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I’m looking for cheap and easy ways to light up tombstones as well as some yard props in my haunt. I’ve got about 25 tombstones and need bulk lighting that is waterproof. I’ve used those LED color changing puck lights before, but you have to turn them on and off every night and they only have about 10-20 hours of light per 3 AA batteries, so those get pricey over a month long scene. I have low voltage landscape lights throughout the yard year round but can’t find mini light fixtures that can display different colors cheap at all. Would love something that can display whatever colors or color I need plus has a 4-6 hour timer. Oh, and I’m not very technical at all! Am I asking too much here??
 

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Do you want the color to change, or are single colors per tombstone acceptable? You mentioned landscape lights. If you still have them color bulbs are available. Although it's a little late now, I typically wait until after the holidays to stock up on everything, including lights. Between Halloween and Christmas you can get many of the effect type lights (swirling, kaleidoscope) for half off or more, then after Christmas there are a lot of LED spots out there. WalMart, if you have one, usually clears these out for a few bucks each. Then there's always film/gel, but I've always been partial to the LED spots. Keep an eye open on CL marketplace, Craigslist, and Ebay for these items, as well. And if you don't need them all to come on at different times.one or two timers is all you need. Just plug them into the same circuits. With LEDs especially you are not running high wattage. These times are also on clearance after Christmas, and big box clubs also carry them prior to Halloween for good prices. For anything on my porch that is covered, I have clamp on and can lights to help with the effects. Again, these can be garage sale finds.
 

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This past year I got super lazy and purchased rope lights from Costco (they were on sale). They work on remote and offer some nice colors and lighting patterns. I used tan J channel (a siding piece) that I spray painted green to hold/hide it and angled at the tombstones. Last year I picked an off-white flicker (like candles) and it looked awesome. Since it plugged in and remembered the last setting, I just set it up once on a timer and walked away for the rest of the season.
A couple of things: You can only pick one color for everything and it only really works if your tombstones are in straight lines. It's also almost impossible to get a good picture because they don't produce enough light for photography. You will need additional lighting around the yard and along your path (which can be good or bad depending on your set up).
 

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Well firstly, yes, it does unfortunately sound like you're asking too much.. :ROFLMAO: What you've stumbled on, is the holy grail of a perfect lighting option.. :eek: You'll never find it!

All of them have pros and cons which I'll go through..

The options available for lighting up tombstones properly will either be wired or super expensive and therefore will be out of your budget if you want to do it cheaply. You can't have both I'm afraid or we'd all be using them. 👍

Sure, there are options, mainly what has already been said with the likes of Solar, they're my go to choice purely for neatness, cost and time and ease of setup. I make sure I get really good ones, which cost a bit more, but they hold charge as long as possible and are bright enough to light up my Tombstones just fine, plus if I choose, I can use the colour cycle which fades in and out of different colours or i can lock them on one specific colour... But then the weather comes into play with those and if you get bad sunlight for the night or two before the event, it won't build up enough charge and it can screw all the effect up. Some won't come on, some will be faint, some will run out sooner than others. It's the risk you take..

So this is where battery is good.. I also use these cool little spotlights which are bright enough to light up Tombstones but are run off a 9v battery. I don't mind using them because they easily last the night, but I don't use them for a month like you. Or you could try some of those submersible spotlights, they're waterproof, and they come with a remote and you can choose the colours whenever you like, but it's fixed, not sequenced or fading in and out to a different colour. Trouble is, you say you don't want the expense of batteries, which I get, running them on and off for a month long period. Maybe invest in a ton of rechargeable ones and some chargers?? A bit of expense at the outset, but as long as you charge them during the day, they'll be ready to go and last the night.

Wired is always gonna be the perfect choice when it comes to maximum effect, because you can link timers, they don't dim, unless you set it to, there's no additional cost, and they have various colour switching modes and colour options. But assuming they're waterproof, which is half the battle, finding ones that are, and that you don't mind the ugliness of all the cords across the lawn from the many extensions you'll have to run them with, which will again detract from the effect, it's the best choice overall.

So in short, unless I'm missing something and there's another way to do it with all the options you want, I'd either check out what other Battery/Solar options you have available, or up your budget for some good wired option.

If you find a solution please be sure to share it because I'm sure we'd all like to know. (y)
 

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The easiest and cheapest way to light up a bunch of tombstones is the ole C9 string lights and soda can method. I did this years back when I had a graveyard theme. Worked perfectly!! Here ya go!!!

 

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The easiest and cheapest way to light up a bunch of tombstones is the ole C9 string lights and soda can method. I did this years back when I had a graveyard theme. Worked perfectly!! Here ya go!!!

That's the setup I've been using for almost 10 years now (still using the same cans and four sets of cords) although I use C7s. I will say that screwing in the bulbs by hand is a PITA (have bandages handy😳). The four cords allows different tombstones to be lit on different channels to give a strobing effect with moving shadows.
 

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That's the setup I've been using for almost 10 years now (still using the same cans and four sets of cords) although I use C7s. I will say that screwing in the bulbs by hand is a PITA (have bandages handy😳). The four cords allows different tombstones to be lit on different channels to give a strobing effect with moving shadows.
I love this suggestion, thnx! My question is that since these are outdoor and we tend to get rain over a month long haunt, does the rain not get into the empty sockets and short the string out?
 

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I love this suggestion, thnx! My question is that since these are outdoor and we tend to get rain over a month long haunt, does the rain not get into the empty sockets and short the string out?
I used electrical tape to cover the empty sockets. It worked well.
 

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Do you guys not use these weatherproof socket boxes?? They're a must for covering spare ends and keeping the live sockets away from the weather. Plus you can get them in different colours so will blend easily at night..
I have used those before. They filled up with
Do you guys not use these weatherproof socket boxes?? They're a must for covering spare ends and keeping the live sockets away from the weather. Plus you can get them in different colours so will blend easily at night..
I have used those and they filled up with water. So I used electrical tape instead. My display is out the entire month of October, not sure if that made the difference. Not to mention the price difference. Those covers get pricey when you need a bunch of them.
 

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Do you guys not use these weatherproof socket boxes?? They're a must for covering spare ends and keeping the live sockets away from the weather. Plus you can get them in different colours so will blend easily at night..
I don't.
For connected cords, I use generic ziploc bags (sandwich size). Cut off the zipper part and down the sides, roll the plastic sheet around the connections, and secure with a wrap of electrical tape. Cheap and works great no matter the size of the connected ends. It lasts all month and gets thrown out afterwards.
For cord ends and empty sockets, I just use electrical tape. One or two wraps over the socket and then a couple wraps around to hold it in place.
 

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For the last couple of years I have used some simple short led strips which are waterproof and I run a load of them off an old PC ATX power supply. They're really cheap off eBay etc.

Looked a bit Disney last year but the young ToTs liked it
 

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I love these things.

I use the 12V version, they only come in three colors, but I order different colored LED chips from ebay and change them out to any color I want. They come with drivers, but the drivers aren't waterproof. The only downside is that they take a month or so to arrive, but you have plenty of time.

There was someone here that also put an LED into a piece of PVC or conduit for a home made spotlight.
 

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I love this suggestion, thnx! My question is that since these are outdoor and we tend to get rain over a month long haunt, does the rain not get into the empty sockets and short the string out?
I just found these Safety Caps online, looks like they would keep damp out of the empty sockets, and they fit both C7 anC9 lamp sockets. I'm ordering some.
730340

They also have these Socket Seal rubber gaskets looks like would hel keep the wet out of sockets with lamps in them. They have them for C7 sockets as well.
730341
 

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If you're willing to expand your Halloween geekiness just a bit, you can create your own lights using Eagle Eye LEDs. They're the inexpensive waterproof lights used on cars. They're small, easily hid, bright enough for tombstones, and come in bunches of colors. The wiring skills you need to make them work as a perfect, "throw one switch and they're all on" option isn't really that tough. We did it, and we're not really all that skilled at electrical stuff. The best part about it is that unlike C-7 lights, they use next to nothing in power consumption. For us, that was a big issue. We kept tripping the circuit breakers with our incandescent bulbs, but don't have that problem with LEDs.

Static: - A New Approach to Lighting Tombstones for Us was where we first posted our use of the LEDs, and there's a great deal of info to be found there from those who gave us advice. There is a bit of confusion at the start about exactly what wattage they use. However, eventually everyone seems to agree that the 9 watt bulb reference is actually saying that they would give off as much light as a 9 watt incandescent light. Their actually power consumption is far less.

If you want to see an easy way to adapt them a bit more, take a look at the Van Oaks Prop Foundry video on you tube for a great way to add even a bit more waterproofing and ease of operation. He uses RCA jacks for tying them all together, but they're getting progressively more and more difficult to find. You can use 12V Male and Female 2.1x5.5mm DC Power Jack Plug Adapters. They're easy to use, require no soldering, and are made watertight in a number of ways.


If you want to keep it even simpler, you can create each of the lights with it's own length of cord suitable for where you're going to place them and run them back to a single power source. Here's a decent video from the folks at Stiltbeast that shows you how to do that. He's using even smaller 5mm LEDs, but the wiring approach he's using will work for the Eagle Eye LEDs. You will simply need to do the math to make sure your 12 V power source has enough amperage to power your lights. (It's not as scary as it sounds.)


This is one of those areas where you can actually DIY without running a great risk of burning your house down as long as you do the math and follow the instructions. I have to admit going into it, we didn't have all the knowledge we needed, but it still worked out well because of the low voltages and wattage in play. Now, with the extra help from all the wonderful folk here, we're really confident that our set up is not only safe, but inexpensive and frugal electrically use as well.
 
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