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Hello!  If you were building a home and were thinking about your annual LOR set-ups what would you incorporate?  

We are building a home soon ourselves so we have the freedom to do what we want.  I'm already thinking about placement of GFCIs and separate circuits in the garage for future expansion.  But what else should I be thinking about?  More importantly, what would you all do?

Thank you!

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Instead of just putting wire in the walls, use conduit. When Cat 10 comes out you can easily replace it without tearing into walls. Make it big enough for multiple runs too.

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I will echo what Phil said - Conduit, conduit, and more conduit.  Even if you never use all of it, it's so easy to install conduit during construction, and FAR harder after the house is built.  Put in more conduit than you think you will use, and use larger conduit than you think you need.  You will thank yourself later.  Next step is document what you have.  I have an AutoCAD drawing.  Below is a screen capture from AutoCAD, but it is far easier to read if you click the link for a .pdf file (the forum does not understand .pdf files).  Most of the conduits show the length and diameter along with what circuits are in it.  Boxes list what devices are in that box.

http://newburghlights.org/images/Conduit_drawing_2017-03-02.pdf

Conduit_drawing_2017-03-02.png

Note that this drawing is a little out of date, but it was what I had already saved on my web server...

 

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I would put GFCI outlets under the eaves for roof lights. I would also have at least three seperate outdoor circuits around the perimeter of the house as I decorate on three sides due to living on a corner lot.

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4 minutes ago, Mr. P said:

I would put GFCI outlets under the eaves for roof lights. I would also have at least three separate outdoor circuits around the perimeter of the house as I decorate on three sides due to living on a corner lot.

Doesn't current building codes require outletat least  on all sides already? They certainly do here. This is in addition to Specific locations Like Patio or HVAC service (if the other is not within 15')

I agree, that they should be separate (circuits) from each  other and not share with any inside outlets that might see significant loads during 'show' hours.

 

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1 hour ago, TheDucks said:

Doesn't current building codes require outletat least  on all sides already? They certainly do here. This is in addition to Specific locations Like Patio or HVAC service (if the other is not within 15')

I agree, that they should be separate (circuits) from each  other and not share with any inside outlets that might see significant loads during 'show' hours.

 

Not here, one front and one back.

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If you are extending your display out into your yard I would also suggest dedicating some circuits that would be run underground to specific areas so you could easily connect your power in outlying areas without running extension cords.

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Totally agree on building power in several locations.  Here is a satellite view of my yard.  When I bought the house 28 years ago, there was no power in the front yard.  The two green arrows are a dedicated 20 amp circuit with a GFCI double outlet at the house and a standard double outlet at east end of the yard.  The red arrow is a dedicated 20 amp circuit with a GFCI double outlet.  The yellow arrow is a dedicated 20 amp circuit in the attic and currently has one GFCI double outlet and three standard double outlets.  The blue arrow is two 20 amp dedicated circuits.  Each circuit has a GFCI double outlet and a standard double outlet inside the brick column and one also has a standard double outlet on the outside of the column.  Additionally there is 1.5 inch conduits from inside the brick column to each of the two brick tree rings and one next to the flagpole.

AC_circuits.png

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Conduit.  Especially under the driveway and sidewalks.  Put a couple 3" lines under the driveway so you can run both power and sprinkler lines easily.  I ran a 3" pipe under the sidewalk on the side with my trees that are in the parkstrip.  I have 3 colors per tree, and 3 trees (5 at first).  That's 9 extension cords running to a controller.  I don't trust leaving a controller in the parkstrip with the way the snowplows sometimes pile it up.

8 hours ago, Capt_Bill_USMC said:

I'm already thinking about placement of GFCIs and separate circuits in the garage for future expansion

My power meter is on the side of my garage so I added a circuit panel in my garage for dedicated expansion lines outside. 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, k6ccc said:

I will echo what Phil said - Conduit, conduit, and more conduit.  Even if you never use all of it, it's so easy to install conduit during construction, and FAR harder after the house is built.  Put in more conduit than you think you will use, and use larger conduit than you think you need.  You will thank yourself later.  Next step is document what you have.  I have an AutoCAD drawing.  Below is a screen capture from AutoCAD, but it is far easier to read if you click the link for a .pdf file (the forum does not understand .pdf files).  Most of the conduits show the length and diameter along with what circuits are in it.  Boxes list what devices are in that box.

http://newburghlights.org/images/Conduit_drawing_2017-03-02.pdf

Conduit_drawing_2017-03-02.png

Note that this drawing is a little out of date, but it was what I had already saved on my web server...

 

If you are afraid you may create a document like this in the future... I highly recommend owning a few children.   They will knock the urge right out of you.

Edited by ItsMeBobO
  • Haha 1

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This is what is known as a regional mini (gfci) convention on this forum.    When 5 to 10 gather to discuss their mutual interest in extreme Christmas lighting. 

This is also what you get when you don't run power to the far points in your yard when you have the chance.  

ClumpyGFCIConvention.jpg

 

 

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Like wire coathangers.........they breed in the dark.

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13 hours ago, Mr. P said:

Not here, one front and one back.

I only have one on the side of my house{manufactured home, e.g. glorified mobile home}, and since it's linked to the bathroom outlet, every time my wife would plug in a hair blow dryer, pop goes the Circuit Breaker or the GFCI trips and shuts down the show{as well as all power in the Master Bathroom, Bedroom and the outside outlet}!   And it happens every time she plugs it in.    But if no show is in operation, she can use it just fine.  Go figure. LOL

So I am going to have to tap into one of the interior outlets in the front bedroom that's street side {front of house}, and use that for running power to an new outside GFCI outlet if I want to run shows and not have GFCI or Circuit Breaker trips every time she plugs in that blasted hair blow dryer!

And since nothing else would be plugged into that outlet I'd remove the interior power receptacle, replace with blank plate, so only the GFCI outlet would be on that circuit.   Since I can run 3 outside CTB16PC Controllers and the 5 RGB Controllers off a single circuit, that'd work fine for me.

 

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On 5/10/2019 at 11:09 PM, Orville said:

I only have one on the side of my house{manufactured home, e.g. glorified mobile home}, and since it's linked to the bathroom outlet, every time my wife would plug in a hair blow dryer, pop goes the Circuit Breaker or the GFCI trips and shuts down the show{as well as all power in the Master Bathroom, Bedroom and the outside outlet}!   And it happens every time she plugs it in.    But if no show is in operation, she can use it just fine.  Go figure. LOL

So I am going to have to tap into one of the interior outlets in the front bedroom that's street side {front of house}, and use that for running power to an new outside GFCI outlet if I want to run shows and not have GFCI or Circuit Breaker trips every time she plugs in that blasted hair blow dryer!

And since nothing else would be plugged into that outlet I'd remove the interior power receptacle, replace with blank plate, so only the GFCI outlet would be on that circuit.   Since I can run 3 outside CTB16PC Controllers and the 5 RGB Controllers off a single circuit, that'd work fine for me.

 

I really recommend NOT removing any existing outlet. Most places, these are the MINIMUMs required (builders are cheap. With custom homes, you usually get to tell the builder what you are willing to pay for ;) 

Every outlet on the branch CAN have its own GFCI, just use the LINE terminals on each. Only the outlets that DO NOT have a GFCI should be connected to the LOAD terminals.  The tricky part is to discover which pair of wires is the FEED (power) to connect to the Line, with the rest, connected to the load (down stream protected) You only need to worry about Downstream protection for outlets in Wet (sinks and shower,laundry) , Ground (dirt, concrete)

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If it was me, I'd have all my outside lighting circuits run from a subpanel, and a pretty big one at that. And I'd have the subpanel put in the garage (or if you don't have a garage, some other easily accessible place). Then it's MUCH easier to add new circuits without affecting the rest of the house. Then , when the decorative lighting is not use for a period of time, you can cut the entire panel off. AND, if you're handy and know how to do it,  it makes it easy to add a new circuit yourself if the panel can be shut off without affecting the rest of the house.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/12/2019 at 9:53 AM, TheDucks said:

I really recommend NOT removing any existing outlet. Most places, these are the MINIMUMs required (builders are cheap. With custom homes, you usually get to tell the builder what you are willing to pay for ;) 

Every outlet on the branch CAN have its own GFCI, just use the LINE terminals on each. Only the outlets that DO NOT have a GFCI should be connected to the LOAD terminals.  The tricky part is to discover which pair of wires is the FEED (power) to connect to the Line, with the rest, connected to the load (down stream protected) You only need to worry about Downstream protection for outlets in Wet (sinks and shower,laundry) , Ground (dirt, concrete)

I'm not actually removing the outlet, it is being replaced with an external GFCI outlet that would be wired in it's place.  The only difference being the interior outlet would no longer exist, as it's not a GFCI, but the external that would be wired to it's original wiring would replace this outlet with an external GFCI in a weather-proof box.   How I have been running my shows because of the GFCI and CB trips is run an orange outdoor power cord into the house that is connected to the GFCI outside outlet to run shows.  But having to keep a window cracked just doesn't work as well as drilling a new hole through the back of the existing outlet that would serve as the new outside GFCI outlets power.

It's not a difficult process{just time consuming} and just requires wiring the GFCI correctly, which is not all that difficult.  And I'd take out the interior outlet that feeds the new outside GFCI and put a blank cover plate over the now empty outlet box {except for the power wires going to the external GFCI.  This way, that outlet would never have anything else plugged into except the RGB and CTB16PC Controllers.  This way the outlet wouldn't be overloaded and the outlet I am planning on using is on a separate circuit all on it's own.   So shouldn't be an issue, as I've ran my show from a single outlet in the past with no issues since it's mostly all L.E.D. with a very small amount of incandescent bulbs being used.   And as soon as I can find decent, bright L.E.D. replacement bulbs for the incandescent bulbs, they'll all be changed out as well eventually.

 

EDIT: BTW: This particular outlet I'm changing out is in a front bedroom, no wet areas, sinks or anything like that to worry about.

Edited by Orville

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Thank you for the replies.  All great info. I'm going to reach out to everyone of you individually to clarify some things with you to make sure I understand correctly.

My house will have a garage.  Was thinking of a similar setup to the Johnson Family Christmas where all of his controllers (raspberries) are in his garage.  That means lots of ext chords, but I have over 85 right now anyway, what's a few more.  Still plan to put adequate GFCIs outside under my covered porch.  Going to design storage for all my lights/controllers/props.  Any ideas?  My singing faces are a pain to move around/store.  Need to consider FM transmission when I build and how people will view the show.  The wife is totally on board with this stuff and helped me choose land to build our home that supported having a light show, that mean no homes hanging on the side of a mountain.  Had to have a large front yard.  Our land is 18 acres with 400 feet of road frontage and its 600 feet to our home from the road, so that is a huge area to do a serious light show.  

On a side note, I will be about an hour from Shadracks Christmas Wonderland and about an hour from Christmas Done Bright and not too far from Darryl Brown of Christmas Light Show.  Very excited about all of this!

 

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Putting the controllers in the garage is nice if you feel they are more secure and had a smaller lot. However, with that much land it would be easier and more convenient to place them close to the props.

If or should I say when you get into pixels placing the controller in the garage is not an option as pixels are distance limited. You would need a ton of null pixels and with the 5v and 12v circuits you wuld have to worry about voltage drop over property that large.

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12 hours ago, Mr. P said:

Putting the controllers in the garage is nice if you feel they are more secure and had a smaller lot. However, with that much land it would be easier and more convenient to place them close to the props.

If or should I say when you get into pixels placing the controller in the garage is not an option as pixels are distance limited. You would need a ton of null pixels and with the 5v and 12v circuits you wuld have to worry about voltage drop over property that large.

Mr P is spot on with the issues.

If security is the issue you are trying to solve: LOR or Cable Guard enclosures are designed for outdoor mounting. Install 'hard to remove Ground Anchors (sunken below surface if in a lawn area) and chain/cable the controller stand/pole to it. Time is the enemy of a 'snatch and grab'. Make it time consuming. One of my controllers has long bolts (the heads are inside) sticking out the back with a U-bolt strap that goes around a steel sign post . I use 'jam nuts' over the main ones. You need 2 wrenches just to start the release. (once loose, you can align the flat and use a deep socket on the cordless).

If Water is the reason, plan some shelter (k6ccc has stuff in a brick post) or make the prop or bush supply shelter.  Flat on the ground is not a great plan. both enclosures are intended to be mounted wit openings DOWN and above ground (~18")

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I am building a new home and have been in LOR for more than 10 years.  So taking my lessons learned for my display I am making the following choices:

  1. Three outlets on the front porch, each on a separate 20 AMP breakers.
  2. I am building a brick survey marker on each side of the front yard with the following capabilities:
  • A.  Five separate 20AMP circuits.
  • B.  Two CAT6 drops - back to the LOR computer in the garage.
  • C.  Two security camera drops - back to the LOR computer in the garage.
  • D.  Two speaker drops - back to the LOR computer in the garage.

I use incandescent, LED, and Pixels in my display.  I do not need all of this power any longer but now is the time to install it.

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50 minutes ago, dlaird said:

I am building a new home and have been in LOR for more than 10 years.  So taking my lessons learned for my display I am making the following choices:

  1. Three outlets on the front porch, each on a separate 20 AMP breakers.
  2. I am building a brick survey marker on each side of the front yard with the following capabilities:
  • A.  Five separate 20AMP circuits.
  • B.  Two CAT6 drops - back to the LOR computer in the garage.
  • C.  Two security camera drops - back to the LOR computer in the garage.
  • D.  Two speaker drops - back to the LOR computer in the garage.

I use incandescent, LED, and Pixels in my display.  I do not need all of this power any longer but now is the time to install it.

Dlaird

Modern security cameras are POE (power over ethernet). I would home run CAT6 to the Network patch center (or location of a POE switch or POE NVR). My POE switch/NVR is also on a UPS with extra runtime :)

Make the Low Voltage pipe big, so you can add or change  You might want both RS485 AND ethernet out there. 2 LOR network cables might not be enough ;)

💡5 Circuits! Just put a (w/p) subpanel out there (the line voltage  conduit won't be any larger. Line and Low voltage may not share the same raceway)

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1 hour ago, TheDucks said:

Dlaird 

Modern security cameras are POE (power over ethernet). I would home run CAT6 to the Network patch center (or location of a POE switch or POE NVR). My POE switch/NVR is also on a UPS with extra runtime :)

Make the Low Voltage pipe big, so you can add or change  You might want both RS485 AND ethernet out there. 2 LOR network cables might not be enough ;)

💡5 Circuits! Just put a (w/p) subpanel out there (the line voltage  conduit won't be any larger. Line and Low voltage may not share the same raceway)

Well said. I have 32 POE cameras. I did not have my house built but had to run my own power and network cables to my two barns. I also had to run my POE cables through pre existing walls (3 stories) not fun especially through header boards etc.

There is no such thing as having to many runs of conduit. Remember you need to separate power from network cables where you can.

I ran 5- 3" pvc runs from my home panel to my barn #1. From barn #1 to barn # 2 I ran 2 - 3" runs. Trust me anything smaller than 3" and you will wish you went with 3". From my home panel to my barn 1 is 270' . One down turn through the wall means at least an S shape in the ground, then straight for about 260' and then an easy up turn from under shed straight up the wall.

Also no matter how you do it use a different color string in your runs. This will allow for easy identification later when you get ready to pull cables through. Never use only one string because you may need to pull additional cables later. Use a mouse to chase the string through the conduit. This is as simple as getting a couple nuts or something and place them in a plastic bag or saran wrap. Tie or tape as many strings as you want to pull through to the bag. Get a shop vac and on the other end connect the hose to and it will pull the mouse through the conduit. 

JR

 

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JR I  pull a new string in when I pull cable.

Also If you are running different networks (not just LOR) in the pipe, buy your CAT5/6 in colors. Same goes for jacks. Helps keep stupid from letting the magic smoke out 😦

 

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52 minutes ago, TheDucks said:

JR I  pull a new string in when I pull cable.

Also If you are running different networks (not just LOR) in the pipe, buy your CAT5/6 in colors. Same goes for jacks. Helps keep stupid from letting the magic smoke out 😦

 

I’m talking about open conduit. Meaning just empty not knowing what it will be used for.

I have seen many people ruin good wire, not only cat5/6 but single strand copper wire while pulling one wire and needing more. Then attempting to pull it back out to tape another wire or more and strip the shielding off either from getting caught in an LB, coupling or any other means. 

Those conduit runs get pretty tight even with wire lube and everything done correctly. It just depends on the job difficulty. But for installing new work in an old home it’s a little more difficult.

Always have more pull strings available. Personally after one mistake I have never pulled only one string. You just never know when you want to add another cable. Easier to tie on to an existing string than attempt to push another cable through or even use a mouse to pull a string through a conduit which has any amount of cable in it.

You have to somehow get the first cable in an empty pipe. Everyone talks about the magic smoke. I’ve never had it happen.

My reply is geared toward empty conduit when the end user doesn’t know what or when will be pulled through.

Now as I had to run all of my POE stuff through new work knowing what I was going to need and when, yes I marked every cable being pulled through or I could use a terminator and find the pairs, either way. I just like wire labels since I have tons of them.

That was for my barns. For my home and pixel and all other controller wiring I had to go through the walls and buy bit extensions to drill holes through the different levels. They are done one by one and connected to the controller and tested before moving on.

I don’t have anything DC other than 12v for pixel stuff so no worries about that magic smoke for me. I buy the cable locally so I get what I can in 500’ and whatever color they have at the moment. 

I don’t use jacks haven’t in a long time. Last jacks I used were for another home in my man cave. Had speakers, coax and cat5 all on one large jack panel (that what I will call it) but it has the speaker clips for different channels built in.

whoosh- that was long

JR

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