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Newbie Diving Head First In... but I have electrical questions


Christo25
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I've been reading the forum for about a month now and decided to finally pull the trigger on making my first LOR Display for the 2012 holiday. I have read all kinds of good information on the forum and decided I'm going to "start" with a 10' mega tree w/ 32 channels and two 10' arches for the upcoming season.

It may not sound like a lot, but this is my first attempt at making all of this work. Some basic electrical questions I have that I have yet to see answered while reading the various threads ---

1. Are all of you running your 64-128 channel shows on your basic electric that your house was wired with or are you running generators in conjunction with your set up? What about dedicated circuits for 1/2 controllers each?

2. The only reason I can see to use bulk SPT1/SPT2 wire is being able to make custom length cords... but I think this is only going to be problematic in the future as I move things around for upcoming seasons. Any reason people don't just use normal outdoor extension cords sold in stores? I'm not really looking forward to cutting 64 cords and having yet another potential problem with something like wiring.

I am completely excited to get started in this process. I am 15 seconds into my sequence song and two hours of work. I'm beginning to actually hate the song... hahaha

I look forward to learning much more and sharing with each of you.

-- Chris

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If you go with LEDs, you can skip the generator (not typical), or added sub-panel (somewhat typical). Incans require a lot more load planning.

There is a ton of discussion surrounding your basic questions in the forum..read the newbies section, and do some searches. The LOR documentation section, and the forum, give you days worth of reading. More reading raises more questions, and the forum is a great place to ask questions (other than "can someone do this for me, i'm too busy to read?..").

As far as using SPT versus extension cords, I think you'll find the convenience and cost savings makes rolling your own the way to go. A combination of both is what you'll probably end up with. Making SPT extension cords is nothing to be afraid of.

Lastly, you'll want to get comfortable working around wiring, and the basics of electricity. Don't let it scare you, but spend some time education yourself now, and you'll be a lot more comfortable with building your display.

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DonFL wrote:

If you go with LEDs, you can skip the generator (not typical), or added sub-panel (somewhat typical). Incans require a lot more load planning.

There is a ton of discussion surrounding your basic questions in the forum..read the newbies section, and do some searches. The LOR documentation section, and the forum, give you days worth of reading. More reading raises more questions, and the forum is a great place to ask questions (other than "can someone do this for me, i'm too busy to read?..").

As far as using SPT versus extension cords, I think you'll find the convenience and cost savings makes rolling your own the way to go. A combination of both is what you'll probably end up with. Making SPT extension cords is nothing to be afraid of.

Lastly, you'll want to get comfortable working around wiring, and the basics of electricity. Don't let it scare you, but spend some time education yourself now, and you'll be a lot more comfortable with building your display.


I'd say 14k of my lights are going to be M5 LED with another 1k of non-LED.

I was having problems blowing fuses with C9 bulbs and a bunch of inflatables this year until I started reading more about the power that each of the bulbs draws. Lessons learned.

I think I am going to add dedicated circuits and start there.

Any preference on SPT1 vs. SPT2?
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De Trommelslager

Here's a thread that should help you understand how to calculate electrical loads and take some of the mystery out of the process.

http://forums.lightorama.com/view_topic.php?id=31269

As for adding dedicated circuits; it's a good practice. My advice would be to calculate the load you intend on having, take into account some room for expansion and add what you need. There's no need in adding circuits just for the sake of "adding them". That expense could go for other things.

GFCI protect your display. It's foolish not to. You can have issues with tripping, but that is much easier to deal with than having someone hurt on your display.

Plan on putting controllers closer to the display elements; you'll use a lot less extension cords (lengthwise). CAT5 cable isn't expensive, and it isn't a huge ordeal to custom make the lengths you need.

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De Trommelslager wrote:

GFCI protect your display. It's foolish not to. You can have issues with tripping, ...

This is a good reason to have additional extra circuits. Especially for your elements on the ground. When the GFCI trips, all lights on that circuit are out. Spreading even low power draw controllers out on different GFCIs will allow some to continue to operate. Also gives you a better idea of where to focus your attention to find the leak.
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I am running 28 controllers. Each controller has 1 dedicated circuit to it. I am running 100% led. I know it is overkill but rather be safe than sorry.If a GFCI trips i only loose a small part of the display.Where do you live? If you are in my general area come by and I can Help out in any way possible, programing, setup or whatever. Welcome to the madness
Don C.

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amcdonald307

To voice an opinion from the other side of the fence...
I wouldn't have started in this hobby if I had needed to add subpanels and dedicated curcuits. But... it does take some planning if you put out alot of incan lights. My first year was about 18000 incan ran off 2 breakers - you just have to know how much you can turn on all at once.
My new element this year was a 120' spoked wheel on the lawn with 7200 incan over 12 channels. Doing the math I ended up splitting it over 2 breakers, and I knew how many many I could have on at one time (chases). And I could turn them all on at once if I didn't use full power (Yes, don't forget you can use intensity to conserve power draw!)
As for cords, I do make my own, but I also use plenty (maybe 50 or 60?) of the store bought 15 footers.

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Christo25 wrote:

I've been reading the forum for about a month now and decided to finally pull the trigger on making my first LOR Display for the 2012 holiday. I have read all kinds of good information on the forum and decided I'm going to "start" with a 10' mega tree w/ 32 channels and two 10' arches for the upcoming season.

It may not sound like a lot, but this is my first attempt at making all of this work. Some basic electrical questions I have that I have yet to see answered while reading the various threads ---

1. Are all of you running your 64-128 channel shows on your basic electric that your house was wired with or are you running generators in conjunction with your set up? What about dedicated circuits for 1/2 controllers each?

2. The only reason I can see to use bulk SPT1/SPT2 wire is being able to make custom length cords... but I think this is only going to be problematic in the future as I move things around for upcoming seasons. Any reason people don't just use normal outdoor extension cords sold in stores? I'm not really looking forward to cutting 64 cords and having yet another potential problem with something like wiring.

I am completely excited to get started in this process. I am 15 seconds into my sequence song and two hours of work. I'm beginning to actually hate the song... hahaha

I look forward to learning much more and sharing with each of you.

-- Chris
I had two openings on my power panel in the house and had an electrician dedicate them to two new outside outlets. Did that prior to discovering LOR but they have sure come in handy! IMO there are two reasons to go with SPT2, one you covered with custom lengths and the other being the price of extension cords - comes out cheaper in the end.

I am using four controllers with two controllers per circuit of mostly LED.
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Just want to put my 2 cents in. We have 25k incandescents and we do not have a subpanel. The 200 amp that we have running into the house is all we have and we had spaces free so we used some of those spaces for the new plugs. Not only that, but also keep in mind how many lights will be on at the same time. We have 4 dedicated circuits for all of the lights. Never have tripped a breaker with what we have. So I guess as others have said, just plan which boxes you want on what circuits or put in a circuit for each box, whichever you want to do and afford.

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Christo25 wrote:

I've been reading the forum for about a month now and decided to finally pull the trigger on making my first LOR Display for the 2012 holiday. I have read all kinds of good information on the forum and decided I'm going to "start" with a 10' mega tree w/ 32 channels and two 10' arches for the upcoming season.

It may not sound like a lot, but this is my first attempt at making all of this work. Some basic electrical questions I have that I have yet to see answered while reading the various threads ---

1. Are all of you running your 64-128 channel shows on your basic electric that your house was wired with or are you running generators in conjunction with your set up? What about dedicated circuits for 1/2 controllers each?

2. The only reason I can see to use bulk SPT1/SPT2 wire is being able to make custom length cords... but I think this is only going to be problematic in the future as I move things around for upcoming seasons. Any reason people don't just use normal outdoor extension cords sold in stores? I'm not really looking forward to cutting 64 cords and having yet another potential problem with something like wiring.

I am completely excited to get started in this process. I am 15 seconds into my sequence song and two hours of work. I'm beginning to actually hate the song... hahaha

I look forward to learning much more and sharing with each of you.

-- Chris


Hi Chris and welcome to the madness!

You need to plan your display in advance to answer your questions.

How much power will you be drawing, most outlets are 15 AMPs and you want to use 80% of that 12 AMPs. Look for a Killawatt or Killowatt meter (I use something else) to measure how much power you are drawing.

I run about 75% LEDs 20,00 or 30,000 or more lights on 13 controllers using 4 curcuits. One from my garage GFI another 3 from different outlets (different curcuit) to a portable GFIs. This year was the only time the GFIs tripped and I was able to find the problem and unplug bad curcuit in less than 1/2 hour. If I turn on all my lights I think I draw about 30 AMPS.

Zip cords will save you tons of money! I use both and have a ton of both. Buy the zip cords and vampire plugs in the next little while. It is fast to make them if you use the vampire plugs. Buy more than you think you need because you will use them!

If you get tired of a song start on another one! I spend about 8 hours for each minute I sequense...ummmm maybe thats why we are all mad!!!!
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Christo25 wrote:

I've been reading the forum for about a month now and decided to finally pull the trigger on making my first LOR Display for the 2012 holiday. I have read all kinds of good information on the forum and decided I'm going to "start" with a 10' mega tree w/ 32 channels and two 10' arches for the upcoming season.

It may not sound like a lot, but this is my first attempt at making all of this work. Some basic electrical questions I have that I have yet to see answered while reading the various threads ---

1. Are all of you running your 64-128 channel shows on your basic electric that your house was wired with or are you running generators in conjunction with your set up? What about dedicated circuits for 1/2 controllers each?

2. The only reason I can see to use bulk SPT1/SPT2 wire is being able to make custom length cords... but I think this is only going to be problematic in the future as I move things around for upcoming seasons. Any reason people don't just use normal outdoor extension cords sold in stores? I'm not really looking forward to cutting 64 cords and having yet another potential problem with something like wiring.

I am completely excited to get started in this process. I am 15 seconds into my sequence song and two hours of work. I'm beginning to actually hate the song... hahaha

I look forward to learning much more and sharing with each of you.

-- Chris


1) Depends on your lights, if your running spot lamps, Incans, Blow molds, and other assorted 120v high wattage bulb displays then you will want to move the load around. This year I ran only 32 channels all LED and ran all from one 15a service. Also as a side note all my lights may have been on in the same instance for maybe a few tenths of a second at a time. As for your light preference will decide on how you wire things up.



2) SPT is by far my favorite item this year. I came into this hobby with no knowledge of lamp cord, and on the day of the actual setup, keep in mind only 32 channels. I spent all day setting up, then 30 mins creating all the perfect length cords for the display. It all goes together very fast and don't let the small stuff overwhelm you.



3) The songs will get old very very fast. I wouldn't move on to another song, if your anything like me you will lose track of where you left off and then its like starting over. My best advice for sequencing is simply set it aside for a day or two. Let your mind clear out of all the little cells then out of the blue you will want to sit down and work some more. I don't know why but after a few days I just had to throw on a pot of coffee and hammer out a few more minutes of a song. Do not practice on a song you are not already familiar with. You will get lost in the beats and tempo. I liked the THX startup, its 47 seconds and lets you get an idea of how things work.



This hobby is all about the journey for me. I know the lights and the show make it fun, but getting there is 90% of the fun. How to setup the controllers, lights, props, wiring, and sequences. This to me is the fun part. I enjoy the shows greatly but I look at this as a hobby as anyone here should. You do it because you want to do and its something that you enjoy.
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I see you have a concern about making custom length cords out of SPT wire. Then maybe rearranging your display the next year. This was my 3rd year, and I started out making custom length wires. Yes, I have a few that are now in a tote that I did not use this year, but did in the past years.

I dont know how you plan to do things. But I am one of those guys who have their control box out in the yard next to the things that will be controlled. So, my cords are a bit longer than needed about 6' per item. This allows for some minor error in setting things up and yet having enough cord to reach all items per controller.

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I agree with everything you said except,

3) The songs will get old very very fast. I wouldn't move on to another song,

I move back and forth from song to song, and it breaks up the same old song. When you go back to it, you see what you need to change. Bad part is, you see what you need to change, and have "perfect" it over and over. You will never get a sequence to be perfect to yourself when you look at it next year. You are the only one that knows where the mistakes are! Have fun with it, and go with the flow.

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