NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in parallel

A place to discuss all things involving power and technology (including cameras). Generator tips, alternative energy, lighting your camp/bike/art/self, sound systems and more.
Post Reply
tink2011
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:54 pm

NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in parallel

Post by tink2011 » Mon Jul 13, 2015 2:19 pm

Hi fellow awesome burners! I have used EL wire on my mutant vehicle for the last five years. This year I am switching all EL out for LED copper wire fairy light strands. Here's the link:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/10M-100-LED-Blu ... 1369&rt=nc


I cut the 12 volt adapter piece off and the strands light easily directly wired to a 12 volt deep cycle battery. Here's my question: I'm running at least 30 strands (maybe more) and would like to use one wire from battery for multiple strands (strands will be parallel, not series). That way I will only need 10 wires run from the busbar to the various areas on my mutant vehicle. Do I need to run each strand all the way back to the busbar, or can I use a splitter of some kind to lower the number of long runs back to my battery? I am likely going to need to parallel two deep cycle batteries in order to have enough power. Any advice would be SUPER AWESOME~

Sweet Alice

User avatar
Captain Goddammit
Posts: 8327
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 9:34 am
Burning Since: 2000
Camp Name: First Camp
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Jul 13, 2015 4:01 pm

Those are only 6 watts each, very low power. Yes, you can run a single power wire from your battery to a more convenient distribution spot.
At 12 volts, 6 watts draws half an amp. 30 of them would be 15 amps, so you'll want 12 gauge wire if you want to run it 25 feet, you can get away with 14 gauge wire for shorter distance. That's for all 30 strands at once.

When you split down to ten different wires, assuming you have three strands of light on each one, 18 gauge wire is fine.

Since you can really only use about half the rated capacity of a deep cycle battery, two of them ought to provide roughly 6 or 7 hours of light.
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."

User avatar
SnowBlind
Posts: 394
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 5:27 pm
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by SnowBlind » Mon Jul 13, 2015 4:05 pm

You can run one cable, and then hook several of these strands up to the same cable, as long as they are wired in parallel. The cable just needs to be thick enough for the load.

Looks like each strand would pull 0.5 Amp, so if you hooked ten strands to one cable, it would need to be able to supply 5 Amps. How thick it needs to be for a certain amount of Amps depends on the length of the cable. There are probably tables online where you can look the required thickness up based on Amps and length.

tink2011
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:54 pm

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by tink2011 » Mon Jul 13, 2015 4:09 pm

Thanks so much! Question, if I were to use the 12 guage wire and run it about 15 feet, exactly how to I attach a bunch of strands to it? I guess that's a stupid question, but I've never done it. I can't use another busbar, as that doesn't make sense for my application. Also, do you know how long it would take to recharge the 12 volts run in parallel? I have a EU2000i Honda genterator. I was thinking of buying a battery charger and plugging it into my 110V outlet on gennie, rather than using the 12 volt attachment that comes with it. How long will I need to recharge every day? THANKS!!!

maladroit
Posts: 2365
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:37 pm
Burning Since: 2012

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by maladroit » Mon Jul 13, 2015 4:57 pm

There are T-splices to solve that problem, but they really shouldn't exist...they'll slowly cut and weaken the wire at each splice point (if they work at all). It's better to strip a small section of the wire, wrap another wire around the exposed copper, solder it in place, then seal with heatshrink or self-fusing tape (not the generic black plastic tape, that's pretty useless stuff).

tink2011
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:54 pm

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by tink2011 » Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:20 pm

I have done lots of soldering and shrink tubing., so I'm pretty comfortable with that part. How many wires can you add to one larger wire to split to different areas? Can you just twist in and add, say, three to hot side and then three to the ground wire? So it would look like two forks? For some reason I thought you shouldn't do that. But, if it works, it would really be helpful.

Also, any ideas on how long I'd need to run a EU2000 Honda generator to charge up two paralleled 12V deep cycle batteries that were at 50%? Assuming I use a 20A battery charger plugged into the 110V outlet on gennie. Thanks in advance for the help.

User avatar
Captain Goddammit
Posts: 8327
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 9:34 am
Burning Since: 2000
Camp Name: First Camp
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:22 pm

Don't bother with the 12 volt battery charging terminals on the Honda EU2000. Those are a terrible way to charge batteries! It's a low-output circuit that will take forever, and it's unregulated, meaning that when your batteries do get full charged it'll just keep on going, overcharging them.

You definitely want to use a charger plugged into the generator's 120 VAC outlets.

How long will it take? That depends entirely on how big your charger is. Theoretically, a 15-amp charger will charge your batteries in the same amount of time you spent using them to run your lights... but there are a lot of real-world factors that mean it will probably take longer.

You'll want the most powerful charger you can get your hands on, which isn't super cheap. Another thing you can do is get two chargers, one for each battery, to speed things up.

When you see a "20 Amp Battery Charger", don't assume it's going to crank 20 amps into your battery whenever you hook it up. As the battery charges up, it will draw less charging current, and the process slows down.

The short answer is you'll charge pretty much all day.
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."

User avatar
Captain Goddammit
Posts: 8327
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 9:34 am
Burning Since: 2000
Camp Name: First Camp
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:24 pm

What sort of vehicle is your M/V? Can you charge off it's alternator while it's running?
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."

maladroit
Posts: 2365
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:37 pm
Burning Since: 2012

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by maladroit » Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:37 pm

tink2011 wrote:How many wires can you add to one larger wire to split to different areas? Can you just twist in and add, say, three to hot side and then three to the ground wire? So it would look like two forks? For some reason I thought you shouldn't do that. But, if it works, it would really be helpful.
It will hardly matter, as long as everything is the correct polarity. Electrically, parallel is parallel. Mechanically, some connectors (twist splices for example) are pretty bad for more than three wires, or dissimilar sized wires. To fork out the end of a large stranded cable to a lot of smaller ones, I'll often unravel several smaller bunches of strands and crimp a ring terminal on each. Then attach them all to one side of a terminal strip, leaving the other side to attach my smaller cables.

tink2011
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:54 pm

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by tink2011 » Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:48 pm

So, if I decide to run each single fairy light strand back to my Busbar, does the wire take much power? Would this be stupid because so many wires (30) will use enough power that it doesn't make sense?

tink2011
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:54 pm

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by tink2011 » Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:53 pm

Thanks for bringing up the alternator issue. My base car is an EZGO gasoline golf cart. I have the starter battery and then also plan a brand new deep cycle. I am not sure if my car has a true "alternator" but the starter battery stays charged and serves my kick ass stereo and headlights, so it must be charging. Can I run a second, deep cycle off the same alternator (or whatever you call it in a gas golf cart)? Would that alleviate the need for charging the deep cycle, or just help limit the drainage? I certainly don't want to be running my generator for 4 hours a day. I think my camp mates would kill me, plus, I also go out a lot during the daylight hours and don't want to be tied to camp. This could solve my problem if you think it'll work!

User avatar
Captain Goddammit
Posts: 8327
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 9:34 am
Burning Since: 2000
Camp Name: First Camp
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Jul 13, 2015 6:05 pm

Those carts have pretty small alternators but it would help.
I would use a battery isolator to separate your starting battery because you might still be draining power faster than you make it, and you don't want your starting battery to go dead.

If you or someone you know is reasonably handy, you could probably substitute a real car alternator on the thing. That's what I'd do.
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."

tink2011
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:54 pm

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by tink2011 » Mon Jul 13, 2015 6:16 pm

I need a mechanic! It's only a month plus to the burn! Anyone know anyone in Sacramento who would be up for the job of evaluating and maybe switching out my generator/alternator? I AM ABLE TO PAY CASH FOR THE JOB!

User avatar
Captain Goddammit
Posts: 8327
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 9:34 am
Burning Since: 2000
Camp Name: First Camp
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Jul 13, 2015 8:29 pm

If it makes you feel any better, I'm in just as much panic getting mine ready!!
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."

tink2011
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:54 pm

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by tink2011 » Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:28 am

Tis the season! How does Burning Man creep up on me every year? What is your mutant vehicle? Mine is an alien atop a space ship. I'll see you in the dust.

User avatar
Popeye
Posts: 713
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 10:39 pm
Burning Since: 2013
Camp Name: Beaverton
Location: Where the east wind blows

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by Popeye » Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:18 am

tink2011 wrote:So, if I decide to run each single fairy light strand back to my Busbar, does the wire take much power? Would this be stupid because so many wires (30) will use enough power that it doesn't make sense?
That's a pretty common piece of misinformation. Wire does not use power as long as is is heavy/ thick enough to carry whatever load you are putting on it. Power is used by our lights not the wire.
If I was doing this I would use wire nuts. There are to many piss poor, cheap, junky crimp type connectors out there. Even if they are well constructed people try to crimp them with the wrong tool and they fail. The number of wires, strip length, wire size, etc is written on the box. If you are worried about dust or water getting inside use the wire nuts rated for direct burial- they have silicone inside. Use a plastic tie to keep your wires secure.
Every light fixture in your house has a "heavy" # 12 or 14 wire connected to one or more about #18 wire. If it is put together properly it will not come apart.
If you try to reuse wirenuts they may fail, the spring inside stretches each time it is tightened. If your hand gets tired they make a socket for your battery drill to tighten the your nuts :D
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

tink2011
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:54 pm

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by tink2011 » Tue Jul 14, 2015 12:46 pm

It's funny you say that wire using power was a common misconception. I had a little sneaking feeling that was wrong.


Thanks for your advice. Quite invaluable!

User avatar
Popeye
Posts: 713
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 10:39 pm
Burning Since: 2013
Camp Name: Beaverton
Location: Where the east wind blows

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by Popeye » Tue Jul 14, 2015 5:24 pm

True story.
In the early '70s I was in the USAF in Turkey. A buddy living off base had dim and flickering lights in his rental. We grabbed some #12 romex and reran a few circuits which gave him good power. Lanlord found out and got pissed. Ranted and raved that the new wire was using more electricity. Landlord rewired using speaker wire, my buddy moved out and the house burned down. :cry: :cry: :twisted:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

User avatar
Captain Goddammit
Posts: 8327
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 9:34 am
Burning Since: 2000
Camp Name: First Camp
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by Captain Goddammit » Tue Jul 14, 2015 6:20 pm

that is just awesome :)
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."

mooserider
Posts: 251
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2015 12:45 pm
Burning Since: 2015
Camp Name: Philly Phreak Show
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by mooserider » Tue Aug 04, 2015 5:33 am

Ulisse wrote:True story.
In the early '70s I was in the USAF in Turkey. A buddy living off base had dim and flickering lights in his rental. We grabbed some #12 romex and reran a few circuits which gave him good power. Lanlord found out and got pissed. Ranted and raved that the new wire was using more electricity. Landlord rewired using speaker wire, my buddy moved out and the house burned down. :cry: :cry: :twisted:
Well, having heavier wire might have allowed the tenant to use more power, because it wasn't being lost in the thin wires. Was the landlord resident? Maybe he was pissed because his lights and what-not were dim because you were drawing more power from the thin service line, leaving less for him. :twisted:

Reminds me of when I was on a base in Turkey, with no commercial power, and the entire village outside the base was powered by an extension cord thrown over the fence from the base power plant. :-) I wonder if it was the same base.

User avatar
Popeye
Posts: 713
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 10:39 pm
Burning Since: 2013
Camp Name: Beaverton
Location: Where the east wind blows

Re: NEED HELP! Wiring LED copper fairy light strands in para

Post by Popeye » Tue Aug 04, 2015 12:33 pm

Wouldn't have been the same, he was at Incirlik outside Adana, we got down there when we could. I was on a mountain near Malatya.
apavlin wrote:
Ulisse wrote:True story.
In the early '70s I was in the USAF in Turkey. A buddy living off base had dim and flickering lights in his rental. We grabbed some #12 romex and reran a few circuits which gave him good power. Lanlord found out and got pissed. Ranted and raved that the new wire was using more electricity. Landlord rewired using speaker wire, my buddy moved out and the house burned down. :cry: :cry: :twisted:
Well, having heavier wire might have allowed the tenant to use more power, because it wasn't being lost in the thin wires. Was the landlord resident? Maybe he was pissed because his lights and what-not were dim because you were drawing more power from the thin service line, leaving less for him. :twisted:

Reminds me of when I was on a base in Turkey, with no commercial power, and the entire village outside the base was powered by an extension cord thrown over the fence from the base power plant. :-) I wonder if it was the same base.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

Post Reply

Return to “Power & Electronics”