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Discussion Starter #1
Howdy Folks! This is my first post in what feels like eons (on a new account, no less).... and I'm so glad to see this community is still THRIVING, even during the off-season!

I've tasked myself with an elaborate project for next year, and it involves something I have little experience with: electrical lighting.

Here's a paired-down image from the facade design render:
Lighting Hlep.png

The whole idea here is that the haunt name will be "carved" onto the wooden planks and lit from behind so that it glows through the planks. This whole piece will be made out of foam and weather-coated so that it's lightweight. The pumpkins underneath will be paper mache and suspended from the sign. What I'd like to do is install those fancy LED flame effect bulbs in the pumpkins to make them look like they're glowing jack-o-lantern style. Ideally, the LED lighting for the wooden plank sign would be accomplished by strip-lighting (the kind you find in boats and cars).

It's easy enough to just buy the cords with the waterproof sockets at the end and integrate them into the pumpkins, but I don't want to have 12 separate plugs to manage with extension cords. I was thinking something along the lines of low voltage landscape lighting, but with the flame bulbs. Is this possible? Is there an easier way to hack this thing so that I don't need a transformer between the lighting and the outlet?

Total size will be roughly 15'-20' wide and 8' tall. I'd like to be able to run all the cords up the jute rope and onto the roof of the venue since we'll be having other lights and audio connections up there.

Thanks for any input you haunters might have! I can't wait to dive back into things this year...it's been too long!
 

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I know there are going to be some folks that have more experience with LED lights and sequencing, but I'm old school and tend to go for the easiest/cheapest options if available: There are actual flicker strand lights that contain 8-16 lights out there. I donated a bunch over the summer as I was paring down my hoard, but they do still sell them.

You can also find random twinkly light strands as well (especially at x-mas time!), and if the interior of the pumpkins are painted orange/red, they'll reflect like fire/candle flame.

Here's an example from Target, but closer to Halloween it is way easier to find tons of specialty lighting like this in store (or cheaper online).
 

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You may also look at solar powered flicker lights. I used some on my hearse this year and they worked great. Plenty of light and no electric chord.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I know there are going to be some folks that have more experience with LED lights and sequencing, but I'm old school and tend to go for the easiest/cheapest options if available: There are actual flicker strand lights that contain 8-16 lights out there. I donated a bunch over the summer as I was paring down my hoard, but they do still sell them.

You can also find random twinkly light strands as well (especially at x-mas time!), and if the interior of the pumpkins are painted orange/red, they'll reflect like fire/candle flame.

Here's an example from Target, but closer to Halloween it is way easier to find tons of specialty lighting like this in store (or cheaper online).
Thank you for that suggestion! I was really hoping to avoid having several plugs to deal with, but its definitely an option.

You may also look at solar powered flicker lights. I used some on my hearse this year and they worked great. Plenty of light and no electric chord.
Solar power is definitely enticing, and the ones available on Amazon look stellar! My biggest concern there is that they will still be on during the off-nights of the haunt, while everything else is off. Maybe that makes it more spooky? ;)

A quick search revealed this

https://www.amazon.com/Tento-Flickering-Affects-Simulated-Lighting/dp/B079NXDYN7/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_86_lp_t_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=ZCSA8EZ64ZYY4TMQZFQN

I would try one out first, as some of these flicker bulbs have recognizable patterns, but the above solution will probably be the least expensive in the low voltage arena. You will need a 12vdc power supply, but those are pretty cheap.
Now this seems like the most appealing solution. Thanks!!! My biggest concern is that they are actually overpowered at 12v based on some of the reviews I've seen about them 'burning out' when connected to a 12v supply. If many (like 20) are connected together though, will that be the case? Would I even be able to connect 20+ units together and run off of a single 12v power supply, or will I need more?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
These are the bulbs I'm looking at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078NS7RC5/?coliid=I3A7MAA83DAN9O&colid=3FK8MWI31U1TW&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

And this is a waterproof, 50w DV 12v power supply: https://www.amazon.com/QILIPSU-Driver-Waterproof-Transformer-3-Prong/dp/B07H27QJ9F/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1544166249&sr=8-9&keywords=12+volt+power+supply+waterproof+50w#customerReviews

The bulbs are rated at 3w each, and I reckon I'll need at least 2 bulbs per pumpkin (12 pumpkins total) to get the best flicker effect. So that's technically consuming 24 watts from a 50 watt supply. Now, is this going to overdrive the bulbs? Should I be looking for something that is closer to 30 watts? There's also a 100 watt version.

My field of experience is mostly home theater, where the amps aren't delivering 100% of their RMS power all the time - it's varied. I know the same principles don't really apply here...most of the time, anyway.
 

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Using a 12 volt power supply on a LED rated at 12 volts would not be overpowering it, what kills LED's is the current. Without a current limiting device, the LED will have a very short life. In a parallel circuit, which is how you would be wiring it up, the voltage will remain the same. With these devices, I would imagine that they probably have built in current protection.

They are advertising that each unit only draws 2 watts, or .166 amps, so in theory 20 of the units would draw 3.20 amps. I would recommend a regulated 10 amp power supply to power the units, they run about $10-$15 on ebay. Just for FYI, when I connect my LED's, I use 22 gauge 2 conductor black alarm wire. I buy it in 500 foot rolls pretty cheap, and it is good for up to 3 amps.
 

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These are the bulbs I'm looking at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078NS7RC5/?coliid=I3A7MAA83DAN9O&colid=3FK8MWI31U1TW&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

And this is a waterproof, 50w DV 12v power supply: https://www.amazon.com/QILIPSU-Driver-Waterproof-Transformer-3-Prong/dp/B07H27QJ9F/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1544166249&sr=8-9&keywords=12+volt+power+supply+waterproof+50w#customerReviews

The bulbs are rated at 3w each, and I reckon I'll need at least 2 bulbs per pumpkin (12 pumpkins total) to get the best flicker effect. So that's technically consuming 24 watts from a 50 watt supply. Now, is this going to overdrive the bulbs? Should I be looking for something that is closer to 30 watts? There's also a 100 watt version.

My field of experience is mostly home theater, where the amps aren't delivering 100% of their RMS power all the time - it's varied. I know the same principles don't really apply here...most of the time, anyway.
With 3 watts those draw .25 amps each, for a total of 3 amps. When you use an LED driver, they are very specific for the wattage of the LED, so unless the wattage is exactly the same, I wouldn't use it. I would imagine that those units have current limiting devices in them. I would try a couple of them and run them for a month straight to stress test them. If they work, great. If not, we can revisit the problem to see what we can do to remedy the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Using a 12 volt power supply on a LED rated at 12 volts would not be overpowering it, what kills LED's is the current. Without a current limiting device, the LED will have a very short life. In a parallel circuit, which is how you would be wiring it up, the voltage will remain the same. With these devices, I would imagine that they probably have built in current protection.

They are advertising that each unit only draws 2 watts, or .166 amps, so in theory 20 of the units would draw 3.20 amps. I would recommend a regulated 10 amp power supply to power the units, they run about $10-$15 on ebay. Just for FYI, when I connect my LED's, I use 22 gauge 2 conductor black alarm wire. I buy it in 500 foot rolls pretty cheap, and it is good for up to 3 amps.
I see a few options on eBay, most of which look like 'swiss cheese' metal enclosures you might find in a computer. Are these what you're referring to? And if so, I'd need to find a way to waterproof it. I see a couple options that are waterproof and look more like the one I posted above.

EDIT: We're posting in tandem :p Thanks for all of your help! I will definitely just have to take a leap and see how it goes.

EDIT 2: If I had the chance to ask one more noob question, it would be this: Can I just wire directly onto the little metal leads coming off the flicker bulbs, or will I need something like this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N42T7R2/ref=sspa_dk_hqp_detail_aax_0?psc=1
 

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Lol, never heard them called swiss cheese, paint them yellow and they might look edible. Check out this link:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/AC-TO-DC-12V-1A-50A-Switch-Power-Supply-Driver-Adapter-3528-5050-LED-Strip-Light/322625450169?hash=item4b1df9b0b9:m:mwgmTrkIU1QKNgldlZKT1ew:rk:1:pf:0

The swiss cheese ones have an adjustment where you can adjust the voltage a bit. The black power boxes shown are a fixed voltage, which would work well for you needs. I have never used the waterproof ones. I usually take the standard power supplies and put them in a waterproof box when needed. I prefer to put electronics in the garage and run wires to the props, unless the prop is complex or the wire run would be more than 100 feet.

Those light sockets are nice, but not needed. I would either solder the wires to the lead or use butt splices and crimp the wires to the leads on the lights. Those sockets are less than a buck each, so I personally would go for the sockets.
 

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Looking at the specification on the lights, they are 290-350 lumens which would be pretty bright. I might have to get some of these for my "fire" in the barrels I have. I myself would procure the sockets to go with them as they would probably be damaged during the soldering process.

If you wanted to go old schools and use flame bulbs, you could always make your own cords with sockets. Just use some SPT-1 wire with C7 lamp sockets and custom make the entire length with just one plug.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Looking at the specification on the lights, they are 290-350 lumens which would be pretty bright. I might have to get some of these for my "fire" in the barrels I have. I myself would procure the sockets to go with them as they would probably be damaged during the soldering process.

If you wanted to go old schools and use flame bulbs, you could always make your own cords with sockets. Just use some SPT-1 wire with C7 lamp sockets and custom make the entire length with just one plug.
I'm glad this discussion may have sparked some inspiration for you!

I see that the SPT-1 has an amperage and wattage tolerance (looking at it here: https://www.noveltylights.com/spt-1-green-wire-100?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=sc_shopping&adpos=1o2&scid=scplp19678&sc_intid=19678&gclid=eaiaiqobchmi-sudg6ms3wivbprpch0mdq3keaqyaiabegjoupd_bwe ). 8 amps and 960 watts.

So according to the information I got from FogMaster the other day when he said '...each unit only draws 2 watts, or .166 amps, so in theory 20 of the units would draw 3.20 amps,' if I used an LED flicker bulb with the C7 (or E12) base that drew <2 watts like this: https://www.amazon.com/YEAHBEER-Candelabra-Chandelier-Non-Dimmable-Candle/dp/B07BKYZCPY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1544343659&sr=8-4&keywords=c7+flicker , I should be able to string all 12+ together on a single cord, right? I wouldn't be going the low voltage route, however.
 

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Just a couple of comments. You might want to use the bulb sockets since they are not that expensive, yet would make replacing individual bulbs so much easier. With any cheap electronics, especially those used outdoors, failure rates in real life are frequent. (Also buy extra bulbs.) As for wiring, I'd probably go to a local Re-Store and buy a cheap spool of decent gauge wire. Even though it's overkill, you might want to stick with regular outlet AC power cord wire, just for its physical strength, used to hang the pumpkins. (You could find an Amazon/Ebay deal for 12 extension cords and just cut the ends off.) I'd also wire each pumpkin in parallel, with the multiple bulbs within each pumpkin in series, so that the wire doesn't carry the full current of all the bulbs. I'd get a decently overrated DC power supply (double your intended power load, check you math). Finally, I'd also get a cheap electrical box to house the power supply, and a power bus/rail that allows you to easily wire the power supply output to the pumpkins. Keep that inside, out of the weather.

When in doubt, reach out, to ask more questions here or on google. Be very careful with electricity! It's easy to start a fire (or die) if you make mistakes wiring to household 120V AC (which you will be hooking up to). You don't want any hard-knock lessons.
 

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I'm glad this discussion may have sparked some inspiration for you!

I see that the SPT-1 has an amperage and wattage tolerance (looking at it here: https://www.noveltylights.com/spt-1-green-wire-100?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=sc_shopping&adpos=1o2&scid=scplp19678&sc_intid=19678&gclid=eaiaiqobchmi-sudg6ms3wivbprpch0mdq3keaqyaiabegjoupd_bwe ). 8 amps and 960 watts.

So according to the information I got from FogMaster the other day when he said '...each unit only draws 2 watts, or .166 amps, so in theory 20 of the units would draw 3.20 amps,' if I used an LED flicker bulb with the C7 (or E12) base that drew <2 watts like this: https://www.amazon.com/YEAHBEER-Candelabra-Chandelier-Non-Dimmable-Candle/dp/B07BKYZCPY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1544343659&sr=8-4&keywords=c7+flicker , I should be able to string all 12+ together on a single cord, right? I wouldn't be going the low voltage route, however.
Just curious, why are you opting for the 120 volt version? When you use 12 volt, you can pretty much get away with anything, small wire, open terminals etc. When you step up to 120 volts, you need to run at least 18 gauge, and with 20 connection points, that would be a few power strips you would have to add, not to mention much better wiring standards/ practices. Dpeterson brought up a few good points as well, I never considered if they would be hanging from the wires or not.
 

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Using 20 lights on one string and you will be fine. The sockets (https://www.amazon.com/Holiday-Lighting-Outlet-Replacement-Sockets/dp/B01M9AT5N1/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1544378746&sr=8-18&keywords=c7+sockets+lights) are vampire taps just like Christmas lights. All you are doing is creating your own custom length and spacing. Amazon even suggested the vampire plugs and receptacles when I looked at the sockets. This is just one option for you on the 120 volt side. Most of my lighting is 120v as parts are easier to come by and to replace. When you make the cord the ribbed side is the natural side and the large blade is the neural side. Here's a YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4WRtsmaLd8.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Just a couple of comments. You might want to use the bulb sockets since they are not that expensive, yet would make replacing individual bulbs so much easier. With any cheap electronics, especially those used outdoors, failure rates in real life are frequent. (Also buy extra bulbs.) As for wiring, I'd probably go to a local Re-Store and buy a cheap spool of decent gauge wire. Even though it's overkill, you might want to stick with regular outlet AC power cord wire, just for its physical strength, used to hang the pumpkins. (You could find an Amazon/Ebay deal for 12 extension cords and just cut the ends off.) I'd also wire each pumpkin in parallel, with the multiple bulbs within each pumpkin in series, so that the wire doesn't carry the full current of all the bulbs. I'd get a decently overrated DC power supply (double your intended power load, check you math). Finally, I'd also get a cheap electrical box to house the power supply, and a power bus/rail that allows you to easily wire the power supply output to the pumpkins. Keep that inside, out of the weather.

When in doubt, reach out, to ask more questions here or on google. Be very careful with electricity! It's easy to start a fire (or die) if you make mistakes wiring to household 120V AC (which you will be hooking up to). You don't want any hard-knock lessons.
I should have specified: the electrical wire will NOT be supporting the weight of the pumpkin, even though it should be pretty light - I'm going to be using Fun-Kins in varying sizes. I plan on having coated stainless wire (akin to what picture frames are hung with) carrying most of the weight, and then making it look like the pumpkins are suspended from beneath the main sign with manila rope. The electrical wiring will just be zip-tied to the back of each rope.

Just curious, why are you opting for the 120 volt version? When you use 12 volt, you can pretty much get away with anything, small wire, open terminals etc. When you step up to 120 volts, you need to run at least 18 gauge, and with 20 connection points, that would be a few power strips you would have to add, not to mention much better wiring standards/ practices. Dpeterson brought up a few good points as well, I never considered if they would be hanging from the wires or not.
I wanted to consider all of my options, but I'm still heavily leaning towards the 12v solution. The overall size of everything is much more appealing at 12v, but the 120v route has better LED flicker bulb products. They're massive by comparison, but the look and effect is much more convincing. Price wise, I can get a single 12v LED flicker with a G4 base for less than $3 on eBay (quality to be determined), which is really great. A single 120v LED bulb is anywhere from $7 - $15 per bulb (or less in bulk)...not so great, but better reviewed. Adding in the sockets and wiring etc. doesn't really add much more to the price for either option.

This is a commercial haunt (assuming all goes well and we get the funding, anyway), so I need it to be up to spec (so much for lower wiring standards ;) )and look freakin' terrific.

Using 20 lights on one string and you will be fine. The sockets (https://www.amazon.com/Holiday-Lighting-Outlet-Replacement-Sockets/dp/B01M9AT5N1/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1544378746&sr=8-18&keywords=c7+sockets+lights) are vampire taps just like Christmas lights. All you are doing is creating your own custom length and spacing. Amazon even suggested the vampire plugs and receptacles when I looked at the sockets. This is just one option for you on the 120 volt side. Most of my lighting is 120v as parts are easier to come by and to replace. When you make the cord the ribbed side is the natural side and the large blade is the neural side. Here's a YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4WRtsmaLd8.
Thanks for the detailed info! Definitely good to know if I decide to go the 120v route. Gotta love YouTube :)
 

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Just to throw another option into the mix that comes from someone who thinks using standard voltage has its perks, You could use a 25 foot patio light set that uses E-26 sockets. (Standard household bulbs fit into it.) One example of many out there: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Newhouse-Lighting-25-ft-Outdoor-String-Lights-Commercial-Grade-Incandescent-Hanging-Lights-10-Light-Bulbs-Included-CSTRINGINC10/303038558?cm_mmc=Shopping|G|Base|D27L|Multi|NA|PLA|ExteriorLighting|71700000038718130|58700004245149811|92700035277638892&gclid=Cj0KCQiAurjgBRCqARIsAD09sg_XEb4tDH85Gi6sI8P6VxiJFr8bcQH_6zIenfCF-iI00gwyAhkEd_QaAqMkEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

patiolight.jpg

Then you take out the lights that come on the strand and replace them with versions of the LED flame bulbs you said you were interested in. But, you buy the bulbs with the gravity sensor option and an E-26 bulb fitting. These lights will have the flame coming from the ground side of the bulb no matter how you place them. The light is way brighter than you'll probably need, as they are equivalent to about a 40 watt bulb on average. Again, just one option that I've used and like: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Newhouse-Lighting-25-ft-Outdoor-String-Lights-Commercial-Grade-Incandescent-Hanging-Lights-10-Light-Bulbs-Included-CSTRINGINC10/303038558?cm_mmc=Shopping|G|Base|D27L|Multi|NA|PLA|ExteriorLighting|71700000038718130|58700004245149811|92700035277638892&gclid=Cj0KCQiAurjgBRCqARIsAD09sg_XEb4tDH85Gi6sI8P6VxiJFr8bcQH_6zIenfCF-iI00gwyAhkEd_QaAqMkEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

light3.jpg

You can now take your flame lights and place one in a pumpkin, bring the cord of the hanging light up to the sign, leave one light behind the sign, and drop the next one down into the next pumpkin. You create a sort of zig-zag with the patio light string. You can use whatever color LED bulb you want for behind the sign. E-26 LED bulbs are pretty easy to come by, including ones that do that whole RGB changing thing. And without a great deal of wiring knowhow, you have a sign with weather resistant electrical outlets already built in.

Anyway, just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
You can now take your flame lights and place one in a pumpkin, bring the cord of the hanging light up to the sign, leave one light behind the sign, and drop the next one down into the next pumpkin. You create a sort of zig-zag with the patio light string. You can use whatever color LED bulb you want for behind the sign. E-26 LED bulbs are pretty easy to come by, including ones that do that whole RGB changing thing. And without a great deal of wiring knowhow, you have a sign with weather resistant electrical outlets already built in.

Anyway, just a thought.
This was actually my initial go-to plan when I first conceptualized this thing a few months back, but I couldn't think of how I would hide the other sockets that dangle between the pumpkins. It didn't even occur to me to just zig-zag the cord behind the sign above the pumpkins, like you said. If the price savings are significant to go this route (factoring in my labor as well), it may just be the golden ticket. I think they're on sale at Harbor Freight for like $20 a string, too. Thanks for your input!

EDIT: Did a price breakdown. About $100 to go the low voltage route, or roughly $150 to do it this way. I think it comes down to what I will have more fun doing, to be honest :eek: I like the waterproofed and heavy-duty nature of the E26 "patio lights" version, but the subtlety of the 12v G4 bulbs. I think the latter will give me more that of "glow" for the pumpkins that I'm looking for, but the longevity is also something to consider. I know the former will probably be more durable over long periods of time. DECISIONS DECISIONS.
 

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DECISIONS DECISIONS.
This has always been my dilemma about coming to the forum and asking for help. So many responses with so many options. I almost feel guilty when I realize I like two or three of the approaches, but have to settle on one. All in all a fine place to be in considering when I started out I'm usually at a loss for even one option. :)
 

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This has always been my dilemma about coming to the forum and asking for help. So many responses with so many options. I almost feel guilty when I realize I like two or three of the approaches, but have to settle on one. All in all a fine place to be in considering when I started out I'm usually at a loss for even one option. :)
I joined AVSForum a few years ago and asked (what I thought were) really straightforward and simple questions about what kind of speakers I should get for an entry-level home theater setup. I was completely overwhelmed by the responses I got. Some told me to go as economic as possible, some told me to spend grips of money on one component at a time, others suggested I get super high-end interconnects that would make crappy equipment sound amazing. And the rationale behind almost every suggestion was sound, but it was entirely subjective.

Ultimately, it came down to what I was going to be happy with, and the only way to find out was to try things for myself. I have a feeling that's going to be the case for this signage.
 
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