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Stick with mini-lights or buy LED?


sjmiller
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I had approx 5,000 mini-lights in my display last year, I didn't connect up about 1,000 more mini-lights because I started blowing fuses on my 6 channel controller.

I'm starting out with 32 channels of LOR for 2009 and in addition to hooking up all of my mini-lights I want to add more lights.

I've been searchng the christmas light sales on-line - what is a canopy light that makes it so cheap? A 31' string @6" spacing (60 lights?) for $1.50 (action lighting)? Would this bulb be good for general display purposes?

Then I see that there are 70 light LED strings (24' @4" spacing) for $10.50, or 100 light mini-lights (51' @6" spacing) for $9.95 (Christmas Lights Etc)...

Is the trend to migrate to LED for displays - and are there suppliers that stand out in the quality of their product?

Thanks in advance

SJ

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I started my transition to LED when I hit the limit of my house power. I only have a 150 amp panel. To up the panel to 200 and add a subpanel was going to cost $1500 to $1800. My only large purchase was with CDI. Unfortunately, they changed manu and had real trouble with the leds. CDI is switching back to a prior manu that has been reported as having very high quality lights. CDI is replacing last year's order and I will give them another try.

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iresq wrote:

I started my transition to LED when I hit the limit of my house power. I only have a 150 amp panel. To up the panel to 200 and add a subpanel was going to cost $1500 to $1800. My only large purchase was with CDI. Unfortunately, they changed manu and had real trouble with the leds. CDI is switching back to a prior manu that has been reported as having very high quality lights. CDI is replacing last year's order and I will give them another try.

Mine is the same reason other than I have a 125 amp panel. I was pretty much maxed out at the 15,000 or so incandescent, and I got tired of having to turn the hot tub off for DEC. I got a lot of the walmart 5mm leds after Christmas and am getting a bunch from Travis at led holiday lighting.

Roman
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First of all, 5000 minis would be too much on a 15 amp breaker. Figure about 1/3 amp per 100 mini lights. If all 5000 were on, that's over 16 amps. That's assuming they are the only thing on the circuit.

When you go to sequenced lighting, you catch a little break here since you rarely have everything on at once. However, if you plan on expanding your display over the years, you need to look into adding circuits. A good thing to do early on is map out the circuits in your house to deterime which outlets/loads are on each circuit.

As someone else noted, that is where there is a hidden savings in using LED's. It costs money to add circuits. If you can afford the additional cost, I would suggest starting to transition to LED's. That's what I am doing (although I still can't completely refrain from buying regular minis when I see the after Christmas sale prices).

LED Holiday Lighting and Creative Displays are the two most often mentioned web sites for buying LEDs. And both have sales going on right now. Sign up for the www.planetchristmas.com forums to find out more about these sales.

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I think you can't go wrong with travis or paul ... and the 2009 pre-order sales ...

But its really a matter of IF you can afford to go with all LED(s).

To me, I just can't quite afford them yet. The minis are just
so cheap and east to get annually at clearance sales, I can't justify the LED(s).
I'm kind of viewing a lot of these mini lights as expendable over time ... they
don't last forever, but are so cheap to replace its not a big deal.

My electrical bill was an additional $40 in December, but that wouldn't
buy me many LEDs.

If my power situation drove me to LED(s), then that might equal out the
cost differential.

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I have stated to change over from 20,000 mini's to all LED i figure about 3 years to get the hole house done I just orederd 6 cases from paul and all ready have 3 from last year next year I will probally get 6 more from paul and so on and so on till I get all the LED lights I need



Dale L

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The summary of these responses left me a bit confused. I know the electrical part of the equation - and have 100 amps of dedicated power for lightng - not an issue. More then enough to power 32 channels of LOR.

My question was -

1) what are canopy lights and why are they so cheap?

2) mini light or canopy

3) migrate to LED

4) what s a good price for mini & LED lights on sale?

SJ

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The summary of these responses left me a bit confused. I know the electrical part of the equation - and have 100 amps of dedicated power for lightng - not an issue. More then enough to power 32 channels of LOR.

My question was -

1) what are canopy lights and why are they so cheap?

2) mini light or canopy

3) migrate to LED

4) what s a good price for mini & LED lights on sale?

SJ

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sjmiller wrote:

The summary of these responses left me a bit confused. I know the electrical part of the equation - and have 100 amps of dedicated power for lightng - not an issue. More then enough to power 32 channels of LOR.

My question was -

1) what are canopy lights and why are they so cheap? I belive they're ones to go inside your patio umbrella

2) mini light or canopy same thing just different string length

3) migrate to LED I have

4) what s a good price for mini & LED lights on sale? after year sale 90 cents a box. If you want LED lights best way is the pre sales going on right now in the LED forum

SJ
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Here's another:

http://www.synchronizedchristmaslights.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=6

Creative Displays pre-order closes out this Friday, the 13th.
LED Holiday Lighting's closes on 3/15.
Some other vendors are having sales, you just have to do some searching through the vendor lists at the forums.

I've purchased from both of these guys, and their customer service is excellent.

edit: iresq beat me to the PC link.

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Let's look at the difference between canopy and regular mini lights. Most mini lights are 3"-4" spacing and usually run 24-25 feet. The canopy lights have more spacing and thus, I believe, fewer lights. The real issue here is what are you going to do with them? If you are going to put them in your trees then the canopy would be just fine. If you are going to use them on wireframes or coro projects you want the standard minis.

Now for your question concerning switching to LED lights from mini lights. With only 5,000 in your current display you can make the transition easily. If I were you and your budget allows I would make future additions LED lights and then switch over your current lights as needed.

I did a little formula last year when the local paper asked me about LED lights. Given my current light count, if I replaced them all it would cost me well over $20,000.00 and take 15 years to break even on the power consumption if I did not have to replace any strings during that time. The other factor is that some LED lights do not dim properly and some go bad when you attempt to dim them after a certain period of time. Some C9 and C7 bulbs do not dim and you would experience failure with them.

I do not have a power problem right now so will not switch over. However, I will use some LED lights this year. That was mostly due to the fact I bought them real cheap and they seem to dim properly.

If I were you would call Paul at Creative Displays and they will help you with any question you may have.

Hope this helps.

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DanCampbell wrote:

ledlighting wrote:
Let me know if there are any questions.

Not to belabor the point, but looking at this page, the extended time (3/31) applies to the retro bulbs only, not the stringers, right?

http://www.ledholidaylighting.com/LED-Retro-Fade-Bulbs---2009-Pre-Order.aspx

Hey don't harass Travis. It's takes him a few day er I mean weeks to update his website.

Just kidding Travis. Glad it has been extended.

Roman
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One more consideration in the LED or Mini decision is bulb price. Locally, LEDs sold out of most all stores for full retail in early December. Pallets of Minis were available at our Wally well into January for 70% off. The point is that retailers aren't going to miss that one 2 or 3 years in a row. The Led price will come way down in the next couple years making the decision to hold off more worth while. Also, LEDs purchased now will depreciate in value.

That said, I'm a newbie starting off all LED (10,000 lights 32 Ch). I like the colors better as well as the fact that I can run ten times the bulbs using less power.



Curtis

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Another thing to consider is that the color on regular minis fade after a couple of years whereas the LED's stay true longer. Unfortunately, with the amount of lights I have I can't afford to make the transition to LED's either:(.

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Thanks all! The inputs gave me something to ponder, I think I will stick with mini-lights for now - more bang for the buck. When the price point of the LED strings starts dropping then I will buy them for expansion and replacement.

To be honest, having made the decision to go with 32 channels of LOR in 2009 - I entered a massive learning curve that has taken me by surprise. Ligts, light types, power calculations, controllers, controller channels, power distribution, music sequencing, animation sequences, light placement, color usage.... geez - this would cause brain overload if I wasn't having so much fun with it all!

SJ

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