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Driveway arch ideas for a simple 8 channel arch.


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So, you guys were so helpful on the mini tree ideas, I thought I'd ask about arches.  I've been looking all over Youtube and goolging, and cant quite find what I'm looking to do.

I wanna do 2 arches over my driveway.   the bottom span will be about 15ft, (driveway is 13.5, and I wanna leave some room.

I'm using plain ole light strings of LED bulbs, and I wanna be able to store this as easily as possible after the season.

So, I'm thinking strings wrapped on larger PVC sleeves, and smaller PVC for the arch itself.

 

My thought was this.

 

rebar drove in the ground a ft,  Then I guess maybe 3/4 PVC sticks, prob 25ft of length, and use threaded unions, or just a threaded pvc fitting to connect them together so they are secure but easy to separate after.  Essentially they connect and form the arch.

For the lights, I'm thinking then 1" PVC, and so if the total arch is 25ft, then each light segment is about 3 ft.   Of course, a 3 ft section wont slide over a curved 3/4 section, so then i'm thinking each light segment is actually 2x 1.5 ft sections.   I wrap the lights onto the first 1.5 ft section and secure with hot glue at each end so they dont slide off, then continue that one channel of lights onto the next 1.5 ft section.  Those two slide onto the arch sort of together to allow the extra bending but its 1 channel.


That gets repeated 7 more times, for an 8 channel arch.   Obviously if there are 2 connection points on the arch, I'll have to put 1 or 2 light segments in before tthe final connections and all other channels can slide onfrom each end.    Run the small Lamp cord cords I need to make and zip tie along the arch.  

Was thinking of using white light cords, since they will be so plainly visible, and still debating if I wanna use white lights, or blue, or red.   Also thought when I get another controller, i'll add more lights of a different color on top, and each arch will be a 2 color 16 channel arch.

Both arches will be from right at the bottom lower end of my driveway near the street, and the second one will be spaced up about 5 ft further toward the house.  I have a truck, van, and sedan that need to come in and out without risk of hitting, so with the truck being about 6 ft tall, prob the center of the arch will be about12 ft high is my guess. (Due to some sag I'm sure).

Am I making this way too difficult?

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I don't think that "1 pvc will work or will be strong enough. You should consider "1.5 and use the gray kind as it bends easier. My driveway arch was done using "3/4 Pex with two 100 pixel strips inside. I quickly discovered it was way too weak to hold itself up. I ended up adding a "1 gray tube to it and even that wasn't enough, therefore a second one. Its a kludge for sure. I also discovered that rebar wasn't doing the trick either so had to use (each side) three larger steel rods for using steel wire with. I think they are used for concrete forms but truly not sure. Even after all of that, I had to use support rope to stabilize it due to wind. I had previously tried the bridge support type arrangement, only to have it sag due to the material I used. Another failure 😬

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I have five arches across my driveway made of 1 inch pvc. We had 40 mph wind last year and they held up.

I use 3 10 foot sections of pvc per arch. Each End Arch section is connected with a T connector. Inside arches are  fitted with a 4 way connector. So each arch has a cross member. I use a small screw to hold the pipe in each connector.

I tried the rebar the first year and wasn't happy. What I found worked better was using a 1 1/2 piece of pvc. Cut one end so it is spiked and drive end into ground. Than just slip your 1 inch piece in. I finished them by spraying with red paint for a candy cane type of look.

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I run four driveway arches and I use 1.5 inch Gray electrical pvc, 34 feet long to span an 18 foot driveway. I take 2 inch pvc 18 inches long and put them one foot in the ground on each side of the driveway and slip the 1.5 inch pipe inside them.

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Thanks for the replies here.

I would have initially thought 1.5" PVC would be impossible to bend to a 180 degree shape.

SO, are you guys just spin wrapping your lights or are you using slip on pieces of larger that have the lights wrapped on them?

 

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22 hours ago, cdlouke said:

I have five arches across my driveway made of 1 inch pvc. We had 40 mph wind last year and they held up.

I use 3 10 foot sections of pvc per arch. Each End Arch section is connected with a T connector. Inside arches are  fitted with a 4 way connector. So each arch has a cross member. I use a small screw to hold the pipe in each connector.

I tried the rebar the first year and wasn't happy. What I found worked better was using a 1 1/2 piece of pvc. Cut one end so it is spiked and drive end into ground. Than just slip your 1 inch piece in. I finished them by spraying with red paint for a candy cane type of look.

Are you using the thicker wall sch 40 stuff, or the thinner  sch 80?

 

Also, how are your lights wrapped?  I would have thought by the time you completely covered the pipe in a mass of wrapped lights you wouldnt be able to see enough pipe to know if it was strip painted red or not.

 

 

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I use the C9 pix-a-bulb/ brilliant bulb smart pixels and control them with a Falcon 4. I prefer the gray electrical pvc pipe as it is darker in color so hides easier in the dark and I just electrical tape the smart pixels along the outside curve of the arch. I also use the C9 pixels for my yard perimeter and my roof so I have a ton of them.

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2 hours ago, Mr. P said:

I use the C9 pix-a-bulb/ brilliant bulb smart pixels and control them with a Falcon 4. I prefer the gray electrical pvc pipe as it is darker in color so hides easier in the dark and I just electrical tape the smart pixels along the outside curve of the arch. I also use the C9 pixels for my yard perimeter and my roof so I have a ton of them.

Thanks,

if youre using grey conduit, how do you link the pieces together?  I as gonna use thread couplings so they can thread in for the season and thread apart for storage.  the grey stuff, not sure you can get thread fittings can you?  I'm just familiar with the grey that has a larger end diameter like a hub, and slides over the next piece.

I'm just using plain ole simple LED strings, so was thinking if 1" would be strong enough (still having trouble imagining bending 1.5" diameter, seems too stiff), then I'd slip 1.5" pieces over it with the lights in prewrapped sections.  This way when I disassemble, I end up with just plain PVC sticks I can store under my porch on hooks, and the light sections being about 18" long, I can basically stacked them, still wrapped, all in a box or two.  would be looking at a total of 32  18" long wrapped pipes. so a couple good size boxes or storage bins.  

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On gray electrical pvc one end is already flared like a built in coupler like you described. No need to glue or screw just push them together and pull them apart at the end of the season for storage.

Also no need for supports or guide ropes as the arches will stay up even in storms.

Edited by Mr. P
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similar to your proposal.   These are free standing 1 inch PVC.   I use a combination of rebar that i drive in the ground and a 3/4 conduit sleeve which fits nicely inside and gives a bit more stability.   They are also free standing so I can move off the driveway if needed.  The driveway for reference is just over 12 feet, and you can see, they are spaced out a bit on each side.  I wrapped them in red duct tape which gives a candy cane appearance. 

Also, for putting together, you can make an insert for the joint which i screw in place, but you can also just use a screw in the middle to keep it from slipping inside.  Once up, friction holds it in place.

 

 

Edited by TexasLights
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1 hour ago, TexasLights said:

similar to your proposal.   These are free standing 1 inch PVC.   I use a combination of rebar that i drive in the ground and a 3/4 conduit sleeve which fits nicely inside and gives a bit more stability.   They are also free standing so I can move off the driveway if needed.  The driveway for reference is just over 12 feet, and you can see, they are spaced out a bit on each side.  I wrapped them in red duct tape which gives a candy cane appearance. 

Also, for putting together, you can make an insert for the joint which i screw in place, but you can also just use a screw in the middle to keep it from slipping inside.  Once up, friction holds it in place.

 

 

Yes, these look great.  at the 1" looks strong a nicely hooped up high.

Are those pixels or RGB, or just multiple channels wrapped?

Did you just wrap the strongs around the PVC or sleeve over it?

 

Also, how long is the overall arch to cover your 12 ft driveway?  I'm guessing since they are so tall, 25ft?

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These arches are just wrapped with LED lights (7 total channels).   I change them up each year a bit.  If you watch last year's video, the swag are synched with the multi-colors rather than the red/greens.    Wrapping them is actually the longest part but I like the effect and people walk through them and see from both sides.    They are three 10 foot lengths so 30 feet total.    Using a standard glue union works to hold them but it creates a weak point.  So as they break, I started adding the conduit and putting a bolt through at the joints so they can actually come apart if I want although I have room to store them so they stay together all year.

A funny story about these is that I was in Zurich one year just before Christmas and they had streets where covered with stings of lights and I went  "I want that".   But I came back and found out that even though I had trees, they weren't placed at points I could do anything.  At the same time, my daughter was dating a guy with a lifted truck (this is Texas you know) and so they had to be high enough he could get in the driveway and these arches were born.   

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10 hours ago, TexasLights said:

These arches are just wrapped with LED lights (7 total channels).   I change them up each year a bit.  If you watch last year's video, the swag are synched with the multi-colors rather than the red/greens.    Wrapping them is actually the longest part but I like the effect and people walk through them and see from both sides.    They are three 10 foot lengths so 30 feet total.    Using a standard glue union works to hold them but it creates a weak point.  So as they break, I started adding the conduit and putting a bolt through at the joints so they can actually come apart if I want although I have room to store them so they stay together all year.

A funny story about these is that I was in Zurich one year just before Christmas and they had streets where covered with stings of lights and I went  "I want that".   But I came back and found out that even though I had trees, they weren't placed at points I could do anything.  At the same time, my daughter was dating a guy with a lifted truck (this is Texas you know) and so they had to be high enough he could get in the driveway and these arches were born.   

Very cool.   I like em.     Yea, I figured the joints could snap.   Glad to see 1 " conduit is plenty strong.  is it schd 40 ior 80?

Im thinking thread fittings so I can fit them tight but separate after, and actually wrapping the lights on 1.5" conduit, and at say a 24ft span of lights, x 8 channels (mine will be sequenced so each archc an run back and forth), that means 3ft per channel.   So 2x 1.5ft pieces would be 1 channel.   I'd slide them onto the big hoop before I set it on the ground steak down point.   At the end of the season, I slide them off, and fold the 2 pieces side by side 1.5ft long, and pile them into a box.  Conduits separate to 10 ft sections and go under my back porch on hangers  (its 6 ft off the ground so i can walk under there and use it for my trailer and powerwheels storage area for the kids.

This way my lights arent actually exposed to weather all year, just the long conduit.   I thought about painting red strips, but I think the pipe will be so full of lights and light wire that you wont see any pipe when its done.  I'm thinking prob 100 LED bulbs per channel, maybe 200.  

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schedule 40 

I think the threaded fittings will be more prone to failure but you can try.  Like i said, you can reinforce them by just putting a short piece of conduit there (with a screw or rubber bands to stop from sliding into the pipe).     

If i understand you light attachment, it might work but I would be worried of adding too much weight.  

the red duct tape was easy to do and makes them look better in the day.  I do have the occasional day time drive by so my display is intended to look good all of the time.   But it will fade if outside. 

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On 9/19/2021 at 1:18 PM, cdlouke said:

I have five arches across my driveway made of 1 inch pvc. We had 40 mph wind last year and they held up.

I use 3 10 foot sections of pvc per arch. Each End Arch section is connected with a T connector. Inside arches are  fitted with a 4 way connector. So each arch has a cross member. I use a small screw to hold the pipe in each connector.

I tried the rebar the first year and wasn't happy. What I found worked better was using a 1 1/2 piece of pvc. Cut one end so it is spiked and drive end into ground. Than just slip your 1 inch piece in. I finished them by spraying with red paint for a candy cane type of look.

Do you a picture of your arch setup? I'd really like to see how you did the t-connector and 4-way.

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ddgrant, this is the only pic I could find. Sorry it is not very good.  It does show the cross member on the left side.  There is an identical one on the right side. The project was done with schedule 40 pvc.  It is 30 foot in length and high enough that I can park a full size p/u underneath in the day time. Square pixels were used and zip tied into place 

If you need more support you could always cut the outside pieces at 5 foot and additional place cross members 

Arches.jpg

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  • 1 month later...

So folks, I finished building my mini trees, and am now about to start these giant arches.

 

I stopped at Lowes yesterday to check out their PVC.

1" white PVC was only available in sched 80 which might be too thin.  I'm not sure.

I found 1 1/2" slips right over it and I think will allow enough curve on the inside piece. However, cant use any couplers as 1 1/2" wont slide over a coupler.   So I'd have to just use 3/4" small  pieces INSIDE the connection point of the 1" conduit.  This is tough due to having to run a screw through it.

Alternate idea.  Use 3 segment of 1".  first piece at 9ft, 3rd 9 ft,  and middle part around 6 ft.   I use the couplers, and never slide the 1 1/2" conduit over a coupler.  So 3 channels on the left, 3 on the right, and 2 in the center all around the couplers.   Not sure 24ft is enough length for an arch to cros my driveway at about 17ft across the ground.

Could scale up to 10ft, 10ft, and 6.6ft and each channel becomes 40" instead of 36".   That yields 26.6ft.   

Run screws through at the couplers so they can be removed.

I'm debating looking for Sched 40 hoping that would add strength against splitting at the screw points, but the sched 80 prob definately flexs better.

For the 11 1/2" slip overs, thinking of making each channel 3 segments so the inside conduit can easily bend, so each 40" channel would be 3 x 13.3" conduit pieces.    I'll hot glue the start and end of the light string to the pvc so it'll stay on.    This is gonna turn into a lot of work I suspect to build 2 arches, but we shall see.  

Any other thoughts or suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

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Schedule 80 is usually Grey and very stiff.

Schedule 40 is normal for constant preasure use, white and can be shaped with careful heating.

Stay clear of Schedule 125 (it is really thin), used for sprinkler grids. Easy to crack 😭

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Update if anyone is following.   I got some sched 40 PVC.   Seems to be some confusion on the gauge of pipe.  Sched 40 at 1" is rated at 440 PSI.     Sched 80 is thinner and rated at 200 PSI.    The higher the gauge the thinner the PVC pipe.

 

I bought 40.   I did a 30ft hoop with 2 straight couplers.  It was just too high.   The bottom ground points were at about 16-17 ft apart. 

I took and cut the middle section to 6'6"  ( this will work for 3 channels left, 3 right, and 2 middle at 3'3" each.

I changed the straight couplers to 45 degrees,  It looked weird.

 

Took it back down, changed back to the straight couplers and it looked better.

 

For lights, I got some 1 1/2" PVC (also sched 40 cause thats all they had but thinner would be better).

I cut 2 pieces 19.5" each

I wrapped a set of 100 LEDs,  I held the wire at the end, and hot glued it on.  Wrapped 50 LEDs to the other end, and hot glued there.  Then went to the second piece and  hot glued the start and thens wrapped the 50 and hot glued the end.

 

I slid that onto the top section of my  1".   For the top curve its ok, but for the sides, the 10.5" piece is too long to allow the 1" to curve enough.

So, I'll do the same for the other top channel, but for the sides I'm gonna do 3 sections of 1 1/2" per channel(per 100 LEDs), so they will be 13" each.  That should allow a little more curving of the 1".

I think this is gonna work well.  I got 2 4 ft sticks of 3/8" rebar that I'll drive about 18" dn, and leave 30" out to slide the 1" onto.  I'll then stake it down as needed with some string.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Rhizzlebop said:

Update if anyone is following.   I got some sched 40 PVC.   Seems to be some confusion on the gauge of pipe.  Sched 40 at 1" is rated at 440 PSI.     Sched 80 is thinner and rated at 200 PSI.    The higher the gauge the thinner the PVC pipe.

I think you're the one who is confused.  Schedule 80 is far thicker than schedule 40.  Maybe you're thinking of CL-125 (short for Class 125) which is quite thin.  Different scale.

 

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This might help

PVC Pipe Sizes Chart

PVC Pipe sizes are different than the size the pipe is called. For example, a 1 inch PVC Pipe is actually 1.315 inches in outside diameter, and 1.029 inches in inside diameter. Fittings follow this same pattern, a 1" fitting has a 1.315 inch opening to accept a 1 inch pipe, which actually measures 1.315 inches in diameter. The opening in the fitting and the size of the pipe are exactly the same size; this is called an "interference fit" and the two parts are intended to be "welded" together using PVC glue, which is really a solvent that melts the two parts together.

PVC PipeE Sizes

Schedule 40 Dimensions

Nom. Pipe
Size (in)
O.D. Average
I.D.
Min. Wall Nom.
Wt./Ft.
Max. W.P.
PSI*
1/8" 0.405 0.249 0.068 0.051 810
1/4" 0.540 0.344 0.088 0.086 780
3/8" 0.675 0.473 0.091 0.115 620
1/2" 0.840 0.602 0.109 0.170 600
3/4" 1.050 0.804 0.113 0.226 480
1" 1.315 1.029 0.133 0.333 450
1-1/4" 1.660 1.360 0.140 0.450 370
1-1/2" 1.900 1.590 0.145 0.537 330
2" 2.375 2.047 0.154 0.720 280
2-1/2" 2.875 2.445 0.203 1.136 300
3" 3.500 3.042 0.216 1.488 260
3-1/2" 4.000 3.521 0.226 1.789 240
4" 4.500 3.998 0.237 2.118 220
5" 5.563 5.016 0.258 2.874 190
6" 6.625 6.031 0.280 3.733 180
8" 8.625 7.942 0.322 5.619 160
10" 10.750 9.976 0.365 7.966 140
12" 12.750 11.889 0.406 10.534 130


Schedule 80 Dimensions

Nom. Pipe
Size (in)
O.D. Average
I.D.
Min. Wall Nom.
Wt./Ft.
Max. W.P.
PSI*
1/8" .405 .195 0.095 0.063 1230
1/4" .540 .282 0.119 0.105 1130
3/8" .675 .403 0.126 0.146 920
1/2" .840 .526 0.147 0.213 850
3/4" 1.050 .722 0.154 0.289 690
1" 1.315 .936 0.179 0.424 630
1-1/4" 1.660 1.255 0.191 0.586 520
1-1/2" 1.900 1.476 0.200 0.711 470
2" 2.375 1.913 0.218 0.984 400
2-1/2" 2.875 2.290 0.276 1.500 420
3" 3.500 2.864 0.300 2.010 370
3-1/2" 4.000 3.326 0.318 2.452 350
4" 4.500 3.786 0.337 2.938 320
5" 5.563 4.768 0.375 4.078 290
6" 6.625 5.709 0.432 5.610 280
8" 8.625 7.565 0.500 8.522 250
10" 10.750 9.493 0.593 12.635 230
12" 12.750 11.294 0.687 17.384 230

*Max. Water Pressure at 68 degrees F, Higher temperatures lower the pressure rating.

 
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How many lights should I use for each one foot channel on my arches?  First time doing them and I want to order the right amount of lights. 

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15 minutes ago, Artstaw said:

How many lights should I use for each one foot channel on my arches?  First time doing them and I want to order the right amount of lights. 

What type of lights? AC, dumb or smart.

Most list Lighted Length (first to last bulb). Be aware that AC mini-light strings can not be easily cut (shortened) as each bulb drops a portion of 120V.

Smart or Dumb RGB can be cut (at marks for ribbons), but you will need soldering skills for the remnants (💡 keep some for repairs)

Another metric is bulb spacing . LOR bullets are 6" spacing, I happen to use 4" spacing.

Another pay attention is total Amps per port  and run. You might need to Power inject (dumb,but NTE channel limits or smart)

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10 minutes ago, TheDucks said:

What type of lights? AC, dumb or smart.

Most list Lighted Length (first to last bulb). Be aware that AC mini-light strings can not be easily cut (shortened) as each bulb drops a portion of 120V.

Smart or Dumb RGB can be cut (at marks for ribbons), but you will need soldering skills for the remnants (💡 keep some for repairs)

Another metric is bulb spacing . LOR bullets are 6" spacing, I happen to use 4" spacing.

Another pay attention is total Amps per port  and run. You might need to Power inject (dumb,but NTE channel limits or smart)

Just regular LED mini lights

Just now, Artstaw said:

Just regular LED mini lights

just saw something where someone used 200 lights per 1 foot channel. wow, that seems like a lot. 

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