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chet
05-26-2009, 07:25 AM
Just got back from HD with cages and pvc pipe, gonna start on my mini-trees. Any advice, pointers, or warnings acepted.

Chet

animal
05-26-2009, 07:37 AM
Have fun!!!!!!

I'm adding more minis this year for a total of 24. I'm in the middle of building mine too. I haven't had the issues with them tripping the gfci so I didn't use the pvc. Click on the mini tree link on my web site just for more info is needed.


animal

http://www.pandschristmaslights.com/index_files/Page267.htm

planker
10-27-2010, 11:44 PM
This is my current dilema.... I made them this way last year, and they were blowing the gfci all the time when it was wet snow or rainy..... I also lost a few SSR due to back voltage either blowing the opto or the triac. So i am trying to find a economical way to make them of all plastic so they wont ground out and trip the breakers agian.

chris

rkhanso
10-28-2010, 12:02 AM
here's what I did, thinking it's help stop blowing GFI...
stuck re-rod in the ground - about 2' or I guess the real importance was to not let it get higher than the PVC that I slipped over it, just to support the PVC and keep it standing straight up.

Then, I took the long single ends at the top of the tomato cages and bent them down inside the tomato cage towards the ground (the peak/top of the tree), keeping them very close together so that,

I could put those bent over long wire parts at the peak of the tree into the top of the PVC (1.5 inch, from what I remember) and let gravity take hold and it would simply hang from the top of the PVC.

No part of the wire tomato cage was touching the ground in any way. The PVC was tall enough to keep the base of the cage up a few inches above the ground....but I guess the snow gets high enough to reach the tree. Anyway, didn't have a single one trip a GFI.

Sure, they would wiggle in a strong wind, but I didn't mind.

I'll try to find a picture. Aaahh, here they are:
http://rogerhanson.com/wp-content/gallery/christmas-light-stuff/small100_1928.jpg
http://rogerhanson.com/wp-content/gallery/christmas-light-stuff/small100_1925.jpg

Whatafreak
10-28-2010, 02:50 AM
Is the GFCI tripping a common problem with the tomato cage style mini-trees? I plan on building 7 this year and have 2 completed so far, but if I am going to experience circuit problems I'd like to know about it now rather than later, lol.

lakewood
10-28-2010, 08:14 AM
Hi whatafreak

All my mini-trees (12 x 3', 12 x 5' and 6 x 6') are tomato cage based and I live in Lakewood, Colorado with plenty of snow. Did not have any gfci's tripping. The metal cages are mounted on metal conduit that is pounded into the ground, but no problems.

-Robert.

dmcole
10-28-2010, 12:30 PM
Is the GFCI tripping a common problem with the tomato cage style mini-trees? I plan on building 7 this year and have 2 completed so far, but if I am going to experience circuit problems I'd like to know about it now rather than later, lol.

This is truly a "your mileage may vary" question ... some people get trips looking at their trees cross-eyed and others can't get a trip if they're sitting in puddles.

As I've said before, I had a commercial metal tree trip every night for my entire 2008 season, while my mini-trees were fine. But I wrap my mini-trees in clear plastic shipping wrap (aka non-food grade Saran Wrap) before I add the lights and the wires are insulated from the frame.

HTH.

\dmc

Hard2kill
10-29-2010, 01:12 AM
You could consider something like this all made of pvc , there is no metal of any kind anywhere.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeMHErpu01w

Russell

budude
10-29-2010, 01:59 AM
There's also Dirknerkles Hula-Hoop trees - http://doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7481

Whatafreak
10-29-2010, 05:29 AM
Thanks for the help, everyone.

I live in California's central valley. The distinct lack of precipitation of any kind during any part of the year is to my advantage, lol.

wonko
11-01-2010, 10:08 PM
I've made all my mini trees out of pressure treated deck boards. I rip pieces to about 1/2" x 1" (leave the thickness alone) and drill holes to fasten them together with wire ties. What I really like about it is the ability to staple the light strings to the tree, which is much cheaper than using zip ties. I've also made a few wrapped in shrink wrap which adds a little more "glow" and allows me to use fewer lights. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm all about spending as little $$$ as possible. I just made 4 new ones that only cost me $2.00 each which was the cost of 400 lights per tree. I've yet to trip a GFI...knock on wood.

txag2008
11-02-2010, 09:52 AM
made a few wrapped in shrink wrap
I've heard of people doing this using just kitchen cellophane (saran-wrap). I'm not sure if I understand the process. Are the frames wrapped with wrap then the lights on over? Or are the frames/lights wrapped after?

ctmal
11-02-2010, 10:58 AM
I just coated the bottom 2" with liquid electrical tape. Only tripped the breaker once when they were sitting in about 6" of water.

Hogfather
11-02-2010, 11:10 AM
If you plan to have multiple colors on your mini trees you may want to do what I did. I ziptied the strings together and then wrapped the "mega" string around the tree. It made wrapping much easier and more evenly distributed. Of course if a string goes bad, I'm in a world of hurt. :oops:

I'm considering strapping/zip-tying my mini trees to large steeping stones or blocks. This will give them off the ground and may deter people from walking off with them.

dmcole
11-02-2010, 04:13 PM
I've heard of people doing this using just kitchen cellophane (saran-wrap). I'm not sure if I understand the process. Are the frames wrapped with wrap then the lights on over? Or are the frames/lights wrapped after?

I use stretch packaging wrap (for illustrative purposes, not a recommendation: http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/444327/Office-Depot-Stretch-Wrap-Film-5/) which is far cheaper than food-grade wrap.

I first build my tomato-cage mini-trees per the instructions found here and elsewhere. Then I wrap the tree in packaging wrap to two or three thicknesses. Finally, I string the lights around, using zip ties to hold them to the wire of the tomato cages; the wire of the light string never touches the bare metal of the tomato cage.

As an added benefit, the light refracts and reflects and instead of 200 or 300 individual lamps, the entire tree glows.

HTH.

\dmc

txag2008
11-02-2010, 04:42 PM
So to use the zip-ties you have to poke holes in the wrap wherever you want to secure the lights? Is that correct?

dmcole
11-02-2010, 05:13 PM
So to use the zip-ties you have to poke holes in the wrap wherever you want to secure the lights? Is that correct?

Yes. I variously use a pocket knife or a sharp small screwdriver blade.

HTH.

\dmc

Jrd
11-05-2010, 12:29 AM
Why do the GFCI's trip? Are the mini lights always leaking voltage through the insulation? Or does the rain occasionally cause a short between the contacts in a light base and the mini tree?

dmcole
11-05-2010, 12:08 PM
Why do the GFCI's trip? Are the mini lights always leaking voltage through the insulation? Or does the rain occasionally cause a short between the contacts in a light base and the mini tree?

I'm not an electrician or electrical engineer, but my understanding is that rain combined with the metal frame causes the voltage to leak to ground just enough to have less electricity return on the neutral than leaves on the hot, which in turn causes the GFCI to trip. I believe we're talking milliamps here.

In my case, using the packaging shrink wrap to insulate the metal frame is enough to keep that leak from happening. Those who use non-metal frames get the same benefit.

YMMV.

\dmc

dnesci
11-05-2010, 01:57 PM
Every year this becomes a topic of discussion. dmcole is correct in his analysis. Rain is the enemy, once it snows and stays cold, the issue seems to go away. I use tomato cages covered by chicken wire. I like the way they keep their shape and they are very durable during set up and storage. To minimize (almost elimiate) the GFI issue, I have lined bottom of the cages with pipe insulation. The trees are achored to the ground with plastic zip ties that have screw mounts. The stake is metal, but the zip tie and insulation seems to stop the GFI issues.

I took the idea from WWWNF911. He describes the method at http://doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3455&highlight=gfi+mini+tree&page=6 post number 51.