Jump to content

Help - One set of LEDs barely light other lights connected to same channel work fine


Recommended Posts

I couldn't quite figure out where to put this question and haven't seen a similar issue elsewhere, so looking for any advice.

I have a GEN3 AC controller with one channel that I add a triple tap to. One line goes to a set of two connected 150 LED net lights (300 total) on an extension cord that I made and is only about 5 feet from the controller. The second line is a 50ft heavy extension cord that goes to a tree around the corner and has 300 LEDs.

After about a week of working fine, now, the two net lights barely light. The tree works fine. Yesterday I took the nets lights off the bushes and plugged them each directly into an outlet and they lit up fine. Put everything back, and they still barely light. The last test I did was unplugging the tree and the nets still didn't fully light up.

I'm thinking if it was a software issue (like a dimming curve), both would barely light. If it was the something with the controller, both would operate the same way. If it was the nets (bad fuse, or capacitor or whatever it is they use to limit voltage) they wouldn't work when plugged in directly. 

Any thoughts, ideas?

Edited by tlogan
Link to post
Share on other sites

Your direct into the outlet test is valid. Now do an in place extension cord  validation. Take a STANDARD 25-40W INCAN light bulb  (test socket or table lamp), and see if the cord  works UP TO where you plug in the LED strings with problems.

Have you set a Dimming curve using HU  or max intensity (that one bit me with 2 strings of mini strobes) on any channel 

BTW I was assuming that your Gen 3 is a Factory build (with factory heatsinks).

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a couple of strands pull this on me, I had to flip their power plug 180 degrees in the LOR Channel that was controlling them.  Once I flipped the plug over 180 degrees, they worked fine.   

I've found some LED strands may work 1 or 2 seasons, then act up, sometimes they do it a lot sooner than expected.  Don't know why it happens, but it does. 

So you might want to also try the plug flip and see if that stops it, if it does, MARK the plugs on those strands. This is so you know to always insert them in the same manner every time you use them!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for quick replies! Weird thing is they worked fine for about a week.

@TheDucks - yes factory built controllers. No dimming curves or max intensity. Even if I did, BOTH nets and tree would react the same way, no?

@Orville - will try flipping the plug. And I guess another extension if that doesn't work.

 

@MichRX7 And these are BRAND NEW single color nets that I FINALLY found in my local Walmart, but were all gone the last time I was in there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a possibility, but it worked fine the first week and all of last year. I'll try swapping the extension cord tonight. At some point. After I get home from bowling. IF it's not too cold. OR snowing. Or raining. Got our first snow of the year this morning but it's turning to rain.

Link to post
Share on other sites

As you just mentioned, rain and cold raise havoc with connections.  When water freezes it expands pushing things apart.  What was once connected is now open.  I'm so used to that here in Wisconsin.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We've had a good bit of rain and some cold, but not a freeze after the rain. Yet. We don't normally get the real freezing temps unit mid-January. About 8 or 9 years ago, we went golfing on January 2nd and it was 60 degrees. The course was sloppy as all get-out, but... golfing....in January! 

Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, tlogan said:

That's a possibility, but it worked fine the first week and all of last year. I'll try swapping the extension cord tonight. At some point. After I get home from bowling. IF it's not too cold. OR snowing. Or raining. Got our first snow of the year this morning but it's turning to rain.

Yes, they can work fine, but then all of a sudden they don't work as you described.  Mine I just flipped the power cords where they were connected and got the full bright LED's back, if I put it back by re-reversing it to what it was, LED's were dimly lit.  Don't know why this occurs and could never find any real reason for it, but it's what corrected my issue, which is exactly what you described in how your LED strands were working.

Edited by Orville
Link to post
Share on other sites

I plan to try that, but as I think about it, I think the vampire plugs are polarized so I may not be able to switch it. If it is, I'll check the plug on the net lights. Not sure if that one is polarized. And, as I said, I try a different extension.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, tlogan said:

I plan to try that, but as I think about it, I think the vampire plugs are polarized so I may not be able to switch it. If it is, I'll check the plug on the net lights. Not sure if that one is polarized. And, as I said, I try a different extension.

For the vampire plug you can check and see if the marked wire is on the right side, maybe that one was put together backwards, if not just swap the wire, same as changing the plug position.

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, tlogan said:

I plan to try that, but as I think about it, I think the vampire plugs are polarized so I may not be able to switch it. If it is, I'll check the plug on the net lights. Not sure if that one is polarized. And, as I said, I try a different extension.

I have yet to see any Christmas light strand plug be polarized.  However most of my blow molds are polarized, but they use a standard 25 watt lamp bulb.  All my regular and LED Christmas strands are the same size for both prongs on the plug.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Orville said:

I have yet to see any Christmas light strand plug be polarized.  However most of my blow molds are polarized, but they use a standard 25 watt lamp bulb.  All my regular and LED Christmas strands are the same size for both prongs on the plug.

Yep. I was just covering the possibilities. The other exception, are strings with built in effects (and those should never be dimmed nor pulsed)

Link to post
Share on other sites

OK here's what I found.

I got home Monday night  (sorry was out all day yesterday in an off-site meeting) and it looked like the first half of the first net was brighter and the second half of the second net was brighter, but everything in the middle was pretty much dead. I also noticed that the second half of the first string on the tree (that is tapped to the same channel) was out but the rest of it was fine and fully bright. It was still very drizzly, so I though maybe it just needs to dry out, so I left everything.

It pretty much stopped raining yesterday while I was out,  and when I got I home last night, the nets seemed all pretty dead again. So I grabbed another extension cord, plugged it in and the nets LIT UP FULLY. I took the old extension cord, removed the vampire plugs, clipped off the ends of the wire and re-attached the plugs making sure the wiring was straight. Tried that extension cord again and the same dim/dead net lights.  Also I tried it the same plug of the triple tap that the new cord worked in,  just in case it's actually the triple tap,  but no go The wire looks fine so maybe one or both of vampire plugs is bad. OR there's a break inside the SPT that I can't see. For kicks, next chance I get I'll put new vampires on that wire and see what happens.

And that second half of the first string on the tree must have a different issue. I replaced both fuses but still no go. Which leads me to another question...what causes half of an LED string to go out? Again , the wiring looked fine and all the lights look OK (none bitten clean off by critters or missing or anything) and I pushed them all in to make sure they were all making contact, but they all seemed pretty tight already. 

Thanks for all the tips! At least my show seems to be running fine. (I hope that doesn't jinx it!).

Link to post
Share on other sites

MATH makes them that way.:specifically: Division :D

LEDs use certain voltages PER BULB., so like their older mini-light cousins, they series them in bunches  (35, 70,140)  to avoid additional parts (in the bulges).

If your string or net has more than 35 lights: look at the count of wires between bulbs. 3 (Hot, Common and the chained drop to next bulb) Transition to the NEXT group will only have 2 wired (Hot, Common) The chain gang start over after here.  One or more nodes are dead/loose in the OUT section. If these were used previous seasons, there is a high probability the LEDs have rusted (off) leads)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks @TheDucks - so they DO have the same issue as incans. Sounds like a plausible explanation. I'm quite familiar with this problem with incans. My wife bought a very nice wood carved Christmas piece (from Germany) that uses a string of 10 mini lights. Once the first one burned out, the rest went REALLY fast and I couldn't figure why when the long strings don't do that. Then, yes THE MATH! So, trying to find a plug-in string of 10 was a LOOONG search. Strings of 10 battery powered are EVERYWHERE. So I think I bought 10 of them. You know, just in case.

Weird thing is this a brand new strand from Walmart (Holiday Time). When I replaced the fuses, the LEDs didn't LOOK burned out. Do they not look like incans when they burn out?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for filling us in on the bad extension.  Kind of had a feeling that was it from my own experience.  I have also seen bad wire.  Had a cable one time where they spliced the copper of one conductor by twisting the two ends together and then applying the PVC coating over the top!  Only a slight disfiguring of the insulation gave that one away.  If you own a light keeper pro you can go down the cord and if the beeping stops before getting to the socket end there is your break!  You will have to reverse the plug and do it twice to check each conductor as the hot lead is the only one detected.

LED's will show no sign of burning out.  They typically fail because of a connection - either to the wire or to the die that actually creates the light.  Socketed ones are even more troublesome as the corrosion between pin and socket becomes an open circuit.  Those are super small gold leads that are attached to pads on the die and to the wire pins that are molded around the die. 

Edited by radioguy1007
Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, tlogan said:

Thanks @TheDucks - so they DO have the same issue as incans. Sounds like a plausible explanation. I'm quite familiar with this problem with incans. My wife bought a very nice wood carved Christmas piece (from Germany) that uses a string of 10 mini lights. Once the first one burned out, the rest went REALLY fast and I couldn't figure why when the long strings don't do that. Then, yes THE MATH! So, trying to find a plug-in string of 10 was a LOOONG search. Strings of 10 battery powered are EVERYWHERE. So I think I bought 10 of them. You know, just in case.

Weird thing is this a brand new strand from Walmart (Holiday Time). When I replaced the fuses, the LEDs didn't LOOK burned out. Do they not look like incans when they burn out?

When a LED burns out , it is usually completely off, however, sometimes you can   The ones that I have see when one is starting to go bad, it will be very dimly lit, and within 1-2 days or less, it'll be completely out.  The ones I have found to usually burn out first and the fastest are the blue LEDs in a multi-color strand.  Don't know why, but I've replaced MORE BLUE LEDs than ANY other color.  Green LEDs seem to run in 2nd place for replacement.

But also pull the LED and check the leads, they could be rusted or corroded, also use a bright flashlight and check the socket itself, the contacts on many of them can ruse out and break off from the wire.  Just looking or pushing on the LED won't tell you this, as it may make a contact with the wire that the contact has rusted off from, but a little wind or movement, that same LED would be out again.

When I replaced LED's in strands, I also added some Automotive Dielectric Grease used for vehicle light sockets, this helps prevent corrosion and rusting of the contacts on the LED leads as well as the contacts.inside the socket.

It was a lot of work, but I started adding this dielecteric grease to any new LED strands I bought,  And I also started adding it to older strands that didn't get this treatment because I was unaware of using this for the LED light strands, so after the Holidays were done, those I knew were treated were taken down and put away, those I knew needed treatment were put aside, treated and tested, then put away.

Never had any more issues with rusted sockets or LED leads after doing this, and I used some of these strands for over 15+ years, and since I don't use them due to going into RGB, gave them away for use at my church, they've been using them for about 3 years now and still no issues with them.

Some folks don't want to spend the time it takes to do this, but I for one, will say, it was time well spent as I used these same store bought strands for many years, and they are still going strong at my church!

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to all for the tips!  Guess I'll check out that light keeper pro. I have one of those light fixers for incans, so I should upgrade that as well.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

The  two light fixers are different, but if the old one for Incans still works...save your money for more lights.

I agree with Orville: Dielectric grease. I bought a jar from Amazon.  I dipped the ends of my SPT far enough to cover the place Vampire prongs would enter (a 'acid' brush works, just messy to store if your work area is not permanent). It is a PITA to remove-grease-insert every bulb . BUT. it is a bigger PITA when it dies in the place of use ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, TheDucks said:

The  two light fixers are different, but if the old one for Incans still works...save your money for more lights.

I agree with Orville: Dielectric grease. I bought a jar from Amazon.  I dipped the ends of my SPT far enough to cover the place Vampire prongs would enter (a 'acid' brush works, just messy to store if your work area is not permanent). It is a PITA to remove-grease-insert every bulb . BUT. it is a bigger PITA when it dies in the place of use ;)

Especially when they are out of reach and require a ladder to get at, just to replace a burned out LED before that one makes the whole strand go dark! 

When the entire strand goes out, it's almost, but not quite impossible to locate the bad LED and replace it, since you have to move the ladder along the strand line until you locate it!

Dielectric grease, although a pain to do every bulb {LED} will save you a ton of grief in the long run, especially on replaceable LED strands that can, and most will at some point, have the LED leads rust off or the contacts in the socket rust away off the wire.  When that happens you can fix it, just find another socket that's good from an old non-working LED strand and cut out the rusted socket and splice in the new one.  Just don't forget to add the dielectric grease first!

Edited by Orville
Link to post
Share on other sites

Note of interest, I have had bad vampire plugs this year ,  one roof snowflake with led rope,  would only light very dim  changed both plugs and back in biz,, one tree with red c6,s a vampire plug with lose slide on cover  was making the wire not connect the pins. Plus I have also noted that blue leds go first,  have three strings of 50 led c9 and most of the blues only lasted one year, anyone have an answer to that .  Also the rain just wont let up here in Fort Lauderdale,  GFI's clicking off had to shut it down last night , kinda cleared up today so maybe tonight will work.    

David

Link to post
Share on other sites

FINAL ANSWER....

I found some time yesterday to try different vampire plugs. Once I got everything on the workbench and started removing the old plugs, I noticed THIS:

y4mQ_2BP4c-VGcZEwk7bIF-_CLThZHUoXs-H_s6_

It had been raining and then got cold enough to freeze, so my guess is that it was held together by the ice just enough to make SOME contact and solid enough that I didn't notice it. It was sitting in the garage for a couple of days so the wire probably thawed out. Once I started working with it, it was pretty obvious. CRITTER at it again! So far, I haven't found any lights chewed off.

Edited by tlogan
Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad you found it, we don't have much ice/snow issues here in Florida but the critters do chew on things, our German Shepard seems to be keeping the squirrels in check, no issues this year so I'll need to reward her with an extra treat.

 

Keith

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...