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Extension Cords


Doug L
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The $7 I pay for a 40 ft 16 gauge cord at Wallyworld is cheaper than the materials if I were to get them in bulk. And if I could buy the materials cheaper, the $ extra that I would save is worth my time.

I purchase the pre-made cords because I do not have the time to sit and make my own.

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Donald Puryear

Found its cheaper to buy most of the time.

18/2 -15ft $2.75

16/3 -40ft $8.00

16/3 - 50ft $11.00

I do make most of my supple cables. 10/3 twist-lock cables,10/4 twist-lock cables, and some special cluster cables.

I use all 12/3 or better for all supply cabling

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I've always just purchased my own cords in the past, but found the extra hassle of the shorter cords just not worth it. In my area, 15' cords are $3-4.

At skycraftsurplus, the 18/2 lamp cord is $0.06 per foot (1000 feet or more purchased).

I found the vampire plugs for $0.84 each (bags of 100).

So for comparison, the reason I went to make my own was actually to save the time running to the store (can make the plugs faster than I can drive to buy them particularly if more than 1 trip per season, plus gas).

15' = 0.06x15= $0.90, male plug + female plug = $0.84 + $0.84 = $1.68

Total cost: 0.9 + 1.68 = $2.58

40' cord (18/2 though) = 2.4+1.68= $4.08

As I run through things, it sure seems like a lot of smaller runs with cords (6-9 feet) probably not worth the hassle, put for 15' or higher it probably is. Particularly if a display is mostly LED (like mine) where I really don't have to worry about the power running through the cords.

Interested to hear other thoughts on the topic.

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Richard Hamilton

Doug L wrote:

Do most of you purchase pre-made or do you make your won.

Generally, what guage..13-3, 12-3 ?



Happy Holidays and into 2008!



Doug


Even by having an engineering background, I would not dare to make my own. It's just not worth the time and effort... not to mention that they are not likely to be very waterproof unless you are careful.

For long runs, I buy the "25 feet" 16-3 cords at Home Depot here every Christmas as they seem to be cheaper at that time. Example, I just bought 10 more of them a couple weeks ago for $3.79 each. They are thicker round 3-prong cords that are far better than the typical lamp cords used for in indoor use. They are typically green (blend in with the ground better) and really intended to be used for power equipment, so they could be overkill for Xmas lights. I've bought the shorter run 15' cords for $1.79 at Walmart. Prices do seem to change from time to time.

For supply cable, I use 12-3 (if under 25 feet), and use 10-3 (if under 50 feet). However, most of the time I don't need controller supply extensions since I installed outlets in most places where I use controllers every year.
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jeffandnicole

In the past, I have always made my own cords using the method my wife showed me, which was the method her dad showed her:

18/2 gauge wire - 250' roll, about $30 or so. Plugs - about $1.20 each. Female Ends - about $2.20 each. Inline clips, about $1.20 each. Prefably Brown, so it doesn't show up in the grass as much.

Since we would have several things on one line, I would make the cord length to suit, then add the inline clips where additional decorations would be plugged into the line.

As I'm adding more LOR units to my display, I can have them closer to the decorations they're controlling, and thus need shorter extension cords. Now, I'm simply buying 9' and 15' extension cords (labeled indoor, but they're fine outside). A 9 footer can be had for about $2.25 at Target; 15 footers are around $4.00. When you consider that I'm spending $3.40 (plus tax) on just the ends of the self made cords, I'm now only making them for when I need to go more than 15 feet and when I have various decorations I need to plug into a single line.

Outdoor Tri-plug adaptors can also be found for 99c around Christmas time, so that factors into the method I use also.

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Last year, I bought over one hundred 16g 50ft green extension cords from Home Depot.

I asked a lot of questions throughout the year trying to decide what to do about extension cords for this year.

I hesitated, but ended up purchasing over 10000ft of SPT2 wire from Action Lighting.

Which do I prefer now?

Making my own cords from SPT2 wire. Here are my reasons in no particular order:

1. Cost was slightly cheaper at the time I made the purchase (price difference was less than $0.50 for a 50ft cord).

2. More efficient use of wire. No unused cord coiled up. Cut SPT2 wire to various standard lengths (25, 30, 50, and 60ft).

3. Much easier to handle, less weight, and less bulk. When you're trying to manage over 300+ extension cords, the SPT2 wire was hands down the winner. It was lighter, more flexible, and overall easier to use.

4. For my specific setup/application and display requirements, SPT2 wire worked perfectly for me. YMMV.

Next year, I will order another 5000ft of SPT2 and make my own cords.

Just my 2 cents...

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Jeff Millard wrote:

I make bundles of 12 channel cables that are about 40' long. They have 4 channel bundles that share a neutral. The hots are all SPT II, and the Neutrals are #14 THHN. At one end I use dollar store Triple plugs, and at the other end I add a set of Molex connectors with pin connections rated at 10 amps. The Male Molex stays on the controllers, and the females get packed away in the off season. The pic is of the cable for the Mega Tree green lights... There's 5 more just like it...

Jeff



That looks pretty efficient - how does the cost break down comparing your time to make and materials? I suppose there is also a "risk" factor of something not working right (at least for us non-engineers).
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Jeff Millard wrote:

They have 4 channel bundles that share a neutral. The hots are all SPT II, and the Neutrals are #14 THHN.


Just wanted to thank you for saying this(and the picture) as I've been thinking about the most efficient way to power all the channels I'm planning for 2008. Thanks again.
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I learned this one from a link found here at this Support Center......2 Channel Cords. I opted to try this idea to save on cords for the wifey and her harsh reality on extention cord useage!!! I can really see the value in placing the controller well within close range due to the cost of cords, but this year I was a bit hesitant to simply place all that money and the power of the magical christmas box in the front yard.

http://www.christmasinkent.com/HowToCords.htm



I never once blew a tripped out breaker in almost 29 days now, looked at my cords each day to make sure they were holding up, nothing got hot and measured with a amp meter... the show goes on another 3 days! I live in the Seattle area and its been raining here, a ton! Just make sure you know how much amps your pulling through on a 2 channel cord. I bought mine at good old Wal-Mart, 100', 16 guage rated at 15 amps means each channel can deliver safely 7.5 amps each channel, so it really helped with the small things.....peace

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OK, I will add my 2 cents and word of caution....

Hope everyone understands Jeff is talking about sharing a neutral in his wire harness.

If anyone is planning on taking this practice to the load center (panel box) get a licenced electrician and a permit. There is a lot to take into consideration then applying this practice. Some topics are, the neutral actually carries the load back to the load center so it will need to be sized properly, the two circuits not be on the same leg and it will require disabling two circuits to have the neatrual dead if any work on the circuits is being done. Also, there are some early reports that that this practice can cause nuisance tripping of AFCI's (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter).

I am not a electrician but know enough when it's time to call those that are licenced.

Lee

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Just wanted to thank all the LOR veterans here for all of the wonderful information being shared. As a complete noobie(well I guess 99% noobie is more accurate since the solder is just cooling off on my first kit behind me :D) it's great to see so many answers to soo many questions. Most of the questions I've already had have been answered without me having to actually ask.

So, thanks again and just because you don't get 100s of public "THANK YOUs!!!" doesn't mean you're not helping 100s of us noobs out.

cheers.gif

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morningsidemustangs

Jeff Millard wrote:

Just a little info about how I soldered the connections together... I soldered the neutrals to the THHN first, leaving about 6" of the hots. Then I cut each hot at a different length so the connections would be along the wire and not all in the same place. Then when I taped it up there wasn't a big bulge at the connections, it was spread out with two on one side of the neutral connection and two on the other. I used heat shrink for all the connections as it helps to keep everything tidy.

Jeff could you show a diagram how this whole bundle works? from the molex to the plugs? maybe without the tape?

Great ideas!
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  • 2 weeks later...

Jeff Millard wrote:

I make bundles of 12 channel cables that are about 40' long.

Jeff,

Sorry if this question sounds dumb but, you "make" the cables? I'm assuming you mean the 40' snake? If I'm misunderstanding, please correct me, but how do you go about making a cable like that?

I think I can handle attaching the Molex connectors, but I'm totally lost if I have to make a 40' bundled cable. Can you just purchase lengths of cable already bundled? If so, where?

Again, if I'm totally up in the night here, please steer me in the right direction.

Thanks,

Rick
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I have not made any cords lately, but I have in the past for other non-Christmas projects so I would have no qualms about making cords. That being said, I have found that if you shop carefully you can accumulate quite a stash of cords for very reasonable costs. I have been buying cords every year in the after Christmas sales. This year I picked up 25 3-packs of green cords at Home Depot for $1.24 per pack. Each pack has a 6ft, a 9 ft and a 15ft cord. At standard pricing a 6ft cord is $1.24. I found 15 of these packs today tucked away back in the Electrical Dept and not in the Christmas Clearance area.

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