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LOR for general RGB home accent lighting?


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Hi there, I would like to run RGB ribbon under all my soffets, and accent mt deck among other features on my property and control it all with mt LOR system. Last year was my first experience with LOR and I currently have a 16 channel controller, and plan to get another controller before fall. What I would like to do is be able to permeneantly install one of the controllers in/on the house somewhere to control all my RGB ribbons so I can use it year round for ambient lighting, and work it into shows on holidays. This way I can have a soft white for normal days, and use it in my Halloween/Christmas/4th of July shows when needed.

 

What exactly will I need to control all the RGB ribbons? Will my current controller work, or should I buy something different for the RGB and keep my 16 channel for my display lighting?

 

I currently run the advanced version of Showtime Suite S3, will that work for controlling my RGB ribbons?

 

How long of a ribbon can I run without them losing too much voltage? Is there amplifiers I need to get to keep the lights even across my ~80' (longest) run?

 

Is there a common place to get bulk RGB ribbon? Most of what I'm finding is 5-10m lengths, but I would rather get a spool of 50m or more than I can cut to whatever lengths I need.

 

Any info will be greatly appreciate!

CTB16PC
CTB16PC
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Well there is a little problem with your thinking. The CTB16PC is an A.C. controller. As for these RGB ribbons they need a D.C. voltage, most commonly will be either 5VDC or 12VDC. So that rules out the 120VAC controllers you have. And now are these RGB ribbons going to be the dumb strips that all go to the same color through out the strips? Or are you talking about the smart strips that either each RGB lamp can be a different color or three RGB lamps in a group that can be different colors from the next group?  If a dumb strip you can get either the 16 or 24 channels D.C. controller. If a smart strip will be used. Then you are going to have to get a controller from someone else than LOR.

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I am doing what you want to do. I will give you a much longer answer when I'm on a computer - don't really want to write a novel on my phone!

A couple short answers. Ray Wu is the source many of us use for pixels. You can run multiple 5M ribbons, but have to power them separately (more detail later). You will be needing either DC controllers if using dumb strips or a pixel controller if using smart strips.

Lots more later - most likely late this evening.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I figured I would be using the 12v AC adapters that come with the RGB strips to power them. I was just planning on dumb strips like the ones all over ebay. So I can;t use my existing 16 channel controller for RGB, I need to get a DC controller?

 

k6ccc, would love a more detailed explanation of how you are setting yours up! 

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Sorry for the delay in the more detailed answer - ended up with a busy weekend...

As Max said, you will need DC controllers, not AC controllers. You could in theory use your existing AC controllers with the 12V adapters as you described, however you would likely be limited to on or off, and the response time could be quite long depending on the 12V adapters.

In real general terms, there are two types of RGB strips. The first is commonly referred to as "dumb" strips. They are controlled by a DC controller such as the LOR 16 and 24 channel DC boards. Each strip (or section) will light up with the same color and uses 3 channels from your controller (one each for Red, Green, and Blue). An example of dumb strips from Ray Wu's store is:

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/DC12V-5m-one-roll-5050-SMD-30LEDs-m-led-strip-waterproof-by-silicon-tube-IP66/587735379.html

The other kind of strips are commonly referred to as "smart" strips. These strips have a small integrated circuit that reads data from a controller and each pixel (generally either one or three LEDs) is controlled separately.

Which you use depends on what you are wanting to do with them. I am using both in my landscape lighting. I have three brick rings around the base of trees that have dumb strips around the inside edge of the brick. Does a nice job of lighting up the trees. I also use dumb strips for some custom built lights on brick columns and an address sign, and also for some strips under brick steps up to the front porch. I am using a total of 27 channels using three 16 channel DC controller boards (this was done before the 24 channel boards came out).

I also have 17 roses along a wall with smart strip in front of each rose on the back side of brick edging. In this case I am using smart strips. There are a couple reason why I am using smart strip for the roses, but the biggest relates to wiring. 17 roses times 3 channels each would be 51 channels. That would take four 16 channel DC controllers and use a wiring bundle as big as my arm. I am using a San Devices E6804 pixel controller and it is taking only 6 wires. The smart strips require a pixel controller. There are several sources. I have 4 of them from San Devices.

This is an example of WS2811 smart strips:

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/5m-DC12V-30leds-m-10pcs-font-b-ws2811-b-font-ic-meter-10pixels-led-digital-strip/701799_1590021437.html

As for power. The strips in most cases come in 5 meter long strips and it is recommended that you should not use more than that length because the wiring in the strip can't handle any more current without unacceptable voltage drop. To power a longer length of dumb strip, simply feed the power and 3 colors from a single group of three channels to more than one strip. I will point out that you need to pay attention to current capacity of the controller. For smart strips, generally power and ground are separately from each strip, but the data wire (and ground) are daisy chained from the end of one strip to the beginning of the next strip.

That should answer at least most of your questions.

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I too RGB strip lights as accent lights throughout my yard.  I am currently using Dumb Strips, but will one day switch to Smart.  I have them run on all my soffits for accent light and I change the color for the Current Holiday each month.  Instead of trying to hook all the strands together I suggest breaking them up into smaller sections, i.e. Garage, Porch, Side, Window, etc.  This will do a few things: one, you won't have to worry so much about total power usage on one channel. Another, the reason I did this, is to give you more opportunities during songs in your display. More separate blinking lights is more fun than all at once.  Luckily I have easy access to my attic, so I ran the wires from each section to the garage where I have a couple of DC Controllers hanging on the wall.  This made the wire lengths shorter so there wasn't the worry of Voltage Loss. There is a Blog by HolidayCoro that helped me learn the basics for hooking them up.  There are many LOR Forums as well if you search RGB Lighting.

 

My favorite usage for the RGB lights that I have done is I have some Low Voltage lights running throughout all my flower beds and on top of my fence posts that I converted to RGB.  I took some small sections of Strip Lights and Glued them inside.  So now I can have any color light instead of just white.  These I want to change to Smart Pixels so I can control the color in each one, but just haven't found the time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

all great info, thanks! So do the RGB strips pull more power than a standard LED strand of xmas lights? I only ask because on my 16 channel AC controller I have zones (like the edge of my roof) that run 200' of continuous lights on one channel. I've never sen any signs of voltage drop or loss of performance. Just wondering why a dumb RGB strip would be limited to 3m (~15')?

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More questions, when mixing controllers (16 channel AC & 24 channel DC) is it pretty straight forward in the sequencing software as far as programming RGB zones versus standard LED zones? I see the DC controller is basically just a PCB board with inputs for the 4 wire +RGB, so do I need to make my own box to mount the board in, or are people just mounting the board by itself inside on a wall or something? I bought my 16 channel controller assembled so this is new to me. I wouldn't have a problem figuring out a box to mount it to the wall in, just wondering how others are handling this?

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I, like several others I've seen, have mounted the DC board and the power supply in a CG-1500 enclosure.  It all fits nice and snug and you can hang it out with the rest of the controllers.  I like it because it's about the same size and the LOR AC Controllers. There are several forums in LOR, if you search for DC Enclosures you can find many examples.

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all great info, thanks! So do the RGB strips pull more power than a standard LED strand of xmas lights? I only ask because on my 16 channel AC controller I have zones (like the edge of my roof) that run 200' of continuous lights on one channel. I've never sen any signs of voltage drop or loss of performance. Just wondering why a dumb RGB strip would be limited to 3m (~15')?

No, but - It's all about current.

<Warning, technical content>

A typical LED on a pixel strip or string draws about 20 milli amp (mA) at a voltage between 2.75 and 3.3 volts (primarily depending on the color). In order to feed that on a 120V AC string, the incoming AC voltage is rectified to produce DC and then a whole bunch of LEDs are wired together along with a current limiting resistor. That means that for example on a 70 LED string (which will generally be wired as 2 strings of 35 LEDs) one string takes 20mA and the other string takes another 20mA for a total current draw of 40mA.

On a typical 12 volt pixel strip there are normally 3 LEDs in series - each of these 3 LED groups takes 20mA. So on a 5 meter strip with 150 LEDs, there are 50 of these 3 LED series strings each drawing 20mA, or 1,000mA (or one amp of current). If this is a RGB strip there are 3 colors in each LED so the current (at full on) of 3 times that or about 3 amps. The trace on the flexible PC board that makes up the strip can only handle about that much current.

Power courtesy of Ohm's law equals voltage times current. With 1 / 10 the available voltage, the required current is 10 times as much for the same amount of power. The ability of a wire or PC board trace to handle power is primarily limited by the current. Voltage only limits the amount of insulation required (or spacing of traces and components on a PC board).

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Thanks Little_b, I'll do some more searching for enclosures. I haven't even looked at power supplies yet so I'll look into that also.

 

K6ccc, great explanation, I've seen similar on some of the car forums I frequent so it sort of makes sense to me, lol.

 

So far this is what I'm planning on buying for the front soffit of the house:

 

4 of these IP66 5m 5050 RGB LED strips: http://www.ebay.com/itm/271275088515?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

 

2 of these signal boosters: http://www.ebay.com/itm/DC12-24V-12A-RGB-Signal-Repeater-Amplifier-for-LED-Flexible-Strip-light-/121347212376?pt=US_Lighting_Parts_and_Accessories&hash=item1c40db8458

 

and 2 of these DC24 controllers: http://www.wowlights.com/ProductDetail.asp?Category=3&Product=499

 

So I still need to source two boxes for the controllers, and a power supply (2 power supplies?). Time to go searching.

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If you are only getting 4 Strips you won't need 2 controllers, unless you are looking to expand in the future.  As for the Lights I would look at something a little more Weather proof.  I would recommend an IP68 rating, especially if you plan on using them out in the yard.  It's cheaper to spend the $$$ up front for better quality than to replace them later.

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hmm, so I can run 4-6 strips off one 24DC controller? Would I still need the amplifier then, or would the 12v power supply for the controller power the strips ok? I'll look at the IP68 rated lights, but I used IP66 on my boat and they have been fine for a couple years now so I figured they would be okay tucked up under my soffets. Thanks for all the help!

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