Different Voltage on Power Packs

Discussion in 'Power Supplies' started by Charger, Oct 13, 2015.

  1. Charger

    Charger Apprentice Elf

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    Hi there,


    Have been doing modest Christmas light displays for several years now, however thought it was time to take the plunge into the world of organised and sequenced lighting etc.


    My first step is to organise my power, but all the info seems a bit overwhelming. I have read through the manuals/wiki and through numerous threads on this forum, but I want to make sure I am on the right track, before I commit to anything.


    Most of my lights have been bought from Big W over the past 5 or so years. Every year I pack them away, removing the power packs, never giving any thought to the fact that they have different output ratings. When I plug them in - if the plug fits and lights come on that has been good enough for me.


    I am trying to work out what power supply/s to get to organise my system. Looking at all of the power packs, they range from '22V-10VA' to '24V-10VA' to '30V-.43A' These are all from the same brand Big W string lights over the past few years.


    My question is, will I need two or three different power supplies to run all these lights, or can I get away with one power supply to suit all (As mentioned previously, they seem to work OK when I swap the power packs over)


    Any advice would be appreciated.


    Thanks
    Craig
     
  2. David_AVD

    David_AVD Good news, everyone!

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    Firstly, welcome to ACL. :)

    The 22V and 24V plugpacks should be interchangeable without issue. Presumably the (newer ?) 30V ones have the MFC (Multi Function Controller) built in.

    Beware that the 2015 Big W lights have gone to a new 2-wire system and are not compatible with other sets and can't be used with 3rd party DC controllers.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Charger

    Charger Apprentice Elf

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    Thanks for the reply David. The 30v one was from 2 years ago I think, but it doesn't have a mfc built in. I'm sure I have used it previously with the lower voltage sets seemingly with no problems. This being the case, could I get say a 33v power supply that will power all the lights?
     
  4. David_AVD

    David_AVD Good news, everyone!

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    I run a heap of Big W strings using DC controllers and a 30V DC power supply.

    You chop the MFC boxes off the strings and wire them into a DC controller which is fed by the 30V DC power supply. Yay - no more plugpacks !

    This means you'll have complete (computer) control over all of your strings, so they can chase together, all at once, whatever you like. :)

    Just replacing the plugpacks without going computer controlled is pretty much a waste of effort I reckon.

    Where in Queensland are you by the way?
     
  5. scamper

    scamper Senior Elf

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    I have a 27v power supply which I use for all of my bigW lights.
    No problem there, and my strings are from the last 3 years or so.
     
  6. Habbosrus

    Habbosrus New house (again) 2017

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    I've run 3 full sets (3 × 600) of BigW lights off a Ray Wu 27v power supply running @ 29v. They're controlled by one of AAH's 2811DC15's. Worked fantastically well.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Charger

    Charger Apprentice Elf

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    David - Thanks a heap. That is definitely an upside that I hadn't thought about before looking at this stuff - No more plugpacks and powerboards etc. I am definitely aiming to use the computer to control the lights, but at this stage, just trying to understand one step at a time.


    I think I will order one of Ray WU's DC power supplies tonight. Tossing up between 27V and 33V - can't see a 30V one. Would 33V be better or no real difference? By the way I live on northside of Brisbane[SIZE=78%].[/SIZE]


    Scamper and Habbosrus - Thanks also for your replies. How long did the Ray Wu power supplies take to arrive once ordered?
     
  8. Habbosrus

    Habbosrus New house (again) 2017

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    This is Rays busiest time of year and China have just had their national holiday where everything stops for a week (more like 2-3 weeks). If you are only ordering power supplies, he may ship it quickly. I have had orders turn up in 3 days from order (early in the year) and I have had orders take 2 weeks, which isn't too bad. I placed an order with him last week and enquired about my order yesterday. He shipped it today.
     
  9. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    You can measure the current draw with a multimeter. You want it to be 100mA per channel for the sets of 200 lights. Increasing the voltage increases the current flow. You'll find that the correct voltage will vary between the light sets that are different colours or from different years. I'd ignore what the original plugpack says. Some of them are AC and some are DC so they're hard to compare anyway.

    Once you know the right voltages, add diodes to the channel inputs of the light sets (not the common positive). Each diode drops a half volt or so (still measure the current again to be safe). This way you can vary the number of diodes so the lights all run at the same voltage.

    I used resistors in series with the LEDs. This worked but it was a huge job to set up. I haven't tried diodes yet but it would be well worth trying to save the effort.

    Also be aware that too much current caused by a voltage too high will damage your LEDs.

    If you're ordering from Ray Wu then you may want to consider other items too such as the 27 channel controller. It's quite basic and you'll have to solder in fuses if you want them plus a termination resistor (termination is REALLY simple). It can handle up to 35V or so. http://auschristmaslighting.com/wiki/HD712
    RGB lights are another option too.
     
  10. David_AVD

    David_AVD Good news, everyone!

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    I've not used diodes or resistors on any of my Big W strings when using a 30V supply. Some strings have failed over the years, but just the usual corrosion and the odd dead LED.

    If you were to add a diode, you could put it in the common +ve instead of in each of the channel wires. You could not do this for a resistor though.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    Charger

    Charger Apprentice Elf

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    OK. Thanks again all for the responses. I ordered a 27V power supply from Ray last night, so no doubt I will have further questions once it arrived.


    Regarding diodes, the advantage of using these would be that:
    a) It makes more efficient use of the power supply (Reduces unnecessary voltage from being drawn)
    b) It will reduce the likelihood of damage to the lights (Too much voltage being drawn)
    c) Both a and b
    d) I am clueless and have idea what the hell I am talking about.
     
  12. AntinOz

    AntinOz New Elf

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    I was in your position a few years ago. I ended up getting a DC48 to control my existing lights and a few other props. One side I run 24V the other 30V. This has worked for all my old lights.
     
  13. David_AVD

    David_AVD Good news, everyone!

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    Having a central power supply is much neater than dozens of plugpacks jammed into power boards.

    The big pay-off is when you centralise the control as well as the power.
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Charger

    Charger Apprentice Elf

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    Yep. I am pretty pumped to get them all up and running. I am thinking of using the DMX36 from Hanson Electronics.
    Haven't seen the DC48 AntinOz, where is that one from?
     
  15. MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

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    David sells the DC48. We've been using one for a few years now and it hasn't skipped a beat. This year, we're adding a Mega60 from Hanson Electronics. It just depends how many strings you wish to run. Don't forget that you can chop up the strings into smaller sections.
     

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