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Electrician Coming Tomorrow, What Should I Ask?


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I have my electrician coming tomorrow for an unrelated task. I plan on purchasing a few LOR controllers in the coming months and was wondering what questions I should be asking. I think I'll have my controllers scattered around the yard in various locations. Also, I plan to be using LED's for most of my lights.

Will something be able to be done with my central air since it's not used in winter?

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George Simmons

I'd calculate how much power you'll need based on the number of lights you're anticipating using (and then I'd double that figure) and where in the yard you'll need it. If you're going with mostly LED's, you might be pleasantly surprised at how many controllers you can power from just a couple of 15 or 20 amp circuits.

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Since you are going to be running LEDs you will mostly likely you will be under 20 amps easily so you will be able to run each side from one circuit. What you need to figure out is how many controllers you plan to run and figure for expansion for the future. So if you are going to run lets say 5 controllers and they are all LEDs you could probably get away with 4 controllers on 1 20 amp circuit. So you would need 3 extra circuits with 3 2 way gang box's with two outlets in each sharing the same circuit. That will give you 6 outlets with 3 circuits. Well all depends on your controllers loads if you can do this or not. If your controller loads add up to more then you might need to have each outlet on it's own circuit for each controller. Since you are running all LEDs you might can get away with the first option though.

If you have an idea then go to Quartzhill Christmas and download there controller load calculator. The you can configure your controller load with your lights and it will tell you just how much you are going to have on each controller and it will better map what you will need power wise and how you can set it up.

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OK, I just had the electrician here and he said I've got plenty of room on my panel to give each controller it's own breaker. I just may do that instead because buying all those led's is going to be pricey. Not only that, but regular lights are easier to find on sale. We'll see. He said he'll help out pricewise since I can help with things.

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Keep in mind that if you go incandescent over LED what you plan to do you might not be able to because it will increase your load. So if you increase your load you might need had extra circuits which you might not have room for.

My suggestion is configure your controllers and load with both LEDs and incandescents with the Quartzhill spreadsheet so you can see the difference and exactly what your load will be. Not knowing how much room you have to play with it is hard to say if you will be able to do what you want to do or not by not using LEDs.

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No sweat. I have plenty of room on my panel. He said I would have no problem running a dedicated line for each controller if that's what I wanted to do.

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How much room do you have and how many controllers do you plan on using?

Also any plans for expansion in the future? If so I would atleast consider leaving two slots open for a double pole so you can connect a sub panel if you need to in the future to accommodate your expansion. it is also a good rule of thumb to not load all your slots up. Even though you can, it is not a good idea. That is why on some panels they say you can't use this or that slot to help you from overloading a panel. The 80% rule is in effect even on mains.

Like I said, I don't know how much room you have, but one thing to keep in mind that if you have lets say one side pull 13 amps, and the other side 13 amps, that is 26 amps right there. You would need two separate circuits for one controller. Where if you went with LEDs you could do both sides on one circuit because I am sure both would be under 20 amps.

Yes the controllers can handle 15 amps per side, and 30 amps total. But what is often overlooked is mostly likely your circuit is 20 amps. So if you maxed your contollers which I wouldn't do more then 13 amps a side, you would be going over that 20 amp threshold, meaning what I mentioned above, you would need 2 circuits of 20 amps. I say 20 instead of 15 because in the future if you scale back or go to LED the 20 can come in more handy.

Just some food for thought to think about since incandescent draw a lot and once you start adding up mini trees, arches, mega trees, that all can add up rather quickly in comparison to LEDS, especially if you like to have a lot of control over the action.

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If your would be using LEDs there is nothing saying you can ONLY run one controller per circuit. I have about 50% LED and I have 5 controllers that are all running LED on one circuit. My calculations are that I am only pulling a max of about 5 amps for the 5 controllers. That 5 amps represents approximately 4000 lights.

So the bottom line is you HAVE to know your loads. CALCULATE, CALCULATE, CALCULATE.

Chuck

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