The Trees

The only “traditional” Christmas lights in our display are used to wrap the two dwarf pine trees at the base of the living room window and to wrap the trunk and canopy of the large tree in the center of the front yard. There is also a single strand of traditional lights inside our Info Sign. All of these traditional lights are controlled by the relays in the bomb box.

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Here are our trees lit up. The 5 channels controlled by relays in the bomb box are the left pine, right pine, tree trunk, tree canopy, and info sign.

Each dwarf pine tree is wrapped with a single 58-foot strand (225 bulbs) of “warm white LED M5 lights”. These are the standard form factor you would expect to see on an indoor Christmas tree.

The canopy of the large tree in the front yard is “swirled” with 4 strands of “warm white LED C6 lights”. Each strand is 51.5 feet long and has 200 bulbs. We use a custom device that we invented to assist with placing the strands in the canopy…namely a long pole with a wrench taped to the end. The jaws of the wrench actually work pretty well to hold onto the strand until it can be deposited atop a branch.

All of these “warm white” LEDs were purchased from Home Depot during the after-Christmas clearance sales. These were the featured lights in 2015 for our first year of animating our house but have since taken a less significant role. Our only complaint with these lights is that “warm white” apparently means different things from strand to strand. There is a definitely a visual difference in color temperature between some of the strands. It’s not as noticeable when used on trees but it was fairly obvious when we used them on the house.

The trunk and various branches of the large tree are wrapped in 11 strands of multicolored LED lights (Martha Stewart brand, 16 feet and 50 bulbs per strand) that we also purchased on after-Christmas clearance. All of the plugs for these colored lights meet at the bottom of the tree and we use a stack of three-plug adapters and a metric ton of electrical tape to join it all together in a waterproof way and plug into the appropriate relay in the bomb box. Philip has also gotten creative at times and replaced electrical tape with saran wrap, which seems to work just as well and is less tedious than taping each connection individually.

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Using cling wrap and electrical tape to quickly waterproof a whole stack of connectors.