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Steve398

My first year hanging with the big boys

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Hi Everyone,

I have been putting up Christmas lights for years. It's really the only decorating I do since I live alone. I have been admiring the YouTube videos and each year I tell myself I'm going to add music to my lights "one of these years". Then work / life happens and I forget about it until December, by which time I figure it's too late to get started, so I tell myself "next year...". I travel quite a bit for work, so some years I am busy and away from home until just before Christmas, and some I am actually home long enough to spend time on my lights. I bought a new house earlier this year (no more rentals), and I got home before Thanksgiving, plus I have enough vacation accumulated to take off most the month of December. So 2 weeks ago I stopped making excuses and bought the residential LOR package (I was literally giddy when it arrived, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.). After lurking in the forums for several days (this is my first post) I figured out how to get my first animation show running on a schedule and I'm pretty happy with it. And of course as soon as I got it working I ordered a 2nd controller (it arrived today). I believe people here refer to that as the "addiction"; again, not ashamed. I'm not into the RGB / dumb vs smart / pixel / flying arches / turning my roof into a video monitor style of decorating.

Yet.

Baby steps.

This years display will remain very simple, I have a 3 season porch on the front of my house with a dozen 5 ft tall windows on 3 walls. I hung mini-light window decorations and created a 1 minute blinking / ramping / twinkling / shimmering on/off animation sequence for them, then set up a schedule to run from 5 - 11 PM. I also have C9 LED lights on the eaves, and C6 lights around the "groups" of windows on the outside of the house and will incorporate those with the 2nd controller later next week, as well as a few more decorations I have in the basement. Those are controlled by a timer (for now) and run independently of the interior window decorations. I am trying hard to not make it look "cluttered", so having the window lights come on and off randomly helps. If you noticed, I have cut-outs of the Grinch, Max the dog, and Cindy Lou Who in  the window; those are my "theme". The interior windows are deep set (toward the outside) so I was able to add white mini lights around the inside of my windows to illuminate them "occasionally". With the lights off, they almost disappear. I plan to use mostly humorous type music (later) to keep with the theme. I love the Christmas Can Can.

I'm going to figure out the best way to mount the lights to... something, so I don't have to spend each year stapling each strand to my woodwork. I want to be able to hang each section as one unit, or at least faster than having to move the ladder 20 times. Finding strings of lights JUST the right length is always difficult. I may need to invest in the lamp cord / zip style lights so I can adjust them to any length I want, or maybe find a way to hide the tail end of a string of lights if they are too long. I'll work on that throughout the spring / summer as work permits. I want to wrap each window on the outside so I can control them individually; maybe add some rope lights of different colors under the eaves for both mood lighting and to emphasize big sounds; as well as icicle lights under the white LEDs on the peaks; and maybe add up to 4 singing faces (although I admit there will be little room for them, unless I put them on top of the highest peak, but I'm not thrilled about the idea of fastening them too the roof). I think I can hang several strings of lights horizontally on the bushes in front and (maybe) use them to show up / down movement in some of the music. I'll have to see how that works.

I'm limited on space, as you can see from the pictures I have a very narrow lot. My driveway is on the left, and only a 12 ft wide area on the right side of the house for decorating. The front yard is less than 8 ft to the sidewalk. Not many houses in my neighborhood are decorated beyond a few strings of icicle lights on the gutters, so I kinda feel like I am over-doing it, but I do this for me, no one else has to appreciate it. To do everything I want I figure I'll need 4 or 5 controllers. To justify the cost, I'll be running shows as often as I can to get my money's worth. Luckily I only have to justify the cost to myself; and I'm easy to persuade.

I'm always interested in suggestions, so let me know what you think. I'm really admiring what some of you are doing with your lights and am always looking for the next bright idea to "borrow" (see what I did there?).

Steve

Fond du Lac, WI

Christmas Lights 02.jpg

Christmas Lights 03.jpg

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Congrats and welcome to the madness.  Regarding string lengths, buy some C9 Socket line and bulbs and build the perfect application for each section.  Tag/label them and each year it is a simple installation.  There are some companies out there that sell lighting strips that you could mount around the framing (or to it) and then just clip the lights in.  With the limited space that you have, you may want to consider multiple strings of different color lighting for the roof line,  firesticks for vertical movement with controllers, mini trees in yard (few on each side, and/or arches along the driveway and sidewalk. 

As to surrounding neighbors, they will come around next year with a little more to keep up.  We went animated last year and this year many of my neighbors throughout the community have increased their personal displays and I hear it from the families each night when viewing ours.

My best advice is to set a plan for style and color.  About 5yrs ago I made the commitment to upgrade to much better quality products and stop buying from the box stores.  In doing so, I chose my three color style (R, W, G) and then purchased from authorized vendors when running sales.

 

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Hi Steve,

Welcome and I think you did a great job!  It looks like you've got some nice bushes in the front that you can put lights on as you want to expand.  

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Welcome to the madness! those bushes are begging for net lights!

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4 minutes ago, oilmoney said:

Welcome to the madness! those bushes are begging for net lights!

I've thought about net lights on the bushes, but that would mean those lights are either on or off during my shows. I also thought about hanging several rows of lights horizontally, and then several columns vertically (creating a net-like design) for more options for my sequences, but that would mean adding 1 controller per bush. I'm not sure that's the best way to do this. I'll have to look around some more and see what others have done. Maybe I'm overthinking it.

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2 hours ago, JPat said:

Congrats and welcome to the madness.  Regarding string lengths, buy some C9 Socket line and bulbs and build the perfect application for each section.  Tag/label them and each year it is a simple installation.  There are some companies out there that sell lighting strips that you could mount around the framing (or to it) and then just clip the lights in.  With the limited space that you have, you may want to consider multiple strings of different color lighting for the roof line,  firesticks for vertical movement with controllers, mini trees in yard (few on each side, and/or arches along the driveway and sidewalk. 

As to surrounding neighbors, they will come around next year with a little more to keep up.  We went animated last year and this year many of my neighbors throughout the community have increased their personal displays and I hear it from the families each night when viewing ours.

My best advice is to set a plan for style and color.  About 5yrs ago I made the commitment to upgrade to much better quality products and stop buying from the box stores.  In doing so, I chose my three color style (R, W, G) and then purchased from authorized vendors when running sales.

 

I think the socket light style is the way to go too. But I worry that C9 size bulbs are too big for around the windows. I have C9 LEDs on the eaves now (you can see in the pictures) and they are great, but I don't want the lights below that to be "too much". Mostly because of how close the house is to the street. I think the C6 size is better for around the windows, and I may use some C7s in the empty space above the windows, I'll see if I can find those in the socket style. I'm not looking forward to replacing all my lights, but I want this to look right.

I have a plan in mind for what goes on the house. I have some ideas for the yard. And I was thinking the same color combo you are using (let's face it, those ARE the Christmas colors).

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1 hour ago, jfuller8400 said:

Hi Steve,

Welcome and I think you did a great job!  It looks like you've got some nice bushes in the front that you can put lights on as you want to expand.  

Thanks!!!

I will be doing something with the bushes, just need to figure it out.

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Also, as much as you can afford it, go LED's as much as possible.  I finally have my show about 98% LED this year and it makes a HUGE difference in power consumption (especially if you're talking C9's).

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6 hours ago, oilmoney said:

Welcome to the madness! those bushes are begging for net lights!

Say no to net lights IMO.  

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5 hours ago, Steve398 said:

I think the socket light style is the way to go too. But I worry that C9 size bulbs are too big for around the windows. I have C9 LEDs on the eaves now (you can see in the pictures) and they are great, but I don't want the lights below that to be "too much". Mostly because of how close the house is to the street. I think the C6 size is better for around the windows, and I may use some C7s in the empty space above the windows, I'll see if I can find those in the socket style. I'm not looking forward to replacing all my lights, but I want this to look right.

I have a plan in mind for what goes on the house. I have some ideas for the yard. And I was thinking the same color combo you are using (let's face it, those ARE the Christmas colors).

I don't think the C9's will be too much as the spacing is generally 12" apart.  I have them around my lower windows and also the front door.  That being said, I understand your concern but look into C7 retrofits so you can still cut/design perfect lengths for quick installation each year.

 

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1 hour ago, JPat said:

I don't think the C9's will be too much as the spacing is generally 12" apart.  I have them around my lower windows and also the front door.  That being said, I understand your concern but look into C7 retrofits so you can still cut/design perfect lengths for quick installation each year.

 

I'll look into the C7 retrofit.

As it happens, I was looking for something else today and found my four old 12 ft strings of incandescent C9 socket lights. I bought the LEDs this year 'cause I couldn't find the old ones.

I still can't find my old icicle lights.

I hate moving.

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2 hours ago, Steve398 said:

I'll look into the C7 retrofit.

As it happens, I was looking for something else today and found my four old 12 ft strings of incandescent C9 socket lights. I bought the LEDs this year 'cause I couldn't find the old ones.

I still can't find my old icicle lights.

I hate moving.

Hate to say it, ditch the incan's and go to the LED's.  Buy after the new year or in summer to get a nice discount.  

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6 minutes ago, JPat said:

Hate to say it, ditch the incan's and go to the LED's.  Buy after the new year or in summer to get a nice discount.  

That was what I meant. I think I saw where you can buy LED bulbs that will screw into the old sockets. So I have 48 feet to get me started.

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30 minutes ago, Steve398 said:

That was what I meant. I think I saw where you can buy LED bulbs that will screw into the old sockets. So I have 48 feet to get me started.

Yes, there are C7 retrofits. I buy all of my lights from Holiday Light Express that has a great sale from Jan 1 - Feb 27th and save a fair amount.  Do yourself a favor and don't by the stuff from the box stores if you can help it.

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