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SuperMatt

How soon is it safe to turn things on post-rainstorm

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We had RAIN in Las Vegas!  A whole 0.3".  Not a big deal to me -- I just moved here from Georgia, but the whole community has been freaking out.

 

When I got home from work, the G3-MP3 player was OFF and all my lights were dark.  I unplugged the cords feeding power to my two units and let the storm pass on through last night.

 

Given the fact that the system somehow shut itself off last night, I'm curious what all of you do to get things up and running after a storm.  I don't want to damage any equipment any more than it may have already been, but would like to get things back up and running for the next dry day we have.

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Wow….. .03" of rain?  We'll get that in 5 minutes!  Today we're suppose to get about an inch.  Between now and March in Oregon all it does is rain.  I envy people that can put up their lights when it's not pouring outside.

 

This is only my first year but for my Halloween show I had no problems whatsoever and it rained solid for 2 weeks.  I cover all my controllers with a black trash bag not only for the rain but to help conceal them.  I make sure it goes over the units and covers the cords, just tying it off at the bottom.

 

Then I also make sure that every element I have plugged into that the plug in is off the ground with the female end pointing down so any water that hits the plug can get out.  Everything is plugged into a GFI circuit.

 

Perhaps one of your controllers blew a fuse?  I would check all your connections and if it's not pouring go ahead and plug it back in.  Just my $.02.

 

Eric

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The most likely cause was a GFCI tripped somewhere.  If you can figure out what tripped it, that will help.  If it's not obvious, unplug everything, reset the GFCI, and start plugging in one thing at a time.  If the GFCI trips when one particular thing is plugged in, leave it unplugged and continue the testing until all devices are either plugged in and working, or left unplugged because they would cause a GFCI trip.  Now take a good look at the tripping device or devices and try to identify the cause and fix it.  If everything successfully powers up and works, you are good to go.  Be forewarned that if you get more rain, it will likely happen again until you identify the cause.  It also means that there is likely a potential current leak somewhere that should be looked into.

 

I also came home last night to rain and half the yard dark.  Funny part is that the "Christmas" stuff was all running, and almost everything dark was part of the year round landscape lighting.  I have 2 permanent housings in my front yard that have lighting stuff in them  The "DC" column has two 16 channel DC cards, a Servo Dog, and a SanDevices E6804.  I found evidence that there had been a little water in it, but the boards were all dry.  The "AC" column was a different story.  This one has two 20A AC circuits feeding it with four dual outlet receptacles, a 12V power supply, my FM transmitter, a network switch, and a WiFI access point.  Everything in there was soaked (the power supply got the worst of it), and the GFCI that the power supply was plugged into was tripped.  I had an evening commitment so I could not do anything about it, so I just went over to the breaker panel and killed both breakers to make sure nothing was energized.  When I got home I pulled all the wet stuff out and dried it as well as practical and left it in the house overnight.  Tonight I will get out the isopropyl alcohol and a toothbrush and clean everything and dry it again (the power supply was clearly dirty inside).  After it's all dry, I start testing the stuff that got wet.  The only part of the wet stuff that is critical to the show is the power supply, and I have several available spares so that's not a big problem.  The bigger problem is figuring out how the water got in and fixing that.  I'm not putting stuff back in until I resolve the water leak, or there is no more rain in the forecast.  We're supposed to get more rain for the next day or so so I'm likely dark for the next couple evenings :angry: .

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I know, right? I can already tell I'm going to miss the longer multi-day rainstorms. But that's what I get for moving to the desert.

 

I like the trash bag idea. (Tempted to make a snarky comment about the bag color. heh) And those are some great troubleshooting tips for going through the system one-at-a-time.   (I guess this means I get to haul the laptop outside and finally learn the Hardware Utility once and for all...or make really tedious custom animation sequences!)

 

I started putting those baby safety plug covers in any open outlet (like on my 3-way splitters). Those are taken care of, but now I'm realizing that every string of lights has a female port on BOTH ends to make them string-along for a traditional Christmas display. My package of 36 covers ran out WAY too fast -- and that was just on my arches. GRRR  I guess I'm headed back to the store.

 

//

 

The water is a bit discouraging, and yes, I know things will be up and running once the storms pass; but, at the moment, it's frustrating. I wish I could put the whole house in a transparent termite tent and keep EVERYTHING dry!

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We had RAIN in Las Vegas!  A whole 0.3".  Not a big deal to me -- I just moved here from Georgia, but the whole community has been freaking out.

 

When I got home from work, the G3-MP3 player was OFF and all my lights were dark.  I unplugged the cords feeding power to my two units and let the storm pass on through last night.

 

Given the fact that the system somehow shut itself off last night, I'm curious what all of you do to get things up and running after a storm.  I don't want to damage any equipment any more than it may have already been, but would like to get things back up and running for the next dry day we have.

We had the same rain go through here last night and supposed to get it again this evening and tomorrow.  I had one trip last night, but haven't made it out to look for the culprit yet.  Based on past experience, whenever I have had one trip, it's because I missed elevating one of the extension cord ends off the ground.  I use these small yard light stakes to elevate electrical connections above the ground.  On other occasions, I have had a rabbit bite into the cord and as soon as it rains, a bit of moisture will trip the circuit.  If I can't find anywhere that isn't elevated, I usually run the extension cords through my hands looking for a nick in the wire (disconnected from the power source, of course).  If I just find a bite mark, I will use liquid electrical tape to seal it.  If the insulation is gnawed and wire is exposed, I cut it out and put new plugs on the end or just replace the cord.  I would say that the majority of my faults are due to the rabbits.

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I keep everything powered on during rain and snow storms.  I have six separate GFCI circuits feeding the display so only part of the display will kick off if I get a ground fault.  It rained last night and everything stayed lit.   Last year one channel on my mega tree caused the GFCI to trip.  

 

I have a "Rain Show" that I play if things start to trip too frequently.  It shows some light animation, and plays a sound track that tells people the show is not running because of rain.

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I don't put bags over any of my 12 control boxes (4 AC, 4 DC, 3 CCR and 1 E682). I leave everything up and running rain snow or shine....even in the 50mph winds.

Never an issue. The boxes are designed for the weather. Just don't place them in a puddle, hang them upside down, or have the plugs coming out of the controllers in water. I fear my DC boxes will overheat inside a bag anyway.

My boxes are located on my house or on a stand on my fence. Basically, hung vertically.

For AC, I don't do anything special to the plugs. Meaning, no baby proof inserts. When I was a kid we put up tons of lights on the house, in the trees, bushes whatever. Never once did we try to protect those cable end outlets. I mean, they didn't even have the baby inserts in the 70s and 80s anyway. Point is, we did all that and never an issue from rain. As long as you don't put them in a puddle or gutter. I mean, you could do things to make it fail. But normal use we never had a problem.

That said, for my singing faces which are AC into led ropelight , I do use waterproof connectors. But only the faces. And my design was for cosmetic appeal....the connectors are smaller than plugs.

DC, pixels and dumb RGB, all have waterproof connectors. The problem here is the signal connectors. That can cause issues. Yes, issues with DC and water is a concern, but the signal and power shorting causes big issues.

Speaking of signal, all my cat 5 are now inside the boxes. I tried quick connects but those corrode and break fast. Unpredictable results to your show when that happens. I know there is spray to prevent this but inside the dry box does better.

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I took out all my GFIs I have way to may problems with them over the years even with my static displays I fund they do not like wire frames and moisture at all. So anyone that comes in my yard with the show on beware :D  I figure if there was a short the breaker or the fuse will blow or worse case I fry a board but I think LOR may have a few more they would like to sell

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No rabbits here to chew on the wires that I know of, but I have seen two scorpions! :)

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For me, we haven't finished installing all the lights... we have 3 strands of LED rope light zip-tied to plexiglass strips for 80% of the house... which is freaking heavy, especially when hoisting it up to a second story which we haven't tried yet. I'd say we are 1/5 of the way there. HOWEVER, all of our cords run under the door (we're using SPT-2 wire and vampire plugs) and into our garage to the 2 controllers mounted on the wall and is plugged into a GFCI surge protector power strip that is then plugged into the GFCI-standard wall outlet. This guarantees protection against water (except for the plugs that are attached to our vampire extension cords - those we will go back and protect.) The best advice I can give you is to wrap the plugs (going from light strand to extension cord or light strand to light strand) where they meet with electrical or duct tape before they get wet. If they do get wet, allow the plugs to dry off, then go wrap them. This'll help seal those plugs up and prevent water from seeping into a plug that accidentally got yanked and separated a bit too much, exposing the plug. Just my little idea... take it with as much weight as you see fit.

 

Good luck!

LN and crew.

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LOL, Sorry but I have to laugh some, We get freakish amounts of rain and wind here every day! At least we dont have to deal with the snow. Black bags over the controllers and dongles, every controller at least 8" off the ground, every single string ends taped around the ends and around all seams where two or more strings join together with electrical tape ( three rolls from the dollar store ) Very cheap insurance. Haven't had a single string or circuit go out ( yet,,,fingers crossed ). Sure it akes another 15 seconds or so per strand when putting them up, but that is a great trade off for not having to be able to run a show.

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I used silicone on the ends of all my LED's strings..  the same for all my RGB dumb strips..  no issues so far and it rained all last night and into this morning...  I think electrical tape is cheaper but I already had the silicone for my RGB projects, I bought a case as it was cheaper...

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Why would anyone seal or tape string ends?????????  I run my show through downpours & don't have issues.  If I do, I find the wet plug & pick it off the ground.  It's really that simple.

Edited by Liberty-Laser

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We had RAIN in Las Vegas!  A whole 0.3".  Not a big deal to me -- I just moved here from Georgia, but the whole community has been freaking out.

 

When I got home from work, the G3-MP3 player was OFF and all my lights were dark.  I unplugged the cords feeding power to my two units and let the storm pass on through last night.

 

Given the fact that the system somehow shut itself off last night, I'm curious what all of you do to get things up and running after a storm.  I don't want to damage any equipment any more than it may have already been, but would like to get things back up and running for the next dry day we have.

I live in So Cal and we had a lot of rain, and my lights, controllers and inflatables all stayed on during the multi day storm.  I assumed somethign would go wrong and nothing did.  You need to inspect your cords. 

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I reattached the controllers today and everything worked just fine. I really have no idea what went wrong, but glad things are working now!

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I took out all my GFIs I have way to may problems with them over the years even with my static displays I fund they do not like wire frames and moisture at all. So anyone that comes in my yard with the show on beware :D I figure if there was a short the breaker or the fuse will blow or worse case I fry a board but I think LOR may have a few more they would like to sell

Unless your yard is not accessible, please rethink not using GFCI's. The light-strand fusing and breakers are designed to protect circuit wiring from catching fire in a direct short-circuit situation. GFCI receptacles and breakers are designed TO PROTECT PEOPLE. They trip in 5 to 10 milliamps. Just get the plug ends off the ground. No baby plugs or tape on females. Let the moisture run on through. It was rainy all day yesterday here & I didn't have any GFCI trips.

Edited by Mega Arch

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I know, right? I can already tell I'm going to miss the longer multi-day rainstorms. But that's what I get for moving to the desert.

 

I like the trash bag idea. (Tempted to make a snarky comment about the bag color. heh) And those are some great troubleshooting tips for going through the system one-at-a-time.   (I guess this means I get to haul the laptop outside and finally learn the Hardware Utility once and for all...or make really tedious custom animation sequences!)

 

I started putting those baby safety plug covers in any open outlet (like on my 3-way splitters). Those are taken care of, but now I'm realizing that every string of lights has a female port on BOTH ends to make them string-along for a traditional Christmas display. My package of 36 covers ran out WAY too fast -- and that was just on my arches. GRRR  I guess I'm headed back to the store.

 

//

 

The water is a bit discouraging, and yes, I know things will be up and running once the storms pass; but, at the moment, it's frustrating. I wish I could put the whole house in a transparent termite tent and keep EVERYTHING dry!

they make a waterproof electrician's tape, i use that for all my connections and open plugs.  so far so good.

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I was given some advice about taping and plugging up ends on lights, don't do it as they are designed for outdoor use therefore designed to drain. I have 2 of my controllers under the eaves, they don't get any water on them at all. I have a third in the yard, in a plastic bin. All connections have been made inside that that so it keeps the rain and snow off. The rest just lay in the yard. We had 2 solid days of rain, my show ran through one of the storms without so much as one problem. Second night. I have 1 inflatable in the yard. It is Santa and I got him specifically for one song. On the second night he would not inflate. The rain over night had water logged his hat and he was not going to inflate with all that water. Got it out, no problems since.

 

Check your plugs on the ground, they may have been sitting in a puddle. Testing one by one is a great idea to locate the problem and make corrections. Make notes in your notes on what you found. Great for future reference.

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SuperMatt,

 I'm in Las Vegas too. No problems with the rain. I sent you a PM

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my problem is not cord ends in water it is the wire frames stuck in the ground when the ground gets wet and soft I trip gfis with random props and beside they should stay out of the yard LOL

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