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Newbie - Wiring and Extension Cords


AR HillBilly
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I just received my first Controller (16 Channel) and I have already had 4 plugs dropped with a 20 Amp breaker for all plugs. I was wondering if it is best to run 2 heavy extension cords for the power and plug the lights in direct or it is best to have the controller plugged in direct and run each channel on it own extension cord. Any recommendation on the size of the extension cords I will need? Any tips or tricks will be greatly appreciated, I think I have gotten a little over my head and I'm late to the game. Thanks

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When you say you've had 4 plugs dropped, do you mean they tripped the 20amp breaker or not working at all? As for powering the lights and controller really depends on your setup and amp draw. Are you running incans or led? My setup has each channel its own power outlet or extension cord. Size of the cord depends on distance and amp draw. Hope this helps and doesn't confuse you anymore

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I just received my first Controller (16 Channel) and I have already had 4 plugs dropped with a 20 Amp breaker for all plugs. I was wondering if it is best to run 2 heavy extension cords for the power and plug the lights in direct or it is best to have the controller plugged in direct and run each channel on it own extension cord. Any recommendation on the size of the extension cords I will need? Any tips or tricks will be greatly appreciated, I think I have gotten a little over my head and I'm late to the game. Thanks

Do yourself a favor go LED, no issues for overload for breakers or extension cords.

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Welcome! Fellow newbie here. Yes, you're waaaay late but good for you for having a go at it.

I'm a bit confused by what you're saying, can you clarify? What do you mean you had 4 plugs drop? How many lights do you have? What kind are they?

Each channel has to be on it's own extension cord, that's how they work. So whatever you want blinking on that one channel can only be plugged into that one channel. The design of your layout will dictate the length and number of cords you need. My controller is 100' from my front door. I've got the two power cords from the controller plugged into one heavy duty extension cord which runs to my door. From there, each of my 16 channels has a cord of its' own, using SPT1 wire. I have about 300' of cord used for that controller, but again that's unique to my own layout.

I second the idea of getting a Kill O Watt. You need to know exactly how much power your drawing. Only you can decide incan vs. LED, it's personal taste. LEDs are cool, but I like the traditional look of incans, and LEDs are really expensive.

Best of luck!

Edited by Klayfish
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new here but 4 plugs dropped in cable pullers terms is he had 4 circuits ran. each with a 20amp. sounds like setting up for two controllers per the instructional requirement of two separate 15amp minimum circuits per controller... but im not the OP and could be assuming wrong

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Here is the way I monitor my current draw. I created a loop on the hot side of the outlet. This way I can see in realtime without unplugging any controllers.

So, you you a clamp meter? If so, how accurate is that?

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A clamp-on amp meter is the industry standard for taking measurements for this scenerio. I also have access to a test equipment calibration lab, and they "certified" it. I feel that its just as if not more accurate than the kil-o-watt.

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I guess I'm struggling with the need to be that accurate, assuming you have planned your channel assignments with an eye to current draw, and are not living on the edge at either the channel level, or the outlet/breaker level.

My opinion only, if you're nervous and worried about current draw, you haven't done enough up front planning.

Would be interested in what kind of difference (error..) you see between the KillAWatt and the clamp on.

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Guest Don Gillespie

A what meter? I plug my stuff in, if the breaker blows I unplug something and try it again, after 4651 tries I think I have this down pat. :P

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A what meter? I plug my stuff in, if the breaker blows I unplug something and try it again, after 4651 tries I think I have this down pat. :P

That's like what, once for every 10 bulbs? Good average.

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Hi Guys, sorry for the delay never could find this post or see any messages.

Regarding the "4 plugs dropped" I'm referring tho having 4 plugs installed with each plug on it own 20 amp breaker. I have currently made 10 mini trees with 4000 incans total each will be on its own channel. I'm know facing the problem of investing in 10 - 100' extension cords or investing in 2 heavy duty cords and moving the LOR closer to my setup. However, I don't like the idea that somebody could steal the controller.

I see wear people are using STP-1 or STP-2 wire and Vampire connectors, is this safe if you get alot of rain? From what I can tell it would be alot cheaper to make my own cords, but I see that it is listed a Lamp Cord for indoor uses.

Thanks again for the responses, just trying to make some lights blink and dance for my kids.

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I currently run about 4000 ft of spt2 with vampire plugs. I have 160 channels and try to keep the plugs off the ground and have no issues. I user the spt2 just for the extra3 amp rating compared to the spt1. Some of my stuff is pushing the limits as well lol.

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I currently run about 4000 ft of spt2 with vampire plugs. I have 160 channels and try to keep the plugs off the ground and have no issues. I user the spt2 just for the extra3 amp rating compared to the spt1. Some of my stuff is pushing the limits as well lol.

Can you tell me where you got the "extra" 3 amp rating from? Spt1 wire is the same as SPT2 wire, the only difference is the thickness of the insulation. Not saying you're wroung,but, I have never seen anywhere that that amps are different.

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Are you thinking of more current with insulation thickness (there isnt any differance) or a 16/18ga differance?

16ga SPT is 13a rating, 18ga SPT is 10a..

http://www.christmas...t-spt-wire.html

Here's additional info:

http://www.christmas...and-spt-2-cord/

http://www.christmas...DS_ep_81-1.html

http://www.awcwire.c...=SPT2-Lamp-Cord

Raw Search: https://www.google.com/search?q=spt+1+spt2+wire+current+rating&oq=spt+1+spt2+wire+current+rating&aqs=chrome.0.57j62.7894&sugexp=chrome,mod=13&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Edited by TJ Hvasta
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As a general rule, 300 mini incandescent lights pull 1 amp. Do the math and see what it comes out.

I run a heavier cord (12 or 14 gage) to the controller and SPT2 from the controller to the lights. As said above, keep them off the ground.

The PC controllers have a loop on the side where you can put a padlock and chain it to something secure. Would slow thieves down.

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