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Thread: ISO HW Recommendations: Outdoor LED lighting for retaining wall and fence

  1. #1
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    Default ISO HW Recommendations: Outdoor LED lighting for retaining wall and fence

    Hello Xmas light peeps, I'm hoping you can help me built an excellent looking fence with built in lights. Here is the fence design I like. The lights are under the top rail and aim downward.

    Question #1: Is it crazy to consider using a falcon controller and WS2812B pixels for the lighting to be shining white all year around (at night) or should I go with something more robust like rope lighting? I like the idea of being able to incorporate these lights into my yearly Christmas light display, but I'm not sure how reliable they would be.

    Question #2: My fence is two sections, split by the gate to my front door and each side is approximately 40-50 feet in length. My plan was to power the light strings from each end and break the whole thing up into 8 foot increments for each fence panel, routing the wire through each post. That makes it easier for me to replace a section if it goes bad If I used 12v lights do you think the lights will be able to reach the whole length? Or would I need to hassle with running a extra wire to the other end of both 45 foot runs so I can inject power from both ends of both sections?

    Question #3: Is there a good waterproof connector you'd recommend for each section? I've mostly used Ray Wu xConnect waterproof pigtails, but they are a bit large to be able to tuck up behind the LED light strips. I'm not sure where I can hide such a bulky connector.

    Question #4: I'm considering just using some standard WS2812B strips wrapped in the standard rubber sleeve. Is there a better LED light solution that might be more reliable? I see Ray has some new LED designs like Neon tube, etc.

    I appreciate any helpful replies, -=Steve

  2. #2
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    Default Re: ISO HW Recommendations: Outdoor LED lighting for retaining wall and fence

    My only concern for you is that this type of fence "option" may not be legal so please check with your building codes office where you live to make sure that it will be allowed.

    I had a fellow builder here put up a fence similar to this but it used galvanized wire to make the spindles (upright pieces) for the fence. The building code here would not allow it so he had to eat the cost and redo the fence.

    I would be suspicious of this design as it lets the lower pipe slide over and out which is a code violation (here) as the pieces must be secured and not movable per code. Also, this type of fencing is bad for small animals like cats and small dogs as they could get their heads caught in it.

    Have to remember that someone can design anything they want but you have to make sure it is code compliant for where you live.

    On the lighting side of things, I would not use strips as they are tough to fix although I see you mention replacing things by section which would make any repairs a bit easier but strips fail quicker than regular pixels as well. If you are using strips, I would recommend that you use IP68 strips that would be encased in silicone sleeve to help get the best lifespan you can. Most folks are using regular pixels or for this project I would say the square backed ones and encasing them in some form of weatherstriping like PEX tubing or you can find aluminum moulding with a clear or frosted cover for more permanent installations that look and work very nicely and would also allow you to use a small box on the post to have as a junction point to connect wiring and for removal of a section if needed and it would be a designed in feature as well. I have used the moulding in kitchens for under cabinet lighting and it looks and works great.

    Rope light would be a big NO. I have used it before with bad results as far as lifespan, the tubing yellowing with short age time, and of course it is totally non-repairable (for the most part). Stay away from it unless you like working on it a lot!

    Depends on your choice of pixels or whatever as to the power needs for injection or not so tough to answer that yet.

    A lot of people including me use the automotive style weatherproof connectors nowadays such as the Delphi connectors although there are quite a few options to chose from depending on your design.

    Depending on whether or not you want to incorporate these lights into a show can influence your choice as to a controller or just a cheap lighting controller that would allow some colors and/or dimming for the lights. If you are going to use them though it makes sense to allow yourself the option of having them controlled remotely as well as allowing color combinations, sweeps, and different effects as long as you are going to install them.

    Not a lot of help with my answers perhaps but always good to think things out for a bit so that you can get the most bang for your buck as well as a sharp looking installation that you will be proud of and happy with for a long time.

    Bill

  3. #3
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    Default Re: ISO HW Recommendations: Outdoor LED lighting for retaining wall and fence

    Quote Originally Posted by szaske View Post
    Question #1: Is it crazy to consider using a falcon controller and WS2812B pixels for the lighting to be shining white all year around (at night) or should I go with something more robust like rope lighting? I like the idea of being able to incorporate these lights into my yearly Christmas light display, but I'm not sure how reliable they would be.
    This is a perfect application for the ESPixelStick. In addition to driving way more pixels than you have, it ties into your home automation, allowing you to easily change the color of the strips for special occasions.

    Quote Originally Posted by szaske View Post
    Question #2: My fence is two sections, split by the gate to my front door and each side is approximately 40-50 feet in length. My plan was to power the light strings from each end and break the whole thing up into 8 foot increments for each fence panel, routing the wire through each post. That makes it easier for me to replace a section if it goes bad If I used 12v lights do you think the lights will be able to reach the whole length? Or would I need to hassle with running a extra wire to the other end of both 45 foot runs so I can inject power from both ends of both sections?
    Two pixel sticks. You will most likely need to inject no matter what. Bury landscape wire behind the fence and inject at each post. Mount a small box at the top ov each post and use it to enclose your connection and power injection. Running a pipe up from ground level to the box will hide the power wires.

    Quote Originally Posted by szaske View Post
    Question #3: Is there a good waterproof connector you'd recommend for each section? I've mostly used Ray Wu xConnect waterproof pigtails, but they are a bit large to be able to tuck up behind the LED light strips. I'm not sure where I can hide such a bulky connector.
    A cheap JST with corrosion X does just fine. Never have water problems when using corrosion-X. You could use a slightly better connector and still fit it into a small to220 (or smaller) box.

    Quote Originally Posted by szaske View Post
    Question #4: I'm considering just using some standard WS2812B strips wrapped in the standard rubber sleeve. Is there a better LED light solution that might be more reliable? I see Ray has some new LED designs like Neon tube, etc.
    WS2812 and higher: Run, dont look back. Bad... (end soapbox). I suggest using the WS2811 base 3:1 strips in a silicon tube (reseal the ends of the tube before installing). These will give you much better reliability and cost less.

    Martin


    2020 Full sized show reworked for the new location. Only adding (famous last words) 13 RBLs that I finally got converted to using pixels
    2019 - Just moved into a new home (yet another change of plans). Will be dim but not dark. Too much to do at the new place to leave time for a show. Dim show (3000 pixels) had regular visits most nights.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyX...ttrsZNARkUce0Q

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    Default Re: ISO HW Recommendations: Outdoor LED lighting for retaining wall and fence

    If you are going to go with strips, you should use the type that is epoxy filled inside the tube. They are far more durable. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32865930638.html They're hard to install, and hard to service, but that's what makes them very durable.

    You might also consider installing them into aluminum channel to prevent anything from coming in contact with the strip. I suppose you could skip the aluminum and just cut a dado into the underside of the railing to recess the strips. The key here is to protect them from touching and impact.

    Another option that would be easier to service over the long haul would be using pixel modules. This page will show you a lot of the various options out there. (not all are pixels or RGB) The rectangle modules tend to be very durable and since they're connected together with wire, it's easier to repair than strips.

    Since it's on the underside of the rail, they're not going to get water falling directly into them, or sitting on them to freeze. They're also not going to be in direct sunlight. So those are all the biggest culprits to early failure. You should get a reasonable life out of them. Just make sure they're protected from impact and tampering.

    I wouldn't use connectors at all. I'd just splice them to lead wires directly. There's no need for a disconnectable connector since they're permanently installed.

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    Default Re: ISO HW Recommendations: Outdoor LED lighting for retaining wall and fence

    Quote Originally Posted by beeiilll View Post
    I would be suspicious of this design as it lets the lower pipe slide over and out which is a code violation (here) as the pieces must be secured and not movable per code.
    I don't understand what you mean by "lets the lower pipe slide over and out. I didn't mention where I was considering running the wire, but my preference would be to run it the distance of the fence under that top rail and along my LED strip...most likely behind it. Can you elaborate?

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    Default Re: ISO HW Recommendations: Outdoor LED lighting for retaining wall and fence

    Quote Originally Posted by jchuchla View Post
    I'd just splice them to lead wires directly
    I guess that would work, just using twist on connectors you use for electrical wiring? Wouldn't it need to be weatherproof?
    Last edited by szaske; 01-23-2020 at 03:28 AM.

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    Default Re: ISO HW Recommendations: Outdoor LED lighting for retaining wall and fence

    Quote Originally Posted by szaske View Post
    I don't understand what you mean by "lets the lower pipe slide over and out. I didn't mention where I was considering running the wire, but my preference would be to run it the distance of the fence under that top rail and along my LED strip...most likely behind it. Can you elaborate?
    Might just be a case of "my bad" but it looked like the lower hole in the 6x6 post was meant to allow that lower pipe to slide out of the 6x6 but it could have meant that it just allows the pipe to slide back and forth some without allowing it to come out all the way after everything is assembled. So I will err on the side of being wrong about this one! Sometimes they are making the holes deeper on one side so that you can insert each "panel" into the posts AFTER the posts are set which would mean that the section could actually be taken out later on if you wanted too. THAT was my concern since it would be against building code if the panel could come out by someone pushing it to one side. It is not against code to have it be installable after the posts are set in place but if would have to be secured so that it could NOT be removed without having to remove some form of pins or screws that would keep it in place firmly. Hope that clears it up for you.

    IF you really want a way to hide the wires, I have drilled down through 6x6 posts using a 5 foot bit and run wiring up through the posts into lights that were mounted on the top of the posts before. It is not for the faint of heart though and takes some skill and checking often while drilling to get the holes to be where you want them. In this case, you could stop the hole coming up though at the point where the "two halves of 5/4x6 deck board" are mounted and drill into the 6x6 at that point to get the wires out to whatever lights you are going to use. Or another method is to cut a dado slot up the post and then use a wood "cap" to cover the slot after the wire is run. This is a common method here to run wires for lights on posts unless you want to run conduit up the post to a termination box. I like the hidden effect of wiring myself so I do things to hide wiring as much as I can. You could just drill through the 6x6 and run your wiring along side the lights that through the 6x6's along the distance of the fence and then use conduit or another method to hide the wires where you have to go off the fence either down or sideways to get to power or your data signal. Only thing about running data and power side by side is the interference that you might get which is why I would keep power and data separate if possible.
    I agree that you probably don't need junction boxes and would just splice the wires to the pixel or whatever lights I was going to use with heat shrink. If using like the diagram, you could leave yourself an extra bit of wire up under those deck board halves in case you needed to take the lights down and replace something.

    As a side note, they make caps for 6x6 and 4x4 that you can get to make things a bit simpler for construction. I used the prefab caps a lot on deck additions when I was building. Lowes or Home Depot used to carry them all the time although I have not gotten any in the last few years.
    Last edited by beeiilll; 01-24-2020 at 08:55 AM.

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