nothing plugs into them any way.... Also trying to save money on wire and plugs.

Yes, you can use the 2 prong wires if you choose.

 

 However, if you do use them just beware that occasionally {it's rare} but you may find an item that has the 3 prong type plug on it, like on an item that uses a standard light bulb fixture could possibly have that grounded plug, like a blow mold {rare}.  But you could always pull the grounding prong off so that it fits the plug.  

 

Also if you use 2 prong female receptacles, you may want to be sure  that they are the polarized type, some of the newer items I've come across, like blow molds have had these "polarized" plugs, that is one side is larger than the other.  I have a few Blow Molds that have "polarized" plugs on them.

 

When installing your 2 prong female "polarized" plugs to the controller, the larger side is the white wire or "neutral", the smaller one is the black wire or "Hot", so you want to be sure you connect them to the proper connections inside the controller.   Most often the "Neutral" wire when stripped back is silver in color, the Hot is usually a bronze or gold color, but if you're making your own, the color of the interior wire may both be the same color.  

 

You'll need some type of tester to be certain you're connecting the neutral to neutral inside the controller and hot to hot inside the controller.  The hot side of the plug goes to the triac that controls the channel, the neutral is the bank of connections labeled at the bottom of the controller.

 

To test the connection a simple tester is just an LED, a couple of AA batteries and a couple of probes, one being long and needle-like to enter the female receptacle and the other probe could be an alligator clip to test the stripped end of the wire coming from the female receptacle.

 

Connect alligator clip to one of the stripped wires, then the needle-like probe into larger side of female plug,  If the LED lights, you've found the "Neutral" side, if not, move needle-like probe to opposite opening in female plug, if LED lights, you've found the "Hot" side.  

 

Just to make sure the cord will work always test both sides and get the LED to light, this not only indicates your wiring is good and will conduct power through it, but also shows which wire will connect to either the "Neutral" tab or "Hot" tab in the controller.

 

NEVER USE the TESTER ON a LIVE POWERED CIRCUITS!  This may cause damage to Triacs or other circuitry, along with damage to the tester and even yourself.    So always perform these type tests on NON-POWERED circuits and cords!

 

I use a tester like this to check my extension cords and dangles on a controller when I have an item go dark in my display, first by unplugging from the controller, testing the channel to be sure it's actually working, if yes, then I plug the non-working item into another channel on the controller, if it works in the other channel, then I'll start examining the extension cord to make sure it can conduct power, if not, I usually replace it with a back up extension cord and try and locate the issue and repair the extension cord I removed.  

 

Now if the channel IS NOT working, then I'll unplug all power to the controller and check the dangle to be sure it's able to conduct power {after the show is done for the night}, I disconnect the dangle from the internal PC board when I do this check, if it checks out okay and conducts, then I know I've got another issue, because if everything else checks out, the last remaining item would most often be the triac that controls that channel may have gone bad.  It happens from time to time.

 

I know, this is more info than you asked for, but felt the added info is something folks need to know, especially new folks coming in and wanting to make their own dangles and extension cords for their controllers and display.

 

Good Luck!

Edited by Orville

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This is my first year with LOR and I too thought that the double power cord of that size seemed like total overkill. I know that LOR probably had an overpriced attorney advise them to go that obnoxious to cover their rears. During the layout phase of my show I was trying to figure out the placement of my controllers for power management. I am running 3 controllers feeding 100,000 lights, aside from the strobes I am 100% led's. Rather than scattering the controllers all over the yard I think I've decided to make a bank of controllers this year fed from two seperate circuits. As my controller count grows I'll have to revisit this issue but I think I should be good this year.

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This is my first year with LOR and I too thought that the double power cord of that size seemed like total overkill. I know that LOR probably had an overpriced attorney advise them to go that obnoxious to cover their rears. 

 

One thing to consider. Light-O-Rama got it's start in 2002 or so (might be 03, not sure.) Back then LED lights weren't widely used. A 30 amp controller would be 2 15 amp circuits. I know my first year (2005) was 100% incandescent. I used every last bit of the 15 amps (12 when you go with 80% rule) of each side. 

 

Thus that's where the idea of two cords came from. 

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I've always, well try to be, under the adage "better safe than sorry", so I keep all my controllers with 2 power cords.    Just my preference.

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I've read numerous posts where people say they are using a "triple tap" adapter to plug the 2 cords coming from the CTB16PC into a single extension cord. It seems logical to use a double instead of a triple but I can't find any searcing the web. Does anyone have a source for an outdoor double tap adapter?

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Hmmmmm, can't find a double? Maybe that is why they use a triple. Just yanking your chain, most of the cords that are available come with a triple built in.

 

http://www.lowes.com/pd_618050-66906-UTAD50702___?productId=50244779&pl=1&Ntt=triple+extension+cord

Edited by Mr. P

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No shortage of triples. Just wanting a double (adapter) and thought someone who's been doing this awhile might have a source.

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