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Running Extension Cords


godman
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Newbie question here, which is better or does it even matter?

 

1-Running long extension cords from my 120V outlets to the LOR controller and shorter extension cords from the LOR controller to the lights...

 

or

 

2-Running shorter extension cords from my 120V outlet to the LOR controller and then running longer extension cords from the LOR controller to the lights...

 

I'm just trying to set up my display on paper and I will have to use at least one of those scenarios above & before I get to far I want to know if either one was better than the other, would either require using different gauge wire other than SPT1...?

 

Thanks in advance!

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Defiantly running the long power cords, with your controller as close to the element as possible. You'd be surprised how much SPT you would go through for 16 runs on each box

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I agree with 1983ss454, close to the light elements (if not in them).  The first year I put my controllers right next to the house power outlets and ran 16 channels of extension cords all over the yard. The next year I had 48 channels and didn't have to buy extension cords because I moved the controllers out by (and in ) my light elements.

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When running power cords from the house to the controller, any specific gauge wire needed? Does any loss of power occur like in DC lights when running long extension cords from the power outlet to controllers?

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When running power cords from the house to the controller, any specific gauge wire needed? Does any loss of power occur like in DC lights when running long extension cords from the power outlet to controllers?

 

 

Define "long".  Running 50' or 100' 16gage is no problem.  However 14gage for 100' is better if you are pulling a lot of juice.

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I try to put my controllers close to the item being controlled as well.  If I have an item or two that I need an extension cord for, depending on what it is defines what I use, if a LED or Incandescent light strand, I use the same wire that is used on the strand {I only have no more than 3 strands of LED's or Incandescents on any channel}.

 

 I actually use old male/female pass through ends and female ends from old light strands that no longer work and make my extension cord using them.  

 

Pros: the male pass through has fuses in it, so if something goes wrong with the light strands it's controlling, the fuses in the extension cord blow.  

 

Cons: Having to replace more fuses in those type ends if, or when, they blow.  The only culprits I've found that tend to blow the fuse{s} are wire frames that are staked into the ground directly and that the light strand on it is too close to the ground.   Other than that I've had a lot of success with this type of home-built extension cord.  Been using them for 6 years now and I've only had one wireframe deer that created a problem.   Moved the lights up on the legs a little higher and solved that issue.

 

But at least the extension cord fuse blew in this case and NOT the controllers fuse, and also kept any damage happening to the controller.

 

So, myself, I prefer to have and use these "extra fused" home-brewed extension cords when possible.

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#1 is better, buy a kill o watt, many controllers may only need 1 power cord with a tee on the end; Load balance bigger power items; cords cost a lot. Spt2 and vampire plugs can save $$; I don't use fuses but do use gfci outlets; decision is whether a controller need 1 or 2 feed cords and most are fine with 1 personally (usually 14ga); excellent advise above !!; worst setup is centralizing controllers IMHO; I put controllers on roof also

Edited by taybrynn
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I always use a GFCI that powers my display.   Just the fused plugs are an added protection.  Fuse blows before GFCI trips in the plug.  At least this way only the one item controlled goes dark instead of my entire display because the GFCI tripped over what a simple fuse could protect.

 

Again, that's just MY preference, others mileage may vary.

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Absolutely go with the first option.

I don't know the math on it but you will experience a drop if you go farther than your cord can handle.

My primary power lines are black 15amp lines that can handle about as much as the controllers themselves.

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The sad part is that i had 3 controllers stop working due to a gfci trip and it still took me a few hours to notice it as other things were still working. Once it was as megatree with a shorted out strand caused by wind whipping that broke some bulbs at the top. It would short anytime the wind made the strand whip the broken bulb into the megatree pole. A fused line would have helped a lot in narrowing this down faster (and limited scope of outage) as it took me a long time to figure out which of 48 cords on 3 controllers was causing the short. The other two controllers had power but lost signal coming from this first one. AlwAys fun to figure out in the snow, wind and cold ... In the dark in front of 20 cars .... Lol

Edited by taybrynn
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Resetting a GFCI is soooo much faster & easier than fussing with those microscopic fuses.  I use a panel of GFCI outlets with green indicator lights.  So one quick look at my panel tells me which circuit is off.  When I do have a GFCi pop, I automatically check my wire-frames.  If not than it'll be a blow mold, next would be anything else close to the ground.

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I too put my controllers out with the lights and décor.  One long cord instead 16 is easier to keep track of.  Some controllers only need one cord with a tee and others need 2 going to separate breakers depending on the power needed. I make sure to use GFCI plugs off the house and I run 12AWG cords to the controllers.  It might be bigger than I need, but I won't have to worry about the wire getting hot.  In my "static" days I ran into this issue often.  I went with 12AWG because at Christmas time Costco sells 100' cords for less than the 25'-50' cords at Lowes and Home Depot.  On the shorter runs I cut the 100' in half, put new plugs on and still was cheaper.

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Resetting a GFCI is soooo much faster & easier than fussing with those microscopic fuses.  I use a panel of GFCI outlets with green indicator lights.  So one quick look at my panel tells me which circuit is off.  When I do have a GFCi pop, I automatically check my wire-frames.  If not than it'll be a blow mold, next would be anything else close to the ground.

Like stated, I use both, but if it's raining and a GFCI trips, I'd have to go out in the rain to reset it as they are also outside.  So instead of my entire or a part of my display going dark, I only lose the ONE ITEM controlled by the fused cord, that's not as noticeable as your entire display or a portion of it going dark.    And I don't find it that difficult to replace the fuse{s} in the cords once the rain stops and can get that element back to working.  If it's a light rain, I unplug that fused cord from the controller channel so no power, replace fuse, plug back in and go.  Again, this way I don't have all 16 channels not working, just one item.   And I've only had to replace fuses in 2 different cords once in the going on 4 years I've been using them now.  And I use around 50 of these fused home-made extension cords in my display.

 

Like said, it's whatever works best for folks, this works out well for me and my display, so I'll keep using the fused cords, as well as the GFCI outlets, gives me the best of both.

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