Christmas Lighting Questions

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by SPEEDSKI, Nov 29, 2010.


    SPEEDSKI LawnSite Member
    from TN
    Messages: 67

    I just joined up and have found this site to be pretty helpful. Here is a little backround on my company.

    I have been installing Landscape Lighting and Irrigation in Nashville TN since 1998. We have a customer list of around 2000 residentials and commercials.

    Here is where I need your help, I had a couple builders, HOA's and residentials ask us to do some Christmas lighting and in the past we wanted no part of it since we always ran hard until Christmas doing blow-outs. With the economy and some interest from Clients, we sent out a mass email for Christmas lighting and we have gotten a huge response.

    We have done 10 installations already and I don't have time to do all the estimates. We have the man power, but since we are new to the Christmas lights, I have some questions for you guys.

    My basic take on everything is most of you are using incondescant C-9's for the fascia's and ridge lines. You offer the LED's, but not too many takers yet?

    So far, the only way to do the custom work has been the C-9 incans since it can be spliced, dead ended etc. What are you guys doing when you to use multiple outlets? X10? or do you just use timers and trying and sync them as best you can? Is it something you worry about? Are you installing plugs into flood light sockets?

    I am just trying to get an idea of how you guys are designing the system from a power stand point. Do you try and have all the roof on certain outlets, do you try and do windows with windows, shrubs with shrubs etc? My guys are great electricians, we just don't know if we are over thinking some of this since it is seasonal and temprorary?

    Any help is very appreciated. Thank you in advance for your suggestions!!
  2. addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 569


    First, welcome abouard, great decision to start doing lights, your guys will be busy with take downs in January and hopefully things will really do well for you and it will take you into February as well.

    With the c-9's max recommended by any manufacturer is 100 LF per plug, that is alot of roof line. I split them off, obviously custom cut to what I need. I have yet to run into any issues with feeding to much from one outlet and tripping breaker and such.

    Dave has a ton of posts on here with discussions on running not to trip breakers and such as well as just about anything else you can run into. This forum is just awesome, everyone on here is friendly as can be, and even more helpful!

    If you figure 100 lf times your wattage, then convert to amps, you will be fine. Depending on what you are using for c-9's I know they come in 7 and 10 watts.

    Mini lights 100 ct set, the max is 5 that is recommended to run together, these are fused sets as well, so ends up trying to compensate for the fuses in set #1.

    As for using flood sockets, I would guess that would be according to what the tap on your transformer is rated at. I haven;t done much landscape lighting since I got out of school, so am a bit rusty on it, but that would be my thought. If you are using LED as you are well aware I am sure, you can go forever - maybe not forever, but a lot further than incan.

    I am sure Dave will pop in when he has a moment, he is a wealth of info and knowledge as is HotRod and TurfHokie. All three of these guys have helped me out with thoughts, suggestions, encouragement, tips and tricks etc.

    Great luck to you and welcome aboard!!
  3. Birchwood

    Birchwood LawnSite Member
    Messages: 218

    We use c-7's with a 7 watt bulb. It allows us to put 200 ln ft on one outlet, the average home that is pretty good for one timer, so everything comes on at once, bushes and trees on another timer or two.

    SPEEDSKI LawnSite Member
    from TN
    Messages: 67

    Thanks for all the help, if you had to run multiple outlets, how would you set up the timers? We have one with 345ft. of C-9's to do later this week.

  5. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    my amp meter on 140 c9's using 7 watt 130v bulbs puts it at 837 watts, or roughly just below 7 amps, which is what most spt-1 cord is rated it. using 120v bulbs should be a maximum of 120 bulbs. but the outlet feed voltage can vary the amps that is actually running through the cord. 110 feed puts less amps than 125 volts, and I have seen it as high as 128. when we install dedicated 20 amp outlets and 20 amp breakers on outdoor a/c units, I feel comfortable putting 15-16 amps on them, which adds up to roughly 300 130v bulbs max on one outlet. using 2 8.3 amp timers can accomplish this. anything over 16 amps on one 20 amp outlet ( they have the "t" on one side of the outlet) or one 20 amp breaker can pop the breaker.

    bear in mind you can set a vampire plug in the middle of spt1 cord and the power can then go both directions, but those plugs tend to be rated at 10 amps max. there is nicer c-9 and c-7 cord out there for longer runs, but even the best cord is limited to around 300 bulbs, and you need to really watch your cord rating once you get over 9 amps or so. those 16 guage extension cords start heating up over 10 amps.

    on different outlets/breakers, making all timers come on at the same time requires digital timers as opposed to photocell, and even with digital you are looking at a 2 minute difference over the season. but on larger jobs, if you are installing a double outlet on a/c units and an electrician is doing it anyway, for 59 more bucks home depot has a digital 240v timer ( double pole single throw) that is rated for outside and really is not much more than buying 2 digital 15 amp timers. for my money it is the way to go and makes you look more professional.

    using an extension and a light bulb outlet adapter, you can load a spotlight bulb socket with about 300 wattsmax or 2.5 amps. while the temptation to load up those with 100 or so bulbs may be great, even good heavy duty sockets just cannot handle the heat load of that much electricity going through the bulb threads. running a wreath is fine, but even 50 bulbs overloads a bulb socket.

    as far as leds, we are still testing led retofits from year to year and they are looking much better last year and this year as opposed to the ones from 2 years ago and earlier. those quite simply were crap. the newest 5 diode led c-9 and 8 diode led s-11 are pretty nice, seem much more reliable, and bright from most angles now. but using led's on premade cords for rooflines seems like a nightmare to me.

    SPEEDSKI LawnSite Member
    from TN
    Messages: 67

    Thanks to everyone, this is fantastic information and I really appreciate it.
  7. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    Standard C9 spt1 cord with LED retro fits bulbs. We only ever use two outlets if it makes running cords easier. Then we set the timers as close as we can and a little early.

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