View Full Version : Post Christmas Maintenance & Upgrades

01-04-2019, 09:02 PM
So now that the last of our inflatables has been brought down for 2018, I figured I might go over my take on what to do with them before storing them away for 2019. Maybe this will give people ideas or people can reply with their own recommendations. Either way I thought giving some of what I do, as I do it, might be useful to someone.

Sorry, no pictures tonight but hopefully I will remember to get more. We have 13 inflatables presently and I have only "finished" 2 of them so there is plenty of additional work.

Right now my maintenance routine is for non-electrical issues:
1) Take down the inflatable from outside.
2) Inflate in our garage for ~2 days to make sure it has completely dried out. This had to be done in stages (the last set of 5 is now in the garage) due to space.
3) After dry and brushed off for any debris (leaves, small sticks, & bugs) I move them down to my basement where I can do thing with more space.
4) Inflate them again for at least 24 hours in case there is any remaining moisture.
5) While inflated, examine for any holes or tears, and condition of the tether points.
6) In case of small holes in hidden places, I have been repairing with small patches of Gorilla tape (white) placed inside and out with at least an inch overlap around the hole. I have not had any BIG holes or tears yet.
7) For damaged tether points (we get fairly high winds at times) I remove the old tether and replace with new material. I bought a very heavy-duty white tether material, much heavier than any that have come with the inflatables, something like 100+yds off of Amazon last year. With heavy-duty tan thread I stitch the new tether in with at least 3 inches along the seam and across the old area. Much more then the originals although it is all by hand and fairly rough but I would rather it be over done than under.
8) Another inflation test to make sure everything held up I store them away in either kitty litter buckets (Tidy Cats are awesome) or Rubbermaid tubs depending on the size.

Upgrades/electric rework I have been performing:

Power has been the number one issue with inflatables, particularly with the small 12v DC ones. So I have been cutting off any damaged or even worn looking power cords from those and attaching waterproof 12v power supplies instead. All of them have been more powerful then the original wall adapters these come with, but I am generally putting a waterproof 2.5mm barrel jack on them also. This makes them more interchangeable and hopefully easier to deal with in the future. It definitely fixes their current power issues and makes it easier to run power to them overall.
12v DC inflatable square light replacements. The little tiny LED squares included inside these rarely seem to be very bright and in most case they seem to wear out quickly. I have been splicing in 12v DC waterproof LED modules (they have 3 LEDs encased in an ~3" long rectangular housing). Then I either attach those over the existing dead LED (they have double sided tape on the underside) or stitch them to a seam (they also have a small hole meant for a mounting screw). I picked up ~20 of these LED modules last year, they are meant for automotive purposes mainly, but this year I found a deal and ordered another 200 for ~$30... so I should be set with them. They are substantially brighter and do not draw substantially more power. Depending on the size of the inflatable I have been adding 3 or more spread across wherever it makes sense.
12v DC inflatable LED light strips. 3 of our inflatables are fairly long/tall. One is a ladder with a small Santa and elves climbing it. The other 2 are Christmas trees. While these each have scattered LED squares in them I plan on putting full white LED strips running through them. In the Christmas trees I will likely press the strips so they are double sided (in case they twist inside, there will always be light almost all around) and then attach the middle at the top of the tree. For the ladder I will run the strip up on side and back down the other. Have not tried these yet, my biggest concern is with the trees and if the weight of the strip will cause issues inflating. Obviously I will try it out before making any permanent changes.
AC interior lights. These are a different problem from the 12v ones. Obviously being AC I cannot as easily toss in individual LED strips or such and I really do not want to build in a separate power supply. These also vary more in how lighting is down and the layout, they are also generally bigger. An advantage is that so far they all have MOST of their interior lighting done by C7 incandescent bulbs. These generally seem dim and overly warm in color. I found a couple different varieties of LED replacements online. One is an almost exact warm-looking replacement although it is brighter. It is also more "normal" looking like the C7 bulbs and fits within the protective housings without any trouble. The other two are cool white, much brighter, and encased on clear silicone rubber material. So they are brighter and tougher but one is a bit long for some of the protective cases. My plan this year is to finally eliminate all the incandescent bulbs and replace them with the LED versions.
Last item for now, AC exterior lights. A couple of the inflatables have exterior lights meant to look like old C9 Christmas lights (one like a normal string, one like icicle lights). But their little plastic casings break or get dented and just do look that good, plus the small lights inside make them dim. These have been replaced with standard LED strings (and icicle strings) I have. I chopped off the end of the wire leading out from inside the inflatable and put a female plug on it instead. Then I attached the normal LED string and tied it off to the tether points that the previous lights used. So now I have ones that look just like our house or other decorations (because they are), use easy-to-replace bulbs, and can be extended easily now that there are normal plugs in place.

That's it for now. I hope to add a couple pictures of the work I have done.

01-06-2019, 08:00 PM
where did you get the c7 led's, i have tried a couple before but were not too bright. I would like to change mine over to led's too

01-07-2019, 05:51 AM
where did you get the c7 led's, i have tried a couple before but were not too bright. I would like to change mine over to led's too

Look for this type of thing:
LED corn cob bulbs (https://www.ebay.com/itm/18W-E27-LED-Corn-Light-Bulb-5730-SMD-56Leds-650lm-Bulb-Lamp-110V-220V-Lights/292685343383?_trkparms=aid%3D555018%26algo%3DPL.SI M%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20131003132420%26meid%3D0d35883 a38834e98b7f75af681f5fef3%26pid%3D100005%26rk%3D6% 26rkt%3D12%26sd%3D192723564582%26itm%3D29268534338 3&_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851)

Once you pull this one up, it will provide links and ideas for others.
Make sure to find the right base - E14 I think, but check to make sure,. Also watch for dimmable if desired.

They are a little heavier than regular than a C7, but much brighter. I have replaced the c7's in my Santa inflatable and now he's practically nuclear glowing.


01-07-2019, 09:37 AM
I bought mine off Amazon. I picked up 3 varieties at the time to try them out. Having trouble finding the exact ones (it was a couple years ago) but I did find one:

That one is a touch long, but does fit in the plastic shells. They are the brightest of the three I got, with a cool white color. One of the other two looked similar, but shorter, and was basically the same color just not as bright. There appear to be newer ones that are better than this now (and the price is more than I would pay) but they have held up well.

The third variety was one that looked like a plain clear C7 bulb. It even has a glass casing. But the "filament" is a straight line of LED. These are a mixed item in my opinion. The glass breaks easily so they NEED the shell. They have exactly the same color as an incandescent though (plus and minus depending on application) but were brighter (and of course use less power).

As jimboha also posted an alternative, there are many options out there. The main thing I would say is, if you can, get a couple different ones and see what looks best for your needs. On our inflatables, some spots need a really bright cool white... But some spots do not look good with that (too bright) or they need a warmer color because they are brown or such. So try a couple out and see which looks best to you. Lighting is very subjective.

Case in point, I tried putting LED strips in the trees that I mentioned. I thought the look was good, they inflated fine, and it really brightened them up. But my wife (all inflatables are HERS or my girls) said it looked too much like a post was in it, too straight and solid looking. So out went that idea.

01-07-2019, 07:38 PM
Yes, I had to search around and order many 'samples'. Not samples per se, but single bulbs of different varieties. Then I was able to place a larger order of the ones I liked (right size, right base, desired color, dimming, weight, price etc.) . Make sure to include plenty for extras for a spares - at least on eBay and likely Amazon it is difficult to find the SAME model (for the same or different vendor) later.