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Planning Stages Already


PaulTM
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As I had mentioned in an earlier post, we are too late for this year but committed to doing a display next year. From everything I've already read here it is NEVER too early to start planning.

So, with future expansion already in mind, those of you with large displays of 64, 128 or more channels, how do you have your electric planned out?? I'm considering having another service drop added to a separate panel. Is this overkill??

How do you distribute power to your controllers?? Do you have electric run out to strategic locations or simply run extensions from each feature back to a central location housing ALL the controllers??

I'm leaning toward having lines run out to locations around the yard but am concerned that would lead to a security thing by having the controllers OUT in the yard as well. I wonder if a better idea is to have a "console" in the garage with all the power outlets in there for the controllers.

Speaking of outlets, for the LOR controllers, I get the 30amp max, 15A per bank and 8A max on a single channel. So, do you have each side connected to its own 15amp circuit?? Is that why I hear guys talking about cutting the outlets so that a separate circuit powers EACH outlet connection??

Whew, plenty of questions in there and I thank you for any and all advice in my infancy here :-)

Thanks,
Paul

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PaulTM wrote:

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, we are too late for this year but committed to doing a display next year. From everything I've already read here it is NEVER too early to start planning.

So, with future expansion already in mind, those of you with large displays of 64, 128 or more channels, how do you have your electric planned out?? I'm considering having another service drop added to a separate panel. Is this overkill??

How do you distribute power to your controllers?? Do you have electric run out to strategic locations or simply run extensions from each feature back to a central location housing ALL the controllers??

I'm leaning toward having lines run out to locations around the yard but am concerned that would lead to a security thing by having the controllers OUT in the yard as well. I wonder if a better idea is to have a "console" in the garage with all the power outlets in there for the controllers.

Speaking of outlets, for the LOR controllers, I get the 30amp max, 15A per bank and 8A max on a single channel. So, do you have each side connected to its own 15amp circuit?? Is that why I hear guys talking about cutting the outlets so that a separate circuit powers EACH outlet connection??

Whew, plenty of questions in there and I thank you for any and all advice in my infancy here :-)

Thanks,
Paul


First off you're right, you should be committed for even thinking about getting into this hobby.:)

How big is your Main now? I have a 200amp main so I just ran a 100 amp sub panel into my garage for LOR. I then ran outlets off of breakers in the sub. Each duplex was seperated and fed with a 20 amp breaker and 12AWG wire. Depending on the load that the controller is going to draw will determine weather I fed it with two inputs or one. I ran extension cords out to the controllers from the garage.

BTW I went with 20 amp breakers because the majority of my controllers are the 40 amp models.
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PaulTM wrote:

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, we are too late for this year but committed to doing a display next year. From everything I've already read here it is NEVER too early to start planning.

Truer words were never spoken.
PaulTM wrote:
So, with future expansion already in mind, those of you with large displays of 64, 128 or more channels, how do you have your electric planned out?? I'm considering having another service drop added to a separate panel. Is this overkill??

With 40 controllers in the city park we did get a dedicated service to the park, with a dedicated utility transformer. But, that is probably not an average case.

At home, I just have 8 20A circuits in the garage, and long 12 gauge extension cords that run to where the controllers are bolted to the side of the house. Also, do you intend to use a lot of LED, or a ton of incandescent? It will make a huge difference in your power load, and requirements. Do you already have a 200A (220V), 400A @ 110V service? Or do you only have a 100A service that is already heavily loaded?
PaulTM wrote:
How do you distribute power to your controllers?? Do you have electric run out to strategic locations or simply run extensions from each feature back to a central location housing ALL the controllers??
It really depends on your circumstances, risk aversion, site layout, and other factors. The city show has the controllers as close to what they power as possible, yet still be behind something. We bolt them to fence posts that are pretty tough to pull without a fence post puller. At the house, the majority of my controllers are on the side of the house, with cords running to the yard. There are some exceptions. I have a 13 channel star, that is about 18 feet up the front of the house. Rather than run that many cords up the front, I have a controller mounted under the eave, and a 32 conductor pigtail that runs 2 feet to a single connector to the star.. Much nicer having just a single power cord, and cat 5 cord running down the front of the house.. And I already have a couple of DC controllers behind the shrubs in the front flower beds, to keep their cable runs short. I also think that when I switch to LED lights on the shrubs, I will wind up adding more channels, and installing their controllers up there as well.
There are also those who keep all their controllers in the garage to protect them both from theft and elements as well. Very personal preference, but can cause thousands of feet of impact in how much extension cord you need for channels. PaulTM wrote:

I'm leaning toward having lines run out to locations around the yard but am concerned that would lead to a security thing by having the controllers OUT in theĀ  yard as well. I wonder if a better idea is to have a "console" in the garage with all the power outlets in there for the controllers.

I will say that having the places to install outlets seasonally in the park is nice, but it was expensive. And I was not as good at reading the tea leaves as I should have been. We still wind up running some extension cords from place to place, as we have shifted things around in the display, and need more power at some locations, and not as much at others... There is the hybrid approach of having all your outlets in one place, and running 12 gauge extension cords to locations within the display.
PaulTM wrote:

Speaking of outlets, for the LOR controllers, I get the 30amp max, 15A per bank and 8A max on a single channel. So, do you have each side connected to its own 15amp circuit?? Is that why I hear guys talking about cutting the outlets so that a separate circuit powers EACH outlet connection??

It really depends on the loads attached... I actually don't run any of the city controllers up to 30A.. The hottest ones I have, at full on, are about 10A per side, and I plug both sides into a single 20A GFCI. Anything that has been converted to LED, I am converting the controllers to single inlet, so I don't need as many triple taps to plug it all in. I think I have cases where I have 3 controllers plugged into one circuit, with an all on load of about 8A...

There are a couple of things going against the two 15A use points on one outlet. In theory, and practice, a single outlet must be one circuit, fed off one circuit breaker. To do this, the outlet is fed 220V, with neutral, which is one circuit fed off a double pole 15A breaker. This way, if either half is tripped, or turned off, the other half is off, and it is safe to work on.. But it must be done this way for safety, and code compliance. One down side is that you add some risk that you do not have using separate 110V circuits. On a normal circuit, any wire can be damaged, or come loose, and while you may create some safety issues, you won't fry a controller.. On the 220V circuit feeding two 110V loads, if your neutral wire has any issues, you may apply a substantial fraction of 220V to your loads. it is quite possible to kill controllers and lights this way.

Also, by most readings of the code, and most interpretations of how to keep yourself safe, you want GFCI protection on all the circuits. GFCI outlets still appear to be cheaper than GFCI circuit breakers. And you get a better idea of what is failing if they are separated by function, between the over current breaker, and the over leakage outlet. But, you can't break the tab, and use the two halves of a GFCI as two halves of a 220V circuit. So you loose the ability to save on outlet space.

PaulTM wrote:

Whew, plenty of questions in there and I thank you for any and all advice in my infancy here :-)

Thanks,
Paul
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I have 160 amps of service available in our yard and 30 amps in the neighbor's and run almost half LEDs, who's percentage increases each year. Which means I'll never come close to needing what's there...

I echo the sentiments to plan your electrical layout first. The amount of extension cords you'll need will depend almost entirely on how smart you are about that. IMHO putting all the controllers in the garage is a huge mistake unless thieves steal everything that's not nailed down in your town and state, wherever that is.

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I have a 100 Amp box for the whole house.

I run my controllers (15 amps each) on 2 ciruits and all plugged into GFIs then the controllers.

When testing earlier I had everything on ONE 15 AMP circuit. Ran my show and didn't trip the breaker.

I use a lot of LEDs and mini incandescences.

So it all depends on how much power you are pulling.

I knew how many watts each controller was going to use if all the lights were on and kept within the 80% or under and came up with 4 15 amp circuits.

Use a Kill o Watt (or whatever they are called) to check the power draw.

Now get back to sequencing!

Only 335 days before Christmas 2011 light up!

Oh and if you are going to pay an electrician for more outlets get more than you need (you will use them in the future)

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Thank you very much for ALL the responses.

I'm guessing that we will have a mix of incandescent and LEDs and will keep the load of the incans in mind. I temporarily had some LED C9s up for this year but ripped them down. They looked like a flashlight with a dying battery. HATED THEM!! So I went back to the standard incandescent C9 for the house eaves.

KZAAS, I currently have a 200A service, however, there is already a decent size sub-panel off that feeding a stand alone garage/office in the back of the property so I'm not sure if its a good idea to siphon off any more with another sub-panel :-)

KLB, I gotcha on the outlets, "I think" :-) So, leaving the standard 2 outlet thing out, it would be best to have EACH 15a side of the controller on it's OWN 15a breaker, correct ?? For example, if I was to run power out to the yard for a single controller, I would run 2 15A circuits out to the location PER controller?? And then connect each side of the controller to the separate circuit ??

Am I close ?? :-)

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PaulTM wrote:


KLB, I gotcha on the outlets, "I think" :-) So, leaving the standard 2 outlet thing out, it would be best to have EACH 15a side of the controller on it's OWN 15a breaker, correct ?? For example, if I was to run power out to the yard for a single controller, I would run 2 15A circuits out to the location PER controller?? And then connect each side of the controller to the separate circuit ??

I actually took one of the power cords off my two units and just ran one power cord for both sides...

but I am running 100% LED's

check out Page 9 of the manual:
http://www.lightorama.com/PDF/CTB16D_UserGuide.pdf




Attached files 228875=12580-Power.JPG
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With LED, make sure you get full wave. Not all LEDs are created equal with dimming etc. Also, with white, make sure you get the right kind of white for what you want. Cool white has a bluish cast, warm white is yellowish, like an incandescent.

Each side of a controller can get 15 amps with the high power heat sinks but also remember there is a per channel 8 amp max, and you usually want to be 10-15% under that.

When I used incandescent c7's for my house, I had to split them up. The house had two colors, but used 4 channels spread across controllers. This year it's LED, and I added a third color, but no issues with power on the controllers.

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PaulTM wrote:

KZAAS, I currently have a 200A service, however, there is already a decent size sub-panel off that feeding a stand alone garage/office in the back of the property so I'm not sure if its a good idea to siphon off any more with another sub-panel :-)
That all depends, what is that space being used for? I know you said garage/office, but is it being used during the showtime hours, can it share the load?
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KZAAS,

Actually, the space is NOT used during the winter aside from the occasional flip of the lights when I go in the garage :D Not sure if that location would be feasible for this as it is a LONG run from the panel in that building to the front where the lights would be. Property is 190 by 190 and the structure is in the back corner of the lot

David, I've run into that with the LEDs with the blueish color. Didn't care for that, but I also didn't care for the other color we saw in the C9 LEDs. Very dim in my opinion. Soooo, which LED is actually BRIGHT WHITE (clear) like the incandescent mini-lites out there my the millions ??? :?:?

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PaulTM wrote:

KZAAS,

Actually, the space is NOT used during the winter aside from the occasional flip of the lights when I go in the garage :D Not sure if that location would be feasible for this as it is a LONG run from the panel in that building to the front where the lights would be. Property is 190 by 190 and the structure is in the back corner of the lot

If you have the space for another double pole breaker in your main panel you could run another sub to a more convenient location for your LOR controllers. It wont overload the main if your not using the garage location much in the winter.
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I guess the part that is boggling me is the math doesn't seem to work. Let's just say that I did run a separate 110A sub-panel. Each controller requires 30A correct. That only gives room for 3 controllers on a 100A panel with 10A to spare. At that rate I'm not grasping how guys are running all these channels on such small power capacities. (????)

Here I am thinking about jumping in for the 128 channel which 8 controllers so 8 x 30A puts me over even a 200A new service. :shock::shock:

What am I missing here ??

Sorry for my "numbness" here :D

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PaulTM wrote:

I guess the part that is boggling me is the math doesn't seem to work. Let's just say that I did run a separate 110A sub-panel. Each controller requires 30A correct. That only gives room for 3 controllers on a 100A panel with 10A to spare. At that rate I'm not grasping how guys are running all these channels on such small power capacities. (????)

Here I am thinking about jumping in for the 128 channel which 8 controllers so 8 x 30A puts me over even a 200A new service. :shock::shock:

What am I missing here ??

Sorry for my "numbness" here :D

I may be waaay off base here...but I don't think that it uses 30 AMPs as much as it is RATED at 30 amps....

see page 19 of Manual


Attached files 228913=12581-manual pg 19.JPG
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Hi Jim,

Yes, I would agree it is rated for 30A, they also say that if you plug both banks into the same circuit you would have 20A or typically 15A for the controller. So, even with using the 20A, my example of a 100A panel would provide for 5 controllers which is still well below the 8 used for the 128 channel setup :?:?

Man, this gets more confusing in my head the more I talk about it LOL :cool:

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PaulTM wrote:



What am I missing here ??



QUALITY LED lights.

30 controllers 90% LED, with a few incadescents thrown in. Less then 30 amps total power draw and no expensive heavy duty extension cords, no need to pay for subpanels and electricians.
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JBullard wrote:

PaulTM wrote:


What am I missing here ??



QUALITY LED lights.

30 controllers 90% LED, with a few incadescents thrown in. Less then 30 amps total power draw and no expensive heavy duty extension cords, no need to pay for subpanels and electricians.
JBullard has a very valid point. Since you are just starting out, start building your stock with LED's and you won't need to worry about all that extra power. LED's are expensive but will cut your power bill 90% over incandesants plus yous can plug more strings together to make a long run when needed. On Incandesants the best you can do is eight strings together. Also LED's don't fade like the incandesants, a blue incandesant only lasts 2-3 years if your lucky then it becomes clear.
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I don't think anyone runs their controller under a full load.

I have 7 controllers and even though I do use 4 circuits I did test using just one 15 amp circuits!

Go LED and you shouldn't have to worry about it.

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Great info here, thank you to everyone for your replies.

I hear you on the LED subject, I like how many can be strung together and the low power requirements, HOWEVER, unless they invent a CLEAR LED string that will actually show as BRIGHT CLEAR then my wife is NOT interested :D:P The current LEDs out there that we have tried are disappointing and she is not a fan of the colored bulbs.

She foresees the color palette for our display as red and white(clear) lights. I've actually seen some houses in our area with this and this looks VERY nice but they are ALL using the incandescents for their brightness.

One new question would be about the sales I've heard about here. Is notice posted before hand on the forum?? I'd like to get the software as soon as possible but don't want to miss any specials by buying the whole package too soon :):)

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