In the past few years a new Christmas trend has spread far and wide with homeowners designing their own musical Christmas light shows, and people all across the world have taken notice. In fact for three years now the ABC show The Great Christmas Light Fight has celebrated the design and technical prowess of these homeowners in front of a nationwide audience.
Of course, as more homeowners try their hand at these displays more homeowners want to give it a try themselves. However, with all the precision and intricacy involved in these displays it’s easy to grow discouraged and give up on what could become an amazing new holiday tradition. That’s why we’ve put together a very cursory introduction for how you can turn your home into the talk of the town this Christmas season.
Step 1: Know Your Design
The light displays you’ll see in viral videos online are enormous and incredibly complex because they were constructed and operated by homeowners who have been working on them for years. Don’t plan on your home looking like the Griswold’s this first year. Instead plan on a few, high impact points on your home’s front face or in the landscaping to test your design and programming skills this year to get a better feel for the project for next year.
Step 2: Find the Right Controller System
The strings of lights you have are very simple in design. They’re a series of LEDs which rely on one power source to tell them when to go on and go off. That’s why some strings will malfunction completely when a single bulb goes out. Until all these separate strings of lights are connected to a shared controller, however, it won’t be possible to coordinate the way they light. There are a number of different light show controller options including complete DIY kits, but to make this control work as simple as possible it’s best to go with a pre-assembled and engineered control system from companies like Light-O-Rama or Animated Lighting.
Step 3: Get Your Sequencing Software
Once your lights are connected to a central controller, sequencing software is what allows you to sync your installed lights to the music you have in mind. This is a fairly simple though quite tedious task as the software of companies like Light-O-Rama breaks your chosen songs down into segments that are often less than a second long so that you can individually program which lights perform which actions during that time frame. This doesn’t mean that your home is simply divided into your roof, your siding, your windows, etc. Instead, each separate string of lights needs to be programmed individually to achieve the effects that you’re interested in.
Step 4: Testing, Maintenance, and Power
Once you’ve finished all of your sequencing, your work is largely over aside from occasional tests and maintenance planning. Whatever size display you designed for your home, dependable access to power, reliable adherence to the programming you did, and basic care for all the components involved will ensure that you don’t have any frustrating breakdowns throughout the season. Additionally, this step makes it possible to assess for places to improve and expand in the year ahead!