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Newbies beware! Something to think about


scubado
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This is my fourth year with animated lighting, third year year with LOR. I run my show on very limited funds and try to get the best bang for my buck. All of my stranded lights have been purchased at local big box stores. As I've been setting up my diplay this year, I've noticed that I'm not exactly happy with some my lights. My green g8 leds from Menards I think is my biggest disapointment. Segments burning 1/2 brite, non burned out, although I've had to replace a few at times. I've seen quite a bit of rusting on strands from Sam's Club on my older strands, about 3yrs old. This year, I've been leaning towards Shopko's Berry bulbs because they are sealed bulbs and like the bulb spacing too. But I've had to exchange three sets so far this year due to issues. I'm hoping the ones I have working will give better years of service. Incads fade and chip with age. This is my first year with RGB ribbon and already see issues with that as well. Buying cheap lights now, will get you up and running, but in a couple years you'll be having to replace your early cheap lights while also trying to expand your show.

I don't know what I'm going to do about next year. Currently planning to build a 300 gallon saltwater aquarium which will leave me no extra money to expand my show and maybe even downgrade it, Depends if I decide to keep the ball tree or not, which is currently not working due a inadequate power supply and delaying the start of my show. I no longer advocate using computer power supplies for DMX elements, they just don't maintain good enough power. The ball tree requires a lot of storage space and heat is an issue during the summer. I might repurpose the ribbon to other things I'd like to try. Another thing that's going to restrict my buying power is my health insurance is going up again thanks to our re-elected Liar in Chief.

So keep this post in mind as light sales will soon be upon us and are very tempting to take advantage of. The online vendors that are favored by the oldtimers on this forum will be having their presales soon too. Yes, you'll pay more up front, but if they last longer than the big box stores, well, you do the math.

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This is a topic that comes up regularly. Each one of us needs to assess their needs and budget constraints in making our decisions. In my case, after 40 years of fighting with incandescent bulbs, I'm delighted to be switching over to LEDs. I'm doing it a bit each year, whenever I can afford it.

In my case, I like seeing the electric bill hardly change at all for the month the show runs. But I've done the math and I know it's quite unlikely that I'll live long enough to recoup the cost of LEDs versus the savings in electric. But that's only the electric end of the equation. When you factor in not having to replace all those sets of malfunctioning and faded bulbs each year, the payback time starts looking a bit more realistic. I can count on less than one finger how many LED light sets have failed so far this season. Compare that to the dozen or so sets of incans I've had to repair/replace already this year and the time saving is staggering. Last season I lost exactly one set of LEDs to causes other than critter-chewed wires. (And I really don't count those because the critters don't give a rip if they're chewing incans or LEDs)

And then, there's the satisfaction of having lights for who-knows-how-many-years before they even BEGIN to fade. I've got blue LEDs that are on their sixth or seventh year of service, many of them out in the elements and the sunshine for four months each year and they're visually indistinguishable from brand new stringers. You show me anyone who says that about incans and I'll show you a liar. IMO that's where the benefit of LEDs so far surpasses any cost considerations for incans that it makes any comparative discussion pointless. At least for me.

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George hits it home. I have enough incans to last a few years and hate to let go of that many lights but the headaches of incans is a real pain. I have some commercial sealed LED's and the only problem I have noticed so far is the wires pulling out of a few sockets due to stretching.

Don't get me wrong. I love their look and fading characteristics but you have to pick your battles.

And yes. Big box store LED's are hit and miss. I would say they are far more misses than hits.

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George, are your leds from big box or from the online vendors or a mix? The more recent leds that I have purchased from big box are brighter than my older ones, but don't know how their longevity will be.

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scubado,

I once hear a wise saying. The candle that burns the brightest, burn out soonest. This saying seems to hold true to many things. Anything that is stressed more have a tendency to break more often.

My first year I didnt know better and I bought from a guy that was ran out of the business and have had a few strings I bought from him fail. The 2nd, 3rd and now the 4th year I have bought from CDI and quite happy with the quality of the LEDs. Considering that they came from China, I have had a few failures but it was with a few C9 LEDs. But the icicles, all 4 colors are running good. And so far the new c6 strings are looking good. I have 100 count strings on my Mega Tree folded in have and I have them ty wrapped to a small air craft cable for support.

So, I go with a commercial vendor. No big box lights for me. Thanks but no thanks.

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A lot of things are just buggin the crap out of me lately, especially the economy and healthcare. Having less and less money for hobbies is eating at me because I enjoy being busy and having limited funds is just maddening. I was able to earn some extra money this year and afford to build the ball tree and now it just sits waiting for new power supply and wind doing some damage today has me really worked up. And I still can't come to a decision on whether to go cool or warm white going forward. I have both in my display and want to make it more uniform.

I won't go dark though, but a possible downgrade before upgrading again is hard to swallow.

Edited by scubado
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And I still can't come to a decision on whether to go cool or warm white going forward. I have both in my display and want to make it more uniform.

Personally, I like the cool white. My show is small, mainly because of yard space, but I bought a case of warm whites LEDs to replace my Incans. I put them on a mini tree, lit them up in the dark garage and immediately did NOT like the color. It's too yellow for me. I emailed Holiday Lights Express and ask them if I could swap out part of the box for Cool whites. They did and I'm much happier. I used 8 sets of the warms anyway, now I wish I had not. They will be replaced next year. I suppose it's personal preference, but I prefer the Cool White.

Ron

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Jim,

Your display should be an escape from all the econo and healthcare stuff.... an escape from the holiday shopping hassle.

"""If your not having fun, your doing it wrong"""

As your signature says, "Life's Short, Make a Light Impression".

So make the bad stuff "lite" and your display "Light".

Some days I worked up on so many things at once, it's hard to figure out what is what. End in the end, I'm blessed with what I have and everything will sort itself out the way "I" want to sort it out.

IMHO, go with the "cool" white. ;)

Edited by Santas Helper
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Here's my dilema with the whites. I have one bush with M6 cools, I like. I have one bush 5mm cools, don't care for the bulb style and sort of surprised they are still working, Sam's club 3-4 yrs old. 7 mini trees RGW incads. I have WW incads and CW led icicle lights. Marty fan is WW led. Two 7' trees with WW incads. Most of my music is on the tradition side which kinda leans to the WW feel. I do have a TSO song, Sandstorm and a couple others that favor the CW. I have recently purchased a couple strands for a couple small bushes not part of the main display that are C3 CW that are really nice and brite. Transitioning the minis to warm white leds would be easier then changing to cools. I buy my lights a little at a time and do my best with after Christmas sales to get as much bulk as I can. The timing of the pre-sales usually doesn't work in my favor.

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The way I see it, you buy on impulse.

You need to decide what color of white (if not both) and stick with it.

I mean look at your last post. It's all over the place.

You have alot of both but not happy (or can't decide) with either.

Pick a color and stick with it. Or accept both and be happy.

You are making this hard on yourself.

Go with what your gut says.

Music should not depict what color you choose. Nor should sales...

What do YOU like???....Go with it.

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The way I see it, you buy on impulse.

You need to decide what color of white (if not both) and stick with it.

I mean look at your last post. It's all over the place.

You have alot of both but not happy (or can't decide) with either.

Pick a color and stick with it. Or accept both and be happy.

You are making this hard on yourself.

Go with what your gut says.

Music should not depict what color you choose. Nor should sales...

What do YOU like???....Go with it.

This is why I started this thread, so that others don't make the same mistakes I did. When I started out, there wasn't much talk about this. Back then price was more important than style or color or quality to me and if you want a great looking display, price has to take the back seat. Nothing wrong with shopping around for price, but keeping the display uniform is key.

Another thing I suggest for newbies on tight budgets, work with a single color first. This gives you the maximum elements to work with and makes things a little easier to deal with and learn.

Now where's that money tree someone is supposed to invent?!

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