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A True Noobie Question.


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First of all, I've been visiting this site for about 18 months and am blown away by the skills, grace, and helpfulness of it's members. What a FANTASTIC site and group of people! Anyway, after inadvertently having my outside display grow over the years from replacing security lights with red and green bulbs to now having neighbors stop and thank me during setup and tear-down, I'm finally getting serious next year. Including plans for more LOR than any reasonable person would/should attempt during their first year. ;)

So am I right that the max output per channel is 8 amps, with one plug for every 8 channels. Meaning that if I buy the LOR 1602W that I should ask my electrician to run 30 amp circuits for it and I'll have an AVERAGE of 3.75 amps available per channel?

Sorry if this is a dumb question or has been discussed before. Search didn't seem to help.

Also, just so I understand, I had two new 20 amp circuits run for this year. Each circuit has a box with two plug-ins, one above the other, each with a GFI breaker. Does that means each plug-in is 20 amps? Or would the whole thing be 20 amps, 10 amps for each plug-in? TIA.

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If you have 20A to a single GFCI then the total output of the GFCI is 20A. Now that should be 10A and 5A as most GFCI outlets are only rated to 15A.

I plan to go with dedicated 20A GFCI breakers for my display next year. This year I ran on 4 regular 15A breakers.



Chris

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Hi Dave,

You've already read my FAQ, I'm sure. However, your question wasn't covered there. So, let me help out here.

PLEASE NOTE: TO ALL - I AM NOT AN ELECTRICIAN. YOU SHOULD CONSULT WITH A LICENSED ELECTRICIAN IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS.

There, now that's out of the way ...

The LOR1602W is rated at a maximum of 30 amps. However, on the controller, there are two 'sides' of the unit, each is rated at 15amps. Channels 1-8 and channels 9-16 each run on their own circuit. So, if you were to use the controller to it's maximum potential, you could run about 1.875 amps per channel.

Now, when you go to plug everything in, you will need to know your maximum power draw. Let's just say that you have it loaded up with lights, and plan to turn everything on at once. At this point, one 15amp circuit isn't going to do it. You will need at least 2.

You also asked about plugs. There are two main styles that most people are going to have in their homes. They are the 5-15R and 5-20R. (What's that? http://www.nooutage.com/nema_configurations.htm) Chris is correct that this is the overall rating of the plug. Don't go over that. If you are going to use LOR to it's maximum potential, you probably want to go with one plug per circuit.

In my display, I have five 16 channel controllers. Each one draws no more than 10 amps per side, and I can safely plug them into a single 20amp circuit. (In fact, they all draw less than 10. One of them might approach 7amps on one side.) I had an electrician come out and install 20amps plugs for me, which allows me that extra little bit of power I need. Of course, one of the advantages of LOR is that you can do so much more! Steve Singleton Jr. has one 16 channel controller, yet his entire display pulls over 60amps. As you might imagine, he never has his entire display on at once. It's just something else to consider when planning your display.

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Just to reinforce Don's point ... with LOR you have much better control over how much power your display is using. None of my controllers approached anywhere near their electrical capacity. So you may want to do some math to forecast just how much power you will be using. Several of us use spreadsheets to keep track of such things.

Also, with LOR you can use the Hardware Utility and set a maximum power level ... like 80% as being the most used (versus 100%). That's an easy way to throttle back your energy use. I haven't investigated that option, but it's nice to know it's available.

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And to add to Rick's point ... If anyone reading this is thinking of setting the intensity level of the board at the hardware level, make sure you have nothing but lights on the board. Some people will use LOR to power very small motors (See my FAQ, Question about deer motors) in their display. You don't want those to run at anything less than 100%.

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Thank you very much for the help, guys. I am definitely going to need more channels than I first anticipated. And more planning since I won't have all the lights on at any one time.

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I think the time invested in planning your display (and, thus, the electrical side) will be repaid at least twice in reduced aggravation during the height of the season. Although my display is far from perfect this year, the time I spent up front working the details made it relatively painless all December --- no tripped breakers. And that's a good thing.

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