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View Full Version : Different motors / controllers for inflatables?



fillibar
01-04-2014, 09:52 PM
Has anyone replaced the motor in their inflatable with one that is more efficient, or added some intelligent control to theirs? I was looking at my wive's inflatables and wondering why they have to have their motor running full bore all the time. Once inflated it should be possible for them to slow down to a "maintaining" speed I would think. Anyone try doing anything like that?

On a similar note... she was given a new inflatable for Christmas. It is supposedly for outdoor use but has a DC motor with a wall wart to power that specifically states "dry location only" and is CLEARLY not meant for an outdoor outlet. Plus the cord from the wall wart to the motor is a whopping 2 feet long. I am definitely looking to replace this motor with a comparable AC version. I would rather use it as a trial for a more controlled inflatable but i do not want to "risk" her newest one to my tinkering.

timon
01-04-2014, 11:17 PM
Actually I'd stay with DC blowers and drive them from a DC controller.

Macrosill
01-05-2014, 09:41 AM
I have had to throw out inflatables in years past as I was never able to find a replacement motor for them that would actually fit. Things may have changed now. If you are really determined to change the motor I am sure you can do it. Keep us posted on your progress. Anyone who figures out how to save inflatables will surely be appreciated by the masses, I am sure of that.

timpwk
01-05-2014, 09:13 PM
I have switched out the DC motors for AC, mostly as I have had issues with the DC motors not having enough power to deal with the snow and cold temps. I usually can MacGyver a way to get the AC motor to fit, sometime using PVC pipe to run from the AC motor to the inflatable. So I am sure you can do it also!

As far as a "maintenance" speed I would be careful with that, I think you will find as the inflatables get older they tend to need more air to stay inflated, and after a time not stay fully inflated. You can find many threads on this issue. I have also noticed that on the cold nights (under 20 degrees) my inflatables have a harder time staying inflated.

Livermore-Dad
01-05-2014, 09:14 PM
I have switched out the DC motors for AC, mostly as I have had issues with the DC motors not having enough power to deal with the snow and cold temps. I usually can MacGyver a way to get the AC motor to fit, sometime using PVC pipe to run from the AC motor to the inflatable. So I am sure you can do it also!

As far as a "maintenance" speed I would be careful with that, I think you will find as the inflatables get older they tend to need more air to stay inflated, and after a time not stay fully inflated. You can find many threads on this issue. I have also noticed that on the cold nights (under 20 degrees) my inflatables have a harder time staying inflated.

And remember if they are fully inflated for more than 4 hours, one should seek medical attention.

sorry.
Tory :)

timon
01-06-2014, 03:31 PM
If you keep them reasonable close together you could use a master blower then interconnect them with plastic dryer exhaust venting.

fillibar
01-07-2014, 08:46 PM
I was more thinking about having a pressure sensor that is used by a controller. If the pressure starts to drop (as would happen when it gets cold, or older inflatables leak more) it would speed up the motor (up to the initial max).

I was debating about DC control but I really could not think of any scenarios for the inflatables other than on/off. Lights within them, sure, but not the motors. If I went DC it would more be because I could find more efficient / cost effective DC motors than AC ones.

The inflatables are on my list, but I just got sidetracked with a bathroom renovation delay... so it may be quite some time.

jmullan99
12-10-2014, 02:19 PM
Old thread, yes. But I haven't been a member that long!

I have used old hair dryers for my outdoor inflatables (as replacement blowers). I open them up, remove all guts except the motor, and drive the motor with a spare A/C wall wart. The motors tend to be lower voltage than the mains, with voltage dropped on a resistor. So, say, drive with a 13VAC supply. Naturally, lower voltage, lower speed.

Do whatever method you choose to hold the nozzle end of the new blower into your inflatable. Plug in the wall wart in whatever electrically safe way you choose.

I also break out the lighting circuit so I can control it separate. But I'm sure many on the forums have done that also.

fillibar
12-10-2017, 09:46 PM
I know I am resurrecting my own old thread... but... my wife keeps adding inflatables. Almost all of these new ones are running 12v DC motors and lights. Of course even she is complaining about the LEDs that come in them from the manufacturer so I have been able to replace some of those with brighter ones wired in. So far the motors are doing OK if a little underpowered. I have definitely had issues with power supplies though. Replaced 3 of them (she has 11 inflatables, 7 of the DC variety) with outdoor, waterproofed power supplies. I think I am going to be cutting off all of the ones they come with and replacing them with those, and waterproofed connectors. That way I can reuse the power for other projects the rest of the year.

So I have pretty much given up on changing out the motors, but I am definitely modifying these inflatables more.

therealdisneynt
12-16-2019, 04:36 PM
Any pics or videos of progress in this area? i am interested.

jimboha
12-19-2019, 03:40 AM
I only have a couple of inflatables and they only inflate for a few songs in the show. So they last longer - one is well over 10 years old... A little water-proofening helped it stay inflated better.

On the 12V powered fan-blowers - I am not happy with them at all. Woefully inadequate air, especially with snow, rain, or wind. What I have considered is this - drive them with higher voltage. Sure, you can burn them out eventually, but given that they are operated in the cold, you can probably get aware with, say, using 15v instead of 12V or even 18v. Put them on a DC controller/relay. Make sure to measure the current to understand the limits and requirements for the DC SSR.

I've got a Grinch inflatable that I'm going to over-power as soon as I get some spare time. He barely stands erect under inflation.

Jimboha

fillibar
12-20-2019, 08:01 AM
More and more of the inflatables are coming with 12V motors although my wife is picking up more of the small ones in the last couple years. We had 15 on display prior to yesterday. But two came down due to ice in those little motors. One is definitely dead, the other just needs the ice to thaw out before it can get going full again. This makes the first dead motor I have had with these. However, the power supply has failed MANY more times. I have replaced 4 of them already (out of 10, the other 5 are beefy AC blowers) and another is going so that is a 50% failure rate. I have been replacing them with 12V DC outdoor rated power supplies with a waterproof barrel plug that I wire in. Much easier to deal with.

I looked at the costs of replacement motors and if you want a "real" Gemmy one they are ~$15... but I found some really ugly Halloween inflatables for less than that so I am just going to scavenge those for parts instead.

There was a previous request for pictures after replacing lights... My website (https://www.drdsnell.com)has this year's pictures. Things like the Hello Kitty, Polar Bears (sledding and standing) and the Ladder all have added 12v LED lights (the ladder has an entire strip in it, it is really too bright). The LED replacement C9 bulbs have also worked well but those are scattered through the 5 AC inflatables (the big ones) so there really is no visual difference in the pictures (they are much brighter than they were).

I have purchased a bunch of ZigBee on/off relays that I plan on mounting INSIDE the AC inflatables going forward. That way I can just provide them power and control them remotely in case of high winds. Right now I am doing that with a more central control outlet and extension cords to each but I would prefer they be individually controlled directly.

fillibar
12-12-2021, 10:08 PM
Just a follow up on this for anyone that might be interested... Do not replace 12v DC winter inflatable blowers with Halloween inflatable blowers. They do not appear to have nearly enough strength to them to do the job after having had it running all last year. We kept having to "assist" the inflatable I had tried it with by clearing it off from even the lightest of snows and even then it still was always limp. I just replaced it this season with a blower from a sacrificial winter inflatable and it worked much better.

1pet2_9
12-14-2021, 08:54 PM
What does the holiday have to do with it?

fillibar
12-16-2021, 08:43 AM
In reality, the holiday itself does not matter. It is what type of motors the manufacturers use for the holiday that matters. Before this year I did not have access to many Halloween inflatables (my wife did not want them). But this year we got some AND we have neighbors that are now putting them up.

I had the one Christmas inflatable I had replaced a fan in the year before but did not think much of it until it struggled to inflate. I figured I just got a weak fan. But this year with access to more Halloween inflatables I found they all appear to be this way. The fans used have less power to them compared to the ones I checked for similar sized Christmas inflatables.

So is it really the holiday? No. It is what fans are used in the inflatable for a particular holiday. My bet (from what I have seen) is that the manufacturers use lower power (likely cheaper) fans for the Halloween ones because they are not going to have to deal with snow, ice, or as much rain (for warm winters).

1pet2_9
12-16-2021, 11:30 AM
Lower wattage; that makes sense. However, if they think they need less wattage because it's Halloween, I don't follow that. I deal with more rain, wind, and heat before Halloween. Daytime wind tends to blow the inflatable backwards & right on top of the fan intake.

I've got about 6 inflatables that don't light up. I figure, is it a priority? It's daylight at my house after the sun goes down. And I've got one inflatable with a failed blower motor that I've been eyeballing a $12 fan on Amazon for. Funnily, every time I look at those DC12V wall warts for the motors, I think, "If the inflatable ever goes out, I know exactly how to put that PSU to good use."

fillibar
12-18-2021, 10:29 PM
Overall I have had far more of the 12v DC power supplies fail than the fans. I have replaced them readily enough with outdoor rated 12v DC power supplies and have not had a problem with one of those since.

This year has already been a bit rough on the inflatables with some high wind damage and getting smothered under wet snow... definitely need to plan out some improvements to them for next year. Probably going to make some custom stands for them to be on to keep the motors clear unless the snow gets really deep. Not sure what else yet.