12v wire and connector advice - joining several motifs

Discussion in '101 Display Basics' started by bluewombat, Apr 11, 2016.

  1. bluewombat

    bluewombat New Elf

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    Hi guys.
    I found this site when googling a problem with one of my xmas motif last seaon. The problem resolved itself and i've been lurkng ever since.

    I have a 30m+ long house, with power at either end. I've been using mainly motifs on the walls and some free standing displays. With a 30m long canvas I can fit quite a few on.
    At this stage I have no interest in going down the controller route (but never say never)

    My main interest at this point is to get rid of the 240v cables from my yard.
    The last of my 240v ropelight displays died last year so now I have all low volt gear.

    Some of the gear I bought last year came with 10 leads and my original plan this year was to extend the leads on all my lights.

    On the week end I found an unused 12v HPM garden light kit. Unused as 2 of the 4 lights are frogs and my wife has fear of frogs. But it got me thinking, is it viable to somehow set my motifs up in a similar way? ie 1 low volt lead with x number of lights feeding of it.

    Ive done a bit a googling and found a few options, but most of the garden light setup are designed as permanent. I'd like to have the lights detachable for storage and
    The main thing I would like advice on how would you splice the wire and what connectors would you use?
    Or if someone has done something similar, how did you set it up.

    Cheers Troy
     
  2. fasteddy

    fasteddy I have C.L.A.P Global Moderator Generous Elf

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    When dealing with low voltage then voltage drop is a major consideration because for the same wattage used as 240v then the current will be much higher for 12vdc than for 240volt. So if you plan to extend your cables then be aware that you should use a thick gauge cable to help minimise the voltage drop.

    With splicing the wire the best way is to solder and seal with heatshrink, but that's outside of many peoples ability, so then I would use inline crimp connectors and seal with heatshrink
     
  3. scamper

    scamper Senior Elf

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    For outside temporary lighting, you really need to try and get plugs and sockets that are soldered otherwise the movement (of packing and unpacking) will either break strands or just loosen the joins causing less actual surface area of cable to contact the connector which in turn caused more voltage drop and problems escalate from there.
    In terms of connectors and cable size then you really need to find out the current draw from each display item and determine what you need from there.
    I tend to use things like this
    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/200800936669?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT
    you will need to splice into the main power cable at intervals and add a socket for each item as you could not run enough power through these plugs to hook them in series.
    If you do want to just crimp then I would suggest going to a garden lighting or alternatively auto store, but just keep an eye on your connections and make sure you get something that will handle the current.
     
  4. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    This sounds difficult but not impossible.

    Unless you specifically chose them for this purpose, I strongly suspect your light sets are low voltage but not as low as 12V. I did similar to you but with string lights when I converted to computer control in 2013. The controllers I now use replace the 8 function controllers that come with the light sets. Some of these 8 function controllers rely on ripples in the voltage from the original plugpack for timing purposes so they may not be compatible with a new power supply.

    A second problem is that each light set is likely to require a slightly different voltage even if the voltage labels are the same. I was able to hack string lights and icicles to fix this problem but it was a long and time consuming process that requires some (but not too much) background knowledge. Ropelights are different and I no longer use them because I prefer strips.

    The third problem is if you decide to replace the 8 function controllers (after all, they may not work with a new power supply), some newer light sets only have 2 wires between the controller and lights. The polarity is reversed to control the lights within the light set.

    So yes, you could get string lights and icicles working with computer control and a central low voltage system. The computer control replaces the 8 function controllers. Any light sets with two wires coming out of their 8 function controller will not be able to share a new controller with the others but you can have them in the same display setup. As you don't want computer control, you would probably be better just extending the cables between the components of the existing light sets.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    bluewombat

    bluewombat New Elf

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    Thanks all for your replies.
    i13 you are right, I dug some of them out and some are 24v and 36v.
    Id assume you could run a 36v line, but from what you have all said prob not worth the time and effort.

    Next question is if extending the wire by 10-15m will the voltage drop be a problem?
    I think a saw a voltage drop calc link in the 101
    I gotta head out atm, will have a look at that when I get back.

    Thanks again
    Troy
     
  6. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    The answer to your question will depend on the distance you extend the wires, the thickness of the wire you use and the current the light set draws. If it is a problem then you can double the wires to halve the voltage drop. You could also replace some of the original (and likely thinner) wire with the thicker extension that you add but be careful not to let the current draw exceed its original value. I found that I could add those lengths to strings of 200 LEDs using 24/020 cable (roughly 18AWG) that I happened to have.

    Please be extra sure you're dealing with low voltage light sets! Also note that the output of some types of low voltage plugpacks is still dangerous http://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php/topic,7261.0.html
     

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