Jump to content

Waterproofing question


Recommended Posts

I did not plug mine this last year and with the freezing rain and snow the ice built up over the ends and then completed the circuit.  I am also looking for the something that will work for this year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Going to play the devils advocate here for a minute Grinch. You say that the ice completed the circuit. How did you determine this fact? And Dave how do you know it did not complete the circuit? What does complete the circuit supposed to mean? You both seem to be certain in your statements, but I am wondering what you mean about this circuit business.

 

Jackel this water proofing is tricky business. Note something that is easy to do. Even if you take lets say the last 6" of cord and turn it back up under a glass jar. You will find that water can creep bacj up the wire due to the capillary effect. Best bet is just to keep it out of standing water and if possible, keep the end also away from anything that conducts for as far as you can.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't use tape - it will only serve to trap moisture. It doesn't freeze here in Calif - but we hopefully get rain in the winter, and I use GFI on all power and then keep the plug/socket connections off the ground. I've not had any problem. I use vampire plugs on all light circuits to the controllers. 

I also found that using metal tomato cages to create mini-trees requires the use of a PVC stand off to keep the metal frame from sitting on the ground - That was a first year surprise that did cause GFI tripping and troubleshooting to find the problem.  I use a 3/4" pvc pipe driven into the ground - that supports the tomato cage, keeping it off the ground - since then - no problems.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I cover mine in electrical tape and do all that I can to make sure they are not in standing water and the end is pointed down.  The baby proof plug, taped over should work well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last year was my second year. The first year I didn't have any problems with rain. However, this year we has an ice storm and the first eight channels on controller #1 trip my GFI breaker. I had to narrow it down and found it was one of my mini trees. All the plugs where covered in ice. I broke the ice from them and the problems stopped. I try to have all the plugs facing down. I don't know how to waterproof them. Unless we have ice, I down normally have any problems.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Going to play the devils advocate here for a minute Grinch. You say that the ice completed the circuit. How did you determine this fact? And Dave how do you know it did not complete the circuit? What does complete the circuit supposed to mean? You both seem to be certain in your statements, but I am wondering what you mean about this circuit business.

 

Jackel this water proofing is tricky business. Note something that is easy to do. Even if you take lets say the last 6" of cord and turn it back up under a glass jar. You will find that water can creep bacj up the wire due to the capillary effect. Best bet is just to keep it out of standing water and if possible, keep the end also away from anything that conducts for as far as you can.

Max-Paul

I was just trying to keep the wording simple but to explain.  We had freezing rain last year and the GFI  tripped and would not reset. Went out with a flash light and found ice built up over the plug ends and chipped the ice off and used my breath to blow out the plug ends.  Reset the GFI which then stayed ON.  When I said completed the circuit I meant shorted the plug end.  Sorry for any confusion

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No problem Grinch. I was just wondering why you said it would and Dave said it would not.

 

Any time you have current flowing as it is clear you did. You have a circuit, even if it is just .000,001 Amp (or also known as 1 micro Amp.) Just a bit of info for anyone, not directed at you Grinch, more for Dave's info.  More info, sure there is ultra pure water that will not conduct per say. Even seen an ultra clean T.V. dunked into this kind of water and keep on working. But folk, rain water is not ultra pure, nor is your string of lights. Thus there will always be a circuit when moisture is present. All you and I can do is to minimize the amount of current that will flow from the hot lead to the neutral lead or contact. Hanging the open end down. promote drainage, put under shelter, and keep away from things that conduct. Once you have done all of that and maybe a few other suggestions that someone else will come up with. Is a crap shoot after that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I need some ideas on what to do with the open plugs on the string ends. Some advocate taping, some not. I've even read where baby safety plugs is another idea. I don't PLAN on having any ends on the ground, but even the ones at the top of my trees and house will get some snow.

Cover the plug ends in dielectric silicone grease and do not wipe off.  

Edited by Bernie
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've not done anything to "waterproof" any connections in my display.  With about 680 ordinary channels, I've got cords and connections laying around everywhere - hundreds and hundreds of them.  We've had winters (like this one) where the snow was so deep that mini trees got almost totally covered, and it stayed that way for the entire lighting season.  Since 2008 the only problems I've had was a GFCI or three tripping during nights with heavy rain.  (Can hardly fault them for doing what they were designed to do.)  Taping the open ends wouldn't have prevented any of those occasions.

 

And what about those of you use incandescent mini lights and also tape your ends - do y'all tape every light socket too?  You should - those allow as much water to enter as un-taped ends allow.  What good do you think it does for you to tape the ends of the strings while leaving all those porous sockets open?  If you're worried about "completing a circuit", the distance between the exposed wires in the base of a light socket is a whole lot closer than a plug end.  Oops - you probably didn't know that.  Sorry for peeing in your cereal.  Do y'all slobber grease around the base of your C7 and C9 lights also?  You should if you want to be thorough.  Where do you think the rain that runs down the outside of those bulbs go?

 

I don't mean to offend anyone, but this is a totally ridiculous thread.  It doesn't matter what you do, the only way you're going to prevent water from getting in is to keep your lights inside.  As has been said, keep connections out of puddles and save your angst, your tape, your grease, and your wasted effort.  

 

Just saying.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used the baby proofing end caps but only had them light strings connected to one electrical circuit.  I had three circuits, 3 different circuit breakers, that had lights/controllers connected and I didn't notice any difference.  Although we had only one big rain storm (California rain storn) and it didn't do anything to gfci's or affect anything.  Like others have mentioned, I think as long as they're not submerged in a puddle or subject to constant direct water flow, they should be ok but it never hurts to try and make them water resistant. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jackel this water proofing is tricky business. Note something that is easy to do. Even if you take lets say the last 6" of cord and turn it back up under a glass jar. You will find that water can creep bacj up the wire due to the capillary effect. Best bet is just to keep it out of standing water and if possible, keep the end also away from anything that conducts for as far as you can.

I'm not electrically naive. I understand you can't totally waterproof anything without making it inoperable and unusable. It's not rain that concerns me, it's melting snow and ice.

 

Don't use tape - it will only serve to trap moisture. It doesn't freeze here in Calif - but we hopefully get rain in the winter, and I use GFI on all power and then keep the plug/socket connections off the ground. I've not had any problem. I use vampire plugs on all light circuits to the controllers. 

I also found that using metal tomato cages to create mini-trees requires the use of a PVC stand off to keep the metal frame from sitting on the ground - That was a first year surprise that did cause GFI tripping and troubleshooting to find the problem.  I use a 3/4" pvc pipe driven into the ground - that supports the tomato cage, keeping it off the ground - since then - no problems.

I didn't even consider using electrical tape to try and keep water out of a socket and I'm making my mini-trees out of 1/2" PVC. Yes, tomato cages would be much cheaper, but with PVC, I can make them MY height and shape.

 

Last year was my second year. The first year I didn't have any problems with rain. However, this year we has an ice storm and the first eight channels on controller #1 trip my GFI breaker. I had to narrow it down and found it was one of my mini trees. All the plugs where covered in ice. I broke the ice from them and the problems stopped. I try to have all the plugs facing down. I don't know how to waterproof them. Unless we have ice, I down normally have any problems.

Ice and snow are more my concern than rain. Actually, it's the MELTING ice/snow that's more concerning. The 2 weeks leading into Christmas, I would be getting home after the show should have started. I would hate to come driving down the block to a dark house because a GFCI or breaker tripped.

 

I don't mean to offend anyone, but this is a totally ridiculous thread.  It doesn't matter what you do, the only way you're going to prevent water from getting in is to keep your lights inside.  As has been said, keep connections out of puddles and save your angst, your tape, your grease, and your wasted effort.  

 

Just saying.

George, I take all advice with a grain of salt. I understand your point of view and I totally agree there's no way to totally waterproof the ends other than not using it. My question was directed more at the starting ends at the start of my mini and mega trees. When we get snow, and we will, it will cover those ends. Karma being what it is, if I raise the ends 6", we will get 1'....if I raise it 1', we will get 2'. I probably should have asked "Will exposed ends covered in snow be OK?"

 

Thanks for everyone's replies

Eddi D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First off, you seem to be having issues more with ice built up if I read this correctly... or at least someone put that on here. 

 

Personally what I do is make sure the last end of the string is facing down so water drips off.  We don't get snow here so not so much of an issue. 

 

But if I were really worried about the build up of ice I might put a small plastic baggie over the end and then face it up so the water doesn't run into the baggie.  I have even put PCBs in baggies and wire tied the end, faced the open part down, and they work all winter. 

 

I actually think George is pretty much right in this case.   Those lights are made to work outside. just keep them from getting puddling water. 

 

There really is no 100% fix that is practical.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Different Parts of the country have different weather. So what works for one person might not work for another.  Yes it is impossible to waterproof everything unless you bring it all inside as George stated, and Yes the lights are indoor/outdoor rated which means they can get wet.  It doesn't mean they will work 100 % with out an issue.  In Texas you really don't have to worry about Snow and in Minnesota you get more Snow then you would get freezing rain, but somewhere in between someone gets more freezing rain than both of you.  I don't think the original post was asking for a 100% fix, he was just looking for ideas to help reduce the number of problems.  I personally had no problems with my lights buried in snow or working in the rain.  But when we got freezing rain and the plug ends were the size of golf balls with ice the GFI tripped repeatably, it did not matter if the plugs faced up or down they were covered in ice.  You can't fault someone for trying to solve a problem because someday someone might figure it out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It wasn't my intent to fault anyone.  I was simply trying to point out that there really isn't any way to prevent water from getting in.  And in so doing, I hoped it would save newbies a great deal of needless angst and useless effort trying to remedy a situation that doesn't exist.

 

Ice is a different story, although except for GFCI trips, it typically will only cause an issue when water freezes inside a plug/receptacle (or the base of a light) and expands between two contacts so as to prevent them from making said contact. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its funny to see how many different approaches are taken on this issue.  Its almost like asking about a favorite sports team.    From our perspective we've always electrical taped and sometimes used di-electric grease for out static displays and never had a single GFI trip.  Last year was our first with animated displays and I was swayed to leave the open electrical ends open.   After a good long drizzly rain, we missed a couple of nights trying to get the plugs dried back out.  Before it was all over, I was out there with an air compressor.  The next day, I went back out and taped all the connectors again tightly as we did in previous years, and didn't have another issue the whole season.   

 

For us, there is no question - tape heavily.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First off, you seem to be having issues more with ice built up if I read this correctly... or at least someone put that on here. 

 

Personally what I do is make sure the last end of the string is facing down so water drips off.  We don't get snow here so not so much of an issue. 

 

But if I were really worried about the build up of ice I might put a small plastic baggie over the end and then face it up so the water doesn't run into the baggie.  I have even put PCBs in baggies and wire tied the end, faced the open part down, and they work all winter. 

 

I actually think George is pretty much right in this case.   Those lights are made to work outside. just keep them from getting puddling water. 

 

There really is no 100% fix that is practical.

Yes, ice is a problem. But, snow even more so.

 

 I don't think the original post was asking for a 100% fix, he was just looking for ideas to help reduce the number of problems.  I personally had no problems with my lights buried in snow or working in the rain. 

I'd be naive in thinking there's a 100%/foolproof 'fix'. I'm just looking to reduce any possible problems.

 

Its funny to see how many different approaches are taken on this issue.  Its almost like asking about a favorite sports team.    From our perspective we've always electrical taped and sometimes used di-electric grease for out static displays and never had a single GFI trip.  Last year was our first with animated displays and I was swayed to leave the open electrical ends open.   After a good long drizzly rain, we missed a couple of nights trying to get the plugs dried back out.  Before it was all over, I was out there with an air compressor.  The next day, I went back out and taped all the connectors again tightly as we did in previous years, and didn't have another issue the whole season.   

 

For us, there is no question - tape heavily.

Exactly. You could have 1 person using nothing with no problems and another placing tape around a baggie inside a plastic tub tripping GFCI's everyday. This makes it confusing for a newbie.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jackal,

I found a thread one time about someone asking about waterproofing the controllers for their CCR's so I now use that for all of my plug ends that will be on the ground. I use small tupperwear containers. Yes, it can be unsightly and No I won't win The Great Christmas Light Fight for neatness but it works. I spray paint them black so they are not noticed at all during the show and "kinda" blend in in the grassy area during the day. What I do is take a rotary tool (Dremel) and cut two small sections of the container bottom of each end if it is for connecting a power cord to a light string or one set of small cuts in a very small container if using on a light string end. The cuts are only about 1/2 inch in length. Then lay the cord or cords in these sections and snap the lid back on. This will leave the connection dangling a few inches above the bottom of the container. If some water/moisture gets in you'll be fine. This also helps in ventalation so moisture doesn't build up inside the container. The ones used for connecting the power cord to the light string are held down by pieces of wire hanger cut about 8-10" in length then bent in almost half to create a 'V' then pushed into the ground to secure each end of the wires to hold the container in place. You could also use plastic tent spikes grabbing the cords as you pound the stake in the ground. I have been doing this for the last two years and I am one of the tape users but everytime I tear down my display these containers never have water inside.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Al

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ok guys here is my thinking... I never tapped greased or made any attempt to waterproof my plugs. I think if it's raining hard enough or you have a foot of snow or ice in your yard ,and are tripping gfcis (with all of you should have) then you don't need to run your show anyway. This is my third season and I have lots several nights do to rain. So what next day it all dries out and I'm, up and running again

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have had some issues with the GFI tripping, usually when it's raining.  I have covered ends with tape, elevated the plugs, put in plastic bags/wrap--which helps.   But, always that 1 weather gets around it all.  The interesting thing is that is it gets cold enough to change to snow (ice....still trying to figure out), the issue seems to resolve itself.  If only snow, never had a problem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 months later...

I have more of a problem with the female end of the led strings. Has anyone ever hot glued the male slots on the led strings? This last week we had pretty heavy rain and it lasted all day and most of the night. Had my GFI breakers trip. I went out and turned over all the female end and tried to get all the moisture out  of both ends of the leds connections, but that didn't help, breaker tripped again. Next day did the same thing and last night it only tripped once. Reset the breaker and it finished the show.

I would like to hot glue the female connector on the male plug and the female connector at the end of the plug. I don't use these in my setup anyway. Any thoughts?

 

Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I tried reading through all of these responses but they looked like tallies for each side:

 

1 vote for tape, 1 against tape, 1 vote for, 1 against... blah, blah, blah.

 

This year I tried something new. I wrapped all my plugs BEFORE the storms approached with regular black electric tape. I then used some old bubble wrap and duct taped each set of cords. I used custom-cut LED rope light I cut and powered myself... I unscrewed the power caps and squirted some silicone into the thread and screwed the power shut. Following this, I went to each end cap and did the same - took it off, squirted some silicone in, replaced the cap. So far, no problems. I even water-sealed the door bringing the cords to the controllers. I took off the draft protector and fed all the cords leading inside - also leaving a gap for water or moisture to leak in. It took 2 plastic garbage bags and 2 rocks to keep it sealed, of course, with the fair amount of duct tape.

 

So, in short, to each, their own. If you feel comfortable without taping and are willing to accept the potential doom of bad weather, don't tape. Not willing to risk shorting out at a minimum ONE channel? TAPE IT UP! I used to clip some incandescents to the eaves and one end of the plug was exposed - duct taped that sucker one time and it has lasted more than 10 years.

 

Good luck!

LN

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...