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Jerry

More triac issues

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Well here we are, AGAIN,  4th night into the lighting season of year 4 , and we have another controller with a bad triac. The first year went flawless, but it's been going down hill ever since. Year 2 bad triac in controller no. 3,,year 3 bad triac in controller no. 5,,this year , bad triac in controller no. 2 and only been running for 4 nights this season. Resetting the controllers, per LOR instructions does nothing.  NO,, I am not overloading anything,,no. 3 had 4sets of 100 cnt incan. mini lights on it,,no.5 had 6 1/2 feet of incan. rope lights,, no. 2 had 3 feet of incan rope lights on it. Just seems odd that we have this same problem every year.  Now my question, is there any upgrades to these boards or triacs that will prevent this once and for all. Feeling disgusted.

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I've lost 2 this season, one had 4 sets of 25 ct c9 LEDs on it, the other a 50ct of mini lights. Each happened on a evening with a pretty good rain, idk if that's a strange coincidence or not.

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I don't run my show during a rain nor after a good rain. I always felt it was best to let everything dry out first.

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If I remember correctly, there was a bad batch of triacs one year, but that has been a few years ago now.. Maybe you still have some..

 

If you are blowing triacs there usually has to be a reason. Triac don't just fail for no reason, (other than a defective one),... 

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I had 4 or 5 on one controller go last year and each channel only had one candy cane. They were new "build you own" controllers so I'm assuming they were still part of the defective batch.

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The 'defective batch' is long gone through the supply chain.

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The 'defective batch' is long gone through the supply chain.

What he's saying is that maybe the controller that he's having issues with could have been part of that batch from a few years ago

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What he's saying is that maybe the controller that he's having issues with could have been part of that batch from a few years ago

AHHH! You are absolutely correct.  I missed the part where they are 4 years old.  Sorry!  

 

I do remember getting the OP's ticket yesterday and offered either additional Triacs, or for him to send the controller(s) in for repair.  

 

Unfortunately Triac failures do occur, and sometimes they occur for no known good reason.  I've created a couple of posts here about why/how they fail, but I realize it is frustrating when they do.

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I have a total of 12 controllers, with a half dozen bad triacs between them.  I've never fixed any, but to minimize potential problems, I ALWAYS leave a free channel on each box & if possible I leave 2.  Many a busy rainy/snowy night, I had to quickly change channels and remap the sequences.

 

I keep spreadsheets for all of my controllers with the bad channels marked to avoid programming to them.  This year I have also added red tape to the dongles for those channels.

 

FYI, if you are properly using GFCIs and keeping you plugs out of the water, even a driving rain storm shouldn't stop your show.  it doesn't mine - with the exception of a monsoon like rain a couple years ago - nearly had a river running through my front yard.

Edited by Liberty-Laser

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I generally have 1-3 triacs a year go bad.  I plan out my display with one open channel per controller so it is realtively easy to change things up on the fly... then the 1-3 controllers get sent back to the mother ship in January.  Frustrating but since this happens every year I now just look at it as inevitable.  I run all LED so I KNOW I'm not overloading anything.

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Triacs don't just blow from current overload. 

 

I have about 16 or so controllers and I have had one bad triac in 4 years.. Not sure why others keep loosing them..

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I have triacs go out each year. LOR is great on getting them shipped to me. Being they are switches I don't see how weather would affect them.

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I don't think it is weather that affects them.  More like issues with strings that get wet maybe.. perhaps ground currents? Don't know..

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Thanks for all the input , just seems to me that with almost everyone is having this problem, I think LOR would be working on something more robust . FYI my show is not running tonight due to an impending thunderstorm here in Pa. , all controllers are unplugged from their power source.

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I don't think it is weather that affects them.  More like issues with strings that get wet maybe.. perhaps ground currents? Don't know..

The last two that went bad was on a dry night. The show ran fine for four hours. Then , the next morning , I found lights were stuck on.

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AHHH! You are absolutely correct.  I missed the part where they are 4 years old.  Sorry!  

 

I do remember getting the OP's ticket yesterday and offered either additional Triacs, or for him to send the controller(s) in for repair.  

 

Unfortunately Triac failures do occur, and sometimes they occur for no known good reason.  I've created a couple of posts here about why/how they fail, but I realize it is frustrating when they do.

I have accepted your offer of new triacs to do the repairs. Thanks  BTW not all the problem controllers are four years old.

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Ok.. you guys that get back triacs.. I have a question.. are any of those channels being used for incans?  I have a long shot idea..

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The show ran fine for four hours. Then , the next morning , I found lights were stuck on.

That's how it went for us last year with one controller.

Out of the 20-ish controllers we have run... this was the problem child. Two incan candy canes per channel so there was next to no draw. Wetness didn't seem to matter. And moving the canes to a different controller worked for the rest of the year. We'd lose a channel every few days.

Now saying that, LOR controllers are kick ass imho. They can take a beating and keep going. The few issues we've had has not affected our love for lights or LOR. ;-)

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Unfortunately, there are many ways a Triac can be blown.  Yes, 99% of them are due to them being overloaded in some way by the customer.  The other 1% are typically mysteries.  I wrote a whole post about that some time ago.

 

What I do see is that Triac failures tend to cluster.  But (with that one exception several years ago) they don't cluster around production runs, sale dates, or even product line.  They tend to cluster around users and/or the where (the display/stage) they are being used.  Please, do not take that the wrong way.  I am not saying AT ALL the customers are intentionally destroying Triacs.  Just that the environment they are being used in is what MAY BE causing the issue.

 

There are so many different places to use controllers that we can't just pin down a single reason.

 

Since Triacs are solid state devices, all it takes is one-half of a single electrical cycle for it to blow up if something has gone wrong.  For example. and I am not saying that this is what happened to the OP, if you have an incan set that 'goes nova' -- IE, a cascading failure because of too many burnt out bulbs.  Fuses are slow, and here you have a set that is most likely showing as a dead short.  Before the fuse has a chance to pop, the Triac is already damaged.  Sure you only had .10 amps of lights on the channel, but while those shunts were burning off the insulation material, you may have been consuming tens or hundreds of amps. If you are (un)lucky, every one of the shunts closed, and the fuse blew.  But not before taking the triac with it.

 

Here is an interesting story.  While it is not about Triacs, it does show that environment plays a critical role in failures.  A year ago a user discovered that whenever his electric fence charged/discharged he would get strange lighting on 1-3 particular channels.  (http://forums.lightorama.com/index.php?/topic/30707-yet-another-weird-problem/)   I can tell you with 100% certainty that there is NO WAY any of us would have been able to diagnose that if the user didn't find it himself.  Sure we have added that knowledge now, but would you have asked the customer "Are you using an Electric Fencer somewhere close?".  Or what about if the customer put the controller those few feet away?  Then there would have been no problem at all.

 

The Triacs we use in G1-2 controllers are rated for 2 times the amperage max per channel - You are limited to 8A per channel, and we use 16A Triacs.  In G3 controllers they are 3 times the max (24A).  That is well beyond the specs required and definitely in the 'heavy duty' category.  Triac failures will continue to occur, even on G3s unfortunately.

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I was thinking possible arcing from the incans that blow and the shunts that take over.. doesn't take much of an arc to spike the voltage or cause dv/dt problems.   Just a thought

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I have a total of 12 controllers, with a half dozen bad triacs between them.  I've never fixed any, but to minimize potential problems, I ALWAYS leave a free channel on each box & if possible I leave 2.  Many a busy rainy/snowy night, I had to quickly change channels and remap the sequences.

 

I keep spreadsheets for all of my controllers with the bad channels marked to avoid programming to them.  This year I have also added red tape to the dongles for those channels.

 

FYI, if you are properly using GFCIs and keeping you plugs out of the water, even a driving rain storm shouldn't stop your show.  it doesn't mine - with the exception of a monsoon like rain a couple years ago - nearly had a river running through my front yard.

 

It's not just about keeping plugs out of water. It's also how your lights are attached to the props/material and how that moisture can cause a ground.

I blew my GFCI with just a heavy fog (no rain prior to) one morning while trying to take a neat foggy shot picture.

 

And wouldn't it be easier to fix/replace a bad triacs in the off season and not go thru the hassle of changing sequence layouts and taping the dongles?

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Ok.. you guys that get back triacs.. I have a question.. are any of those channels being used for incans?  I have a long shot idea..

 

Nope... I'm 100% LED.

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It's not just about keeping plugs out of water. It's also how your lights are attached to the props/material and how that moisture can cause a ground.

I blew my GFCI with just a heavy fog (no rain prior to) one morning while trying to take a neat foggy shot picture.

 

And wouldn't it be easier to fix/replace a bad triacs in the off season and not go thru the hassle of changing sequence layouts and taping the dongles?

 

I've never replaced a triac.  I just move the object to a free channel & quickly modify the sequences.  An hour or two tops for all of my songs and voice-overs.  However, after maybe 8 years of doing this, I probably should replace the half dozen or so this next off season.

Edited by Liberty-Laser

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I've never replaced a triac.  I just move the object to a free channel & quickly modify the sequences.  An hour or two tops for all of my songs and voice-overs.

Then to go back and change the sequences again....

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Sad thing is , I had NO burned out bulbs, 0 . Mike do you know if the triacs that LOR is sending me will be the 24A or the 16A . BTW, they haven't arrived yet.

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