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Christmas lighting

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    Christmas lighting

    Only 3 months and it is time to setup our Christmas stuff. I just moved into a new house, and wanted to know how you guys setup the lights (hardware and software). I have a raised ranch, and do not want to have my xmas lights underneath the roof up all year, so I was wondering if there are any tricks? I was considering mounting the lights on several long bars/rods and have a few eyeshaped hooks in the sofit so I can raise the bar/rod with some nylon thread against the sofit and remove it once Xmas is over. Are there any better ideas?

    How do you control the lighting with Homeseer, do you run wires into the garage or something or just use your appliance module outside? This is my first year that I am going to have a "HA" "HA" "HA" merry xmas [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]
    HSPRO 2.4 (ESXi 4.1) | my.Alert NEW | my.Trigger | HSTouch | ACRF2 | UltraM1G | BLWeather | BLLan | Rover
    (aka xplosiv)
    Do You Cocoon? Home Automation News, Tutorials, Reviews, Forums & Chat

    I can attest to using appliance modules outside. I do this for the Christmas season only. I just put the module in a sandwich bag and jab it into the outlet through the bag. I leave the bottom of the bag open to allow the extension cord access and allow any condensation to evaporate but not let rain/snow in.


      I also used my appliance modules outside last year. Had them plugged into a power strip with a large plastic bag around the power strip. Power strip was partially away from rain, halfway sticking under the deck.

      Did not have a single problem. However, you might want to make sure the power strip you use does NOT have surge suppression.

      Was using HomeSeer to control this last year. nothing fancy, just time based. Might have the Ocelot and CMAX itself control things this year with some input from HomeSeer (ie: motion sensors, etc). No reason for using the Ocelot other than HS other than it will help me become more proficient with it.



        I don't have any tricks for hanging the lights but, for controlling them I've spent the last 7 years growing and expanding the control.
        I take solid strings of C9 lights and alternate them R-G-B-Y so that there are 4 sets of lights together all along the front of the house. I also use solid colored net lights on all the bushes and solid mini lights on all the trees. The idea here is to plug them all into lamp modules wrapped in plastic bags (protects from weather). Each color gets it's own unit code R-1, G-2...etc so I can have any combination of them on at one time (house can be all red, all green, blue, yellow or red & green etc). All strings are then plugged into X10 recepticles for possitive on / off control. I then have a timer set so that every 30 seconds or so the colors change - one color fades up and then another fades down. With all the possible combinations it takes around 8 minutes to cycle through them all. Santa and his reindeer stay on all the time.

        Needless to say it draws alot of attention, people are always stopping by to ask about it and saying things like "It's great! every time I drive by it's different!" Only person not totally thrilled is the neighbor across the street (has a tough time getting in and out of his driveway cause of all the cars) [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_redface.gif[/img]
        I do the same thing with the Christmas tree inside and family and guests sit and watch it for hours!
        I also have various electronic decorations throughout the house that go on for when we are home and off when we leave/ go to bed (of course all controlled via HS). Candles in every window that go on at dusk and off at dawn.
        The outside lights go on at dusk and off at midnight, on at 5am and off at sunrise. Unless of course it's Christmas Eve, in which case they stay on all night and all day Christmas Day!
        Last count I had around 8000 lights in total (and growing!), but since they are not all on at once, it's not ovrwhelming. Needless to say it has taken a while to coordinate and set up all of the lighting, not to mention installing extra electrical service to handle it all, but it's worth it!!
        Sorry for the long post but as you can tell I'm a Christmas decorating fanatic and it's a lot of fun! Also, makes the wife forget / forgive all the little bumps in the HA road through the rest of the year [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]



          holy !$% thutchins lol

          some good ideas here, and I guess I will be using appliance modules with powerstrips.

          Tom, you mention your lights dim to on when it starts getting dark? I do the same thing with my livingroom light (increases 20% every few minutes), but how do you get around the fact that it goes all the way to 100% first before you can dim it? I would think that would be annoying (and would love to get around that problem myself).

          HSPRO 2.4 (ESXi 4.1) | my.Alert NEW | my.Trigger | HSTouch | ACRF2 | UltraM1G | BLWeather | BLLan | Rover
          (aka xplosiv)
          Do You Cocoon? Home Automation News, Tutorials, Reviews, Forums & Chat


            One way to implement a longer lasting x10 enabled plug is to exchange the outside plugs with x10 wall receptacles. I have x10 enabled all 5 outdoor plugs that are located under the little hoods that cover exposed plugs.

            Heres the covers I use:

            Here's the plugs I use:

            ...One Nation Under GOD, Indivisible, With Liberty And Justice For All.


              How about some spooky stuff?

              Sound effects triggered by outside motion sensors, etc. Colored lights or image projections on walls, in trees...

              Anybody tackling that?


                thutchins... That sounds VERY cool. I may experiment with something along that line (but I doubt I'll ever get quite as elaborate).

                xplosiv ... if you want to run lights around the facia of your house, these little clips work great:


                I know Wal Mart sells them if you have one in your area. They simply clip onto the lower edge of your shingles (you do have asphalt shingles, I assume) and then the wire for the lights hooks into the clip. Last year was the first time I used them and I was very pleased. I did have to climb a ladder to put them up but I didn't need a ladder to take them down. All I had to do was pull gently on one end of the string and the lights and clips pulled off the shingles very easily. I just walked along pulling the lights down a few feet at a time. Very easy and quick.

                Regarding control, I suppose that will depend on how your house is wired. I built my house about two years ago and I had the electrician install electrical outlets in the soffit at every corner. I have switches inside that control those outlets. This eliminates the need for extension cords ... the lights just plug in right under the soffet.

                Last year I just manually turned the switches on and off. This year I'm going to automate it by either replacing the switches with X-10 switches or replacing the outlets with X-10 outlets. I may have to replace the outlets because I haven't found an X-10 switch that will handle a 20 amp circuit. I don't think my lights will exceed 20 amps but it makes me nervous to have a switch rated less than the circuit breaker.


                  I have a strange way of controlling my outdoor lights. I have drilled 1/4 inch holes in various basement window sills that will allow for an outdoor extension cord to fit through after you cut the plug off. Once routed inside, I reconnect the plug using wire nuts and electrical tape and plug it into a basement outlet with a lamp module.

                  That keeps the modules inside and I simply use the removable weatherizing caulk to plug the holes when I take down the lights.

                  As for the upper lights, When we rehabbed the upstairs and crawlspace, I sent some 3/4 inch PVC conduit outside through holes I drilled from the crawlspace out in each of the dormer and gables and secured it against some 2X4 bridging I installed. Then I took some braided stainless steel tether line and a rubber stopper to keep the hole plugged when not in use.
                  At Christmas, I go up to the attic and pop out the stopper with a wood dowel (the stopper hangs a few inches outside because of the tether line), drop a thin rope from the crawl space all the way down to the ground. Then I tie the rope to the wreath and attach an extension cord up the rope every few feet with electrical tape until the end that I cut off.

                  Then I hoist the whole assembly up the side of the house using the rope inside the attic and when its up all the way, I tie it to a rafter and reconnect the extension cord and plug it into an X10 outlet that I put in the attic just for the christmas wreaths.

                  When the wreaths go away, I untie the rope, unplug and remove the plug and lower them back down including all the rope. Then I simply pull the tether line and the stopper plugs the hole again until next year.

                  Our house is over 30' at the gable peaks so with the stopper being close in color to the trim, it cannot be seen without it being pointed out to anyone.

                  Strange but true.



                    Iwill probably give those clips a try unfortunately my electrician didn't install the outlets in the soffit, and eventho I have some crawlspace (haven't checked it out yet) I am not sure if there is room to install them now.

                    for halloween:
                    I was considering putting hollow pumpkins over my walkpath lights and have it controlled by the outside motion detectors and probably some other minor stuff (since anything involving mechanics is rather expensive). Still working on that
                    HSPRO 2.4 (ESXi 4.1) | my.Alert NEW | my.Trigger | HSTouch | ACRF2 | UltraM1G | BLWeather | BLLan | Rover
                    (aka xplosiv)
                    Do You Cocoon? Home Automation News, Tutorials, Reviews, Forums & Chat


                      Actually, installing outlets in a soffit might be pretty easy. You can use "old work" electrical boxes (made for installations where you can't nail them to a stud). Cut a hole, the right size for the box, from the outside and push a fish tape up inside. You can push a metal fish tape far enough into the attic that you won't have to crawl into the low space out next to the edge. Tape your wire to the fish tape, from inside, and then pull it out the opening. Feed it through the box and fasten the box in place. Really pretty simple.


                        Good idea!, I finally get to use the fishing tape I bought then (bought it for cat5 cable, then realized months later that it was a little too big).
                        HSPRO 2.4 (ESXi 4.1) | my.Alert NEW | my.Trigger | HSTouch | ACRF2 | UltraM1G | BLWeather | BLLan | Rover
                        (aka xplosiv)
                        Do You Cocoon? Home Automation News, Tutorials, Reviews, Forums & Chat



                          Cinncinatti, I'm in Columbus and I think you just convinced me to drive down for Xmas just to see it! When it gets closer maybe you can email me your address!!



                            If you are into christmas lights, you might want to check the below link.

                            Why I like my 2005 rio yellow Honda S2000 with the top down, and more!


                              I do exactly what Kerry does. I live in Chicago so we get snow, sleet and rain. I've done this 2 or three Christmases in a row. I also do the same thing for some other holidays such as Halloween.

                              I use appliance modules exclusively. I mark which ones I use outdoors and never use them any place else. I figure they are much less likely to start a fire outside if the elements got to them. After all they are not rated for outdoor use. All my outdoor outlets are GFI type.

                              I've used multiple light strings as someone else mentioned. That requires multiple appliance modules so what I do is to run one power cord (note: use outdoor cords, not whimpy indoor type) to a green metal stake in the ground (available at ACE Hardware, Home Depot, etc. - make sure you get the kind that can't be bent as both are sold) that's 2 or more feet above ground level (so snow won't get up inside). From there I plug each color (or whatever) module into it, then distribute out from there. I use plenty of cable ties to make sure things stay put. I locate the stake close to the house so as to reduce exposure to the elements, then drape with thick plastic sheet that's available on rolls from Home Depot. (Check the paint department.) One stake/distribution point in the front of the house and the other in the rear where I also have an outlet. So assuming red/green/white, I have a total of 6 appliance modules outdoors.

                              I try to maximize use of power cords but there are still cords all over the place. I run three across the sidewalk to the parkway trees (one for each color) and distribute from there. I put them through a plastic floor runner that I bought at Office Depot which is designed to protect cords when run across an office floor. So far I haven't had a problem with the snow blower and I have on occasion forgotten that it was there.

                              X10 advised me not to use lamp modules because too low a wattage can damage the modules. I picked up a batch of modules from one year at a blow out price so I have lots. So far I've only replaced one module (and it was never used outdoors) because it buzzed. I use a lot of modules inside since most everything holiday like is by an outlet that can be used. I cycle my outside lights every 30 minutes. 30 Seconds seemed too excessive. I figure these modules can only handle so many cycles before they die. I cycle stuff off before cycling the next thing on, this way the amount of current drawn at any one time is minimized. We use a lot of lights and together I'm sure it draws quite a bit of current. My outside outlets are on inside circuits, as I'm sure is the case for most homes. One of these days I'm going to have an electrician change this. Problem is my circuit breaker box is full as I've had some stuff added.

                              I wish there were modules rated for outdoor use because what we are doing is obviously not safe nor recommended. However I feel that having GFI outlets helps.

                              I have an Imation Irman infrared receiver on my HS system and have set up some remote control commands to allow manual control of the Christmas tree lights and other indoor lights because my wife usually wants to be able to turn the inside holiday lights on during the day.

                              Is anyone using any sort of lubricant/protector on the prongs of their plugs? I usually have to clean up the extension cord prongs as the copper becomes oxidized from outdoor use.

                              [This message was edited by Adam Horwitz on Tuesday, 24 September 2002 at 09:42 PM.]

                              [This message was edited by Adam Horwitz on Tuesday, 24 September 2002 at 09:46 PM.]