(Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Thanks for the display! Can we give you anything? Perhaps some money to help with the electric bill?
A: (No, we’re not being vain. We actually get comments like this quite often.) As you’ll read below, the electric bill is not a problem. Additionally, we aren’t doing the display to get stuff. If you really want to give something back in appreciation, please consider making a donation to the Wilton Food Pantry.
Q: What are the names of the songs in your display?
A: Most of our songs are heavily edited for time and content, but here is a general list from Christmas 2011/2012:
- THX Intro (from one of Pixars movies)
- Welcome To The Big Show – Jock Jams
- Reflections of Earth (First & Last Movement) – Gavin Greenaway (this is from Epcot’s nightly fireworks show)
- Wizards In Winter – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- Forget You Santa – Voicedude Mashup from Santastic V (Note – We edited it even more so it was more family friendly. The original is NOT safe for kids!!!)
- Deck The Rooftops – Glee (First Christmas Album)
- Amazing Grace – Yule
- Joy To The World – Go Fish
- Jingle Bells – Barenaked Ladies
- Do you Hear What I Hear – Spiraling
- Sugar Plum Groove – MX47
- Christmas / Sarajevo 12/24 (Carol of the Bells) – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- Silent Night – Cinnamon
- Happy Birthday Jesus – Barenaked Ladies
Q: How much power does the display use?
A: The display can draw more than 90 amps of power (as of 2010/11). It is run off of 8 circuit breakers dedicated to the lights. Each item in the display is inventoried in a spreadsheet so we know exactly how much power it draws, where it is plugged in, and what else is on that same circuit. The lights are programmed with these figures in mind so as not to overwhelm any of the circuits and cause it to overheat or trip. The gauge of the extension cords running from the house to the relays are chosen specifically to meet the needs of each section of the display. With this many lights, safety is a big concern.
Q: What does this do to your electric bill?
A: Very little, at least compared to our old static display. Seriously. Because the lights are animated, they are very rarely all turned on at the same time. In 2009 when we went from a 15 amp static display to a 60 amp animated display we actually saved $10 in elecricty for the season. Electricity is a very minor cost relative to the equipment expenses and time we put in to the display. Our electric bill is slightly higher than usual while the display is running, but because we are on a budget plan with CMP it is evenly spaced over 6 months.
Q: How does it work?
A: Do you ask a magician how their trick works? We didn’t think so. Limited information on this can be found on the “Techincal” page, but the short answer is that our computer sends pre-programmed commands to banks of dimmable electrical relays (triacs) from Light-O-Rama at the same time it plays back the music.
Q: How do you make the big tree “spin”?
A: All of the lights on the “mega tree” are divided in to sections and plugged in to seperate electical relays. By turning each section on and off in the right order, we can produce a chasing effect which looks like spinning.
Q: How do you make the big tree “sparkle”?
A: The “mega tree” is filled with miniature strobe lights. We’ll be adding more every year.
Q: How do you get the music in to our car?
A: We use a 100 milliwatt FM transmitter which is turned down in order to operate in accordance with section 15 of the FCC rules and regulations. We use 96.9 FM because there are no other stations in our area on that frequency.
Q: How long does it take to put this together?
A: We’d rather not talk about it. The animation sequencing is probably the most time consuming part. We start planning for next year before Christmas the previous year. In order to keep costs under control we obtain equipment during the after Christmas and summer sales. Without a thorough plan of what we’re going to do next year, we could not afford to put this together. We already know what we want to add for next season, what we need to get make it happen, and where to find it at 75-90% off. Planning is everything!
Q: How much does all this cost?
A: This display is our gift to the community, and we always take the tags off of our gifts before we wrap them. Merry Christmas! 🙂