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Jason
Jason, Service Technician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3622
Experience:  Over 15 years of experience in all types of installations, troubleshooting, and repairs.
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I have Christmas village street lights(battery) and Christmas

Customer Question

I have Christmas village street lights(battery) and Christmas village houses (electric) that I want to wire together so all are electric. I have 2 cabinets, each with 6 shelves. I want to run the combined wires into one line for each shelf, do the same with the 2nd shelf, etc. and run the end cord into one plug in so that I can use a touch pand on the back of each cabinet to turn all the lights in that cabinet off and one with one touch. Let me know if you need more information. I need so to get this done soon, as I am waiting to hear if I have to leave MN to go to TX while my daughter gets chemotherapy.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
HiCustomer This will be a somewhat technical undertaking, but if you have wiring experience, you can pull it off. The trickiest part will be controlling the battery powered components with an AC touch pad. You have 2 options for this:

1. You can by DC power supplies that put out the proper voltage for the battery powered equipment. The power supplies can be plugged into any plug strip, which will be controlled by the touch pad.

2. You can remove the batteries from the components, fabricate battery holders, then route wires from the battery holders through 120 volt AC relays, then into the battery powered decorations. The 120 volt relay coils would be controlled by the touch pad. The relays would need to be in a junction box to be a Code legal installation.

Option 2 is far more complicated. If you have the know how to do it either way, I would go with option 1.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
We had already have option one accomplished and working. We had problems with the street lights burning out because the voltage from some of the AC to DC converters are different. Can we replace the street light bulbs (DC) with LED bulbs from a string of LED Christmas tree lights? If we do this, do we have to add resistors or can we just hook them directly to 120 volts?
Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
Honestly, I have not had a lot of experience with LED's yet, so I would not want to recommend it by stating resolutely that it will work. If I were trying to do this project myself, I would try it as long as the LED's were rated for the power you will be supplying to them.

If you chose to go with option 2, I can walk you through how to do it. I know that it would not burn out the bulbs, because the battery powered equipment would still be powered by the batteries. You would just be interrupting the battery power with the contacts on a 120 volt (coil rating) relay.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
We cannot leave the batteries in as when they died we would have to remove all the accessory pieces, snow, trees, figurines, etc. to replace them. You are saying the power would be from the batteries too, right? So forget about the LED's for now, how can we get them all wired together and not burn out the street light bulbs? Like I replied before. We have done your previous suggestions (did it last year on our own) and just lived with the burned out street lights. Actually some of the bulbs burned out and some didn't. It wasn't very nice looking so we wanted to rewire each shelf and start over doing it a way that would last. You can imagine all the work involved in taking all the houses, trees, sidewalks, figures, street lamps, etc. off each shelf and starting over. We have to figure out how to keep the street lights from burning out and still keeping the convenience of one cord controlling each cabinet. IF you think the touch pad is the problem, we can just use two cords and I could put the lights on a timer. Any suggestions?
Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
I haven't seen a lot of Christmas village decorations up close, so I'm not very aware of what is involved in changing bulbs or batteries. But if you go with option 2, you can put the battery holders in the junction box with the relay, and just place the box in an accessible location. I have never tried to buy battery holders at electronics stores such as Radio Shack, so I don't know if premade units exist or not. It's worth a shot. But if you can't find pre-made battery holders, you can fabricate them yourself with just a few springs.

I do like the idea of the two cords, one for each cabinet. How many sets of batteries are involved?

Do you understand the principle of routing the wires from the batteries through the contacts on a relay, and then into the battery powered equipment? Do you have a soldering iron?

By the way, please do not click the Accept button until or unless you are satisfied with the information I am providing.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Oh dear, I am wasting your time and getting frustrated all at once. This just isn't going to work. I realize it is hard for you to understand the set-up, wish you knew more about the LED's because I think that is the way to go. I appreciate your honesty about not being familiar with them, unfortunately it doesn't answer my question about LED's as in my first message to you. I hope you don't have the headache I do. My husband is very familiar with what you have said, all lies in us finding out about the LED's.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I see my first message did not contain the question about the LED's, it was my second. What happened there is that I asked my question and then was asked to sign up and after I went through all that I had to retype my question and forgot to put in about the LED's.
Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
Please do not fret over wasting my time. I am here to help, and in all honesty, this is one of the best questions I have ever had on this site. I love a challenge. By the way, I just did a search of Radio Shack's website, and they DO have battery holders. Also, I know from previous searches that they have LED's that work with DC power. You may want to look into some of the components offered by Radio Shack.

I may get in trouble for saying this, but I will put your daughter on my prayer list regarding her chemo treatments. I'm sorry that you are dealing with such a difficult situation (her illness) right before the holidays.

Again, please only click the Accept button if you feel my information has been helpful. I am perfectly fine with you choosing not to Accept. I want you to be 100% satisfied. Otherwise, I wouldn't feel right taking your money.

I did see your questions regarding LED's, so I think this answer will cover that. If not, please let me know.



Edited by Jason on 12/2/2009 at 8:41 PM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

As for battery holders, the street lights come with their own battery holder. I just wanted to wire them all into the electric lights of the houses so that I wouldn't be dealing with all the battery boxes, having to hide them behind trees and under the fake snow, etc. The way we had it was that there would be the bulb and el;ectric cord from a house, in between that house and the next we had run in and connected the wires of the formerly battery operated street lights. Then we continued with that 2nd bulb and cord from the house and again spliced in some street lights, then another house, etc. Not each shelf is the same, some shelves have 3 houses, some have 4 and some shelves only have 2 buildings like a house and a school because the school has a large playgound with a battery operated snowman, a battery operated spotlight pointing toward the flag, etc. All those battery operated items were cut off from the battery box and all were wired into the electric cord with the lights of the buildings. Those building light bulbs are the size of old fashioned Christmas lights. We ran that cord along the backside of the shelf and into a corner and then down to the next shelf. We did the second shelf as the first and ran that cord along the backside of the shelf to meet up with the cord hanging down from the first shelf, we wired those 2 wires together and went on dow to the 3rd shelf. Next, we started from the 6th shelf, went up to the 5th shelf, then to the 4th and wired them all together to the one cord that went to the plug-in. Does this all make sense as to how we did it? Our building lights all stayed on, the street lights, well, that was different story. Sometimes all 4 street lamps burned our, sometimes 1 or 2 did, sometimes, depending on how many bulbs there were per streetlight, 1 bulb of 3 would burn out and on the next lampost maybe 2 burned out, etc. There is no rhyme or reason to what burned out and what stayed lit.

 

And, mostly thank you for your kind words for my daughter. The last time I was down there I ended up staying 7 months. Gotta quit now, am crying...

 

So, any other questions or thoughts on this mess we have. When it was all working, it was sooooooo pretty. I'd sure like to get it all working again so we can enjoy it.

Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
This is the second time in my tenure with JustAnswer that I have really wanted to go onsite to help a customer. If it were at all possible, I would love to rewire this for you, free of charge. Unfortunately, I don't see how we could make that happen. I am in northern Indiana.

It sounds complicated, but I'm sure if I could see it, it wouldn't look nearly as complicated as it sounds. At this point, I would strongly consider trying to leave the building lights the way they are, since they all stayed lit. But if you can, disconnect all of the street lights, and replace the bulbs with LED's, then try to power the street lights with their own plug in power supply. Just make sure the power supply has a sufficient output to power all of the street lights. This is where the clerk at Radio Shack would be very helpful. Perhaps you could take one of the street lights to Radio Shack, and show it to the clerk. If they have an LED that will work, the clerk will be able to show you which one. Then, you will need a count of the total number of street lights, so the clerk can size the DC power supply for you. Depending on the number of street lights, it may require more than one DC plug-in power supply. But if you plugged it into a plug strip with a switch on it, you could just control everything with the switch on the plug strip.

Please, reply to this thread as much as necessary. I want to help as much as I possibly can.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

We are going to try Radio Shack, however, there seem to be only a bunch of younger guys there that are mostly into electronic sports related equipment.

 

Not sure how to do this. You have been most kind, however, we really didn't get my problem figured out.

Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
That's okay. I wish we could have resolved it, and we may yet. You may need to talk to me again after you visit Radio Shack. I'll leave this question open, in case you do. It will expire and close 24 hours after your last post, but you can reopen it by replying after it closes. Just follow the links in your email. If I don't hear from you again, best of luck to you in getting this resolved. Let your daughter know that many people she doesn't know are praying for her (and you, and your hubby). Try to have a good Christmas.

By the way, I have done a bit of research on the Internet, and it's possible there are miniature street lights available that run on 120 volts AC. I will keep looking, and if I find that type, I will post a link in this thread.

Again, don't worry about the Accept button. I am thankful for the opportunity to help and encourage you, that's payment enough for me.



Edited by Jason on 12/2/2009 at 9:49 PM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
My husband went to Radio Shack yesterday and did get some resistors and some wire, etc. We are going to try this, wish us luck. Need to be gone today, will try to keep logged on every day until this is resolved. Don't want to loose you. You have been most pleasant in trying to fix our problem. Have a good day Jason. - Oh! I see you are offline.
Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
Hi there. I'm online now, for a few minutes anyway. Just stopped home between projects. I will keep a close eye out for replies from you. You and your family have been on my mind since we spoke yesterday. This site is valuable to me in so many more ways than monetarily. Contact me if you need me. If I'm not online, I will respond ASAP.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
We were gone all day and tonight checked to see what all we have now to start trying the lighting wiring. We are not certain if the guy at RS figured the amps per the strand of LED's or for the individual lights, actually 4, one per each street light. Will have to call him tomorrow to check. Will keep you posted. GOOD NEWS!!! Her cancer is no longer considered a tumor. There could be some active cells, but if it was a tumor it would have grown in the last 3 months. They think some is scar tissue and are having her come back again for the same tests in 3 more months. Can you see me doing a happy dance and shouting to the world??? I am!! I will be in touch, tho probably won't work on the project over the weekend.
Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
That is great news about your daughter. I'm very happy to hear that. I don't know how much I will be Online in the next few days, but please keep me posted.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I just don't want to loose you until our project is done and working, at least for a few days afterward.
Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
You won't lose me. As long as you have Internet access wherever you are, you can just log into the site and look for a "My Qestions" button, or access your email and follow the links from there. I am online quite a bit, so I will be watching for you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX we have one row of 4 lights burning, so far we blew one light on a set of 4. Still working to figure things out.
Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
That's not too bad. Sounds like you just need to tweak it a bit, and all will be well with it. I will be Offline for most of the day today, I have a lot to do that will keep me busy. But I will have a couple of chances to sign on, and I will be home by 10 PM, when I will sign on for an hour or so. I appreciate the updates. Let me know if you need anything. Have a great day!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I'm gone for the weekend. Catch 'ya later.
Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
Are you going to see your daughter? I will look for a reply from you next week, assuming you won't have computer access over the weekend.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi again,

 

Did not go to Dallas, just was busy.

 

So, 5 shelves of street lights were working then one of the 4 on the top shelf quit. This is an ongoing mess.

 

Radio Shack did not have enough resistors, been to town looking all over for some, finally went to a radio repair shop my husband stumbled upon. No one really seems to know what to do or how to do it.

Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
I'm sorry this has been so difficult for you. If Radio Shack can't get more resistors in a timely fashion, you can order them on their website, or from a different source on the Internet. You just need to know the ohm value, and the colors of the rings on the resistor. Perhaps the radio repair shop could get it all working for you if you took all of it to their facility. It's worth a call to them to ask them if they would do it, and how much they would charge. Obviously, you would be without the decorations during that time, so you may not be interested in this option. If there is anything else I can do, please let me know.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
It really isn't possible to take it all in someplace. There are 12 shelves and each is 3' long. There are approximately 60 buildings, plus all the trees and shrubs with lights and then each shelf has 3-5 streetlights. I really don't think I can describe it all to you for you to get the full appreciation. It is a huge undertaking and oh, so pretty when everything is working properly. Not giving up, may have to just put it back to the half burning street lights and get all the 50+ figurines and all the piles of fake snow, etc. in to look half decent. Christmas is coming, I was hoping to do some entertaining by now, especially since I missed Christmas last year dealing with my daughter's health. Am dealing with some back problems myself and if things don't shape up Santa is going to get a bad reputation..
Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
I was thinking you could just take the street light posts and the power supplies, along with the resistors. You wouldn't have to take all of the shelves and buildings in. But I agree, it's difficult to visualize it without seeing it. I suspect it's really a sight when it's all lit up. By the way, if you have a digital camera, you can post pictures of it by loading them onto your computer first, then clicking the small tree icon at the top of the dialogue box when you type a reply to me. If you need further instructions on how to do it, let me know.

It looks like I will be home most of the day, if not all day. We are pretty slow at work right now. I do have one job that I may get to do today, but it's outside work, and it is 7 degrees here. So that may get delayed until this cold front moves on.

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