AWDK's 2001 16,000+ X-mas lights ... or is it Christmas lights? ;-)

2001 xmas lights

See more Pictures at the bottom of this page and check out the latest outdoor Christmas decorations

Wellllllll ... Alek decided that 12,000 lights from X-mas 2000 wasn't quite enough ... so he waited until a week after X-mas last year, and then (unknown to Wendy) hit the 75% and especially 90% off sales hard - came back with a whole trunk of christmas lights for $30!

Wendy came up with the centerpiece idea - the giant lighted X-mas tree ... and Alek put it all together (with help from Wendy, 3-year old Dirk (who REALLY enjoyed this) and even some help from 9-month old Kyle (who loves to crawl all over the christmas lights).

You may recall last year that balancing the amperage was quite a challenge. Plus I had some of these under X-10 auto-control, but could not do it with all of 'em (still ended up smoking box). So over the course of the year, I installed a few extra outlets and X-10'ed (at the outlet - rated at the full 15 amps) 'em all plus added some GFI's as needed. So far, I've only had one christmas light string fuse (3 Amp'er) blow and a 7-amp fuse on an extension cord that I didn't know was fused.

So all 16,200 christmas lights (except for the indoors ones) are auto-controlled and start snapping on at 4:30 in the evening, and going off at 10:00. An even cooler (nerdier?) trick is using the X-10 remote control to make 'em go on-an-off for the kids ("make the X-mas tree come back"). BTW, this turns out to be pretty handy also when you are deploying 'em for testing purposes. Hint: ALWAYS have your lights plugged in and ON when laying 'em out, so you know right away if something goes out.

Here is the breakdown of how they are deployed with data from a multi-meter:

X-10#   Web Control   Outlet         GFI              FUSE           Amps   Lights    Description
 2      Xmas/2002     Garage         NO GFI (!)       Garage         12.1    3,300    East driveway, lower icicles, downstairs bell lights
 2      Xmas/2002     Lower Deck     Kitchen          Kitchen        12.0    3,200    Tree!!!
 3      Xmas/2002     Upstairs       Master Bedroom   M-B lights     11.8    3,000    Upstairs icicles, roof, red cloud, upstairs novelties, upstairs bell light
 3      Xmas/2002     Upper Deck     Basement         Basement       11.5    3.200    Junipers and misc.
 4      Xmas/2002     Gas Meter      Bathroom         Bathroom        9.8    3,300    Fence wraps and Chasers
N/A                   Scary Room     NO GFI           Living/Dining   1.0      200    Downstairs novelties

TOTALS                                         58.2   16,200 (approximate ;-)

As implied above, I will "web-enable" the lights for next year ... so bookmark this web page ... 
as next year, you will be able remotely toggle sections of the lights - i.e. turn 'em ON & OFF! ;-)

Note: I was initially puzzled why the Gas Meter outlet reading was less power/bulb;
but turns out the Chasers being on a pattern draws a little less power.
I measured it at 0.14 amps less per 150 light string.

BTW, Wendy isn't allowed to plug in the hair dryer at night except if
she uses an outlet from the guest bedroom downstairs. And while running
the clothes dryer recently, we were about to fire up the stove and oven;
so I turned the clothes dryer off so the total house draw wasn't too high.
Wendy suggested turning off the X-mas lights ... no way!!!!   ;-)

So the total current draw is just under 60 amps, compared to last years 45 or so. This works out to 7 KiloWatts! So suffice to say that the power meter spins like mad when I turn 'em all on. And since I leave 'em on from 4:30-10:00PM, that's almost 40 KiloWatt-Hours a day, times times about 25 days is about a MegaWatt-Hour. Would you like to pay my electrical bill for me?!? ;-)

Oh yeah, a "few" extension cords were needed to tie this all togather - a total of 32 cords totalling 487 feet (2-50', 3-25', 15-15', 3-12', 9-9', and a half dozen or so 3-1 plugs).

So ... if you happen to be flying into DIA, take a look down about 30 miles West/NorthWest and you might see it all. To quote the Griswalds from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Alek will cry "if one burns out, they all burn out" ;-)

Email Santa and let him know what you think! ;-)

P.S. This picture was shot with a Nikon 990 Digital Camera (3+ Mega-pixels with lots of nice features) which was leading edge for consumer digicams last year, but still pretty nice ... although this is a tough shot since the contrast between dark and lights is quite a bit and I went for an under-exposed look this year in order to not wash out the lights as much. But you get the idea!

BTW, the top picture is actually a composite/merged picture of two different shots - see if you can tell where it is joined (hard to do IMHO).

Closeup of the tree and the view looking East & West




Candy Canes, Reindeer/Santa, & Soldier ... plus one of the red bells

reindeer           bell