Where is your house?
We are located in Broomfield, Colorado, in the suburbs north of Denver. The address is 5061 Yates Circle if you want to come see our show in person.
When does the show run?
We typically run our display for the entire month of December (barring any technical issues). The first show typically starts at dusk (5pm) and we run until at least 10pm (sometimes later on weekends).
How much money have you spent on Christmas lights?
After 6 years, we are at about $4500 total cost. In our first year of pixel lighting, we spent about $1750 total on the entire setup. The new elements we added in year 2 (2017) added about another $1250 to the total. Years 3 and 4 each added about $550. In year 6 (2020), we added the LED pixel screen to the garage door at a cost of about $400, most of which was for the pixels themselves. Fortunately, the cost should be much less going forward unless we decide to add some major new elements to the display.
How much time have you put in?
We estimate that we have put about 1300 hours into our Christmas light display thus far over the past years, though it is hard to keep an accurate count. Now that we have the majority of the hardware constructed, future years will hopefully be a smaller time commitment that is mostly limited just to the creative aspects of assembling the music and sequencing the light show.
Why in the world do you spend so much time and money doing this?
Short answer: WE LOVE CHRISTMAS!
Long answer: We are two engineers who love LED lighting and want to use our skills to make something beautiful for others to enjoy. Christmas is an amazing time of year when we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We hope our show spreads a little Christmas joy and helps remind people of why Christmas matters. Check out the Share the Joy page if you want to help us with that pursuit.
What do you do for work?
We are both engineers by training: aerospace engineering for Philip and structural engineering for Rose. These days, Phil works at a satellite imagery company and Rose runs the civil engineering lab at a local university.
How long does it take to put up the lights each year?
Because of how we mounted the pixels to metal rails, it is actually pretty easy to put them up on the house. A long Saturday is sufficient for pulling the lights out of the basement, testing them, mounting them to the house, and running all the cabling. Setting up the yard takes a few extra hours, though the new snowmen make that a lot faster than it used to be.
How long does it take to sequence a new show?
We probably spend about 10 hours or so putting together the music (mostly Philip) and then another hour or two fine tuning transitions.
Sequencing the lights can vary greatly depending on the section of music but a rough estimate of 6 hours (mostly Rose) of sequencing per minute of show is pretty close. Once the first cut of the show is complete, we typically spend several evenings testing it out on the house and tweaking the sequence.
How much does it cost to run your show? Do you pay a fortune to the electric company?
Our show actually takes very little electricity to run. All of our lights are LEDs, which are very energy efficient. Also, because of the sequencing, most of our lights at any given time are actually not on. We estimate it costs about 10 dollars to run for the entire season, which is probably less than most people who just have a handful of light strings plugged in for 8 hours every night.
Why don’t you have any “leaping light arches” that are common in many other shows?
Short answer: Rose doesn’t like them.
Long answer: Rose doesn’t like them and Philip likes when Rose is happy 😉
Okay, what about a pixel screen or megatree?
2020 UPDATE: We added a pixel screen to the garage door.
The biggest downside of these types of elements is that they take a lot of pixels and that gets expensive. We have also seen that most people who have pixel screens or mega trees tend to get less creative with their sequencing and more and more the focus just becomes on putting images or video across the screen. Our hope is that we can use our pixel screen tastefully while still allowing the lights highlighting the architecture of the house to be the focus of our shows.
How do you split up all the work that goes into putting a light show together?
Philip is the muscle and does most of the work related to putting the lights on the house and in the yard and crawling around on the roof/attic. He is also the expert in all things electronics so has done the vast majority of the soldering and configuration of pixel controllers and things like that. Most of the work on putting together the music for shows comes from Philip as well as writing all of the content on this website.
Rose is the creative brains when it comes to making new elements become a reality and has an amazing ability to visualize an idea and figure out how to build it in the real world. Most importantly, Rose does the vast majority of the light sequencing for the shows (a task that usually consumes about 50 hours in the month of November) and has a patience for that often tedious process that Philip can only dream of.
When building new elements, we tend to work together throughout the process. For example, the construction of the new Snowmen Army: Attempt #2 was a fun project with Philip doing most of the repetitive labor, but Rose helping at key points to figure things out, design templates, work on the prototype, and (most importantly) serve as quality control 🙂
I want to build my own light show. How do I get started?
Check out our How It All Works page to learn all about how we built our elements and each of the pieces of our display. It is laid out roughly in chronological order of how we went about creating what you see. Once you have read that material, feel free to contact us with additional questions and we will do our best to provide helpful answers.
Do I need to be an engineer to have my own light show?
Definitely not! Being “handy” has been far more helpful in this adventure than any technical education. If you like to solder (or are willing to learn), can troubleshoot problems in a logical way, and have way more time on your hands than you know what to do with, then jump in!
There are also different levels of “DIY” with Christmas lights. We are pretty high up on the DIY list with our display (both the electronics and the hardware) but there are systems available for those that want something more plug-and-play. You will pay more but it might take a lot less time to get up and running.
I really love what you do and want to help support you. What can I do?
Check out our Share the Joy page to see some ways you can contribute. While we don’t take any donations directly, we would be honored if you would donate to a cause we care about (or one you care about, for that matter). And tell other people about the show so they can come enjoy as well.
Do you have any other blogs or websites?
Yes we do! We love to travel and keep a detailed blog wherever we go. You can find that one at theglobaltraveler.wordpress.com.
Can I hire you to do a Christmas light show for my house or business?
Contact us and let’s talk. We both have full time jobs and a toddler so it isn’t something we have really thought about doing beyond just for our own house. That said, if you are really serious, let’s have a conversation and see what comes about.