Running The LED Christmas Light Wires Part 1
As I mentioned earlier, I want as much of the LED wiring as possible (preferably all of it) concealed. I don't want to have to put up Christmas lights every fall and take them down every spring. The LEDs themselves are printed on white PCB strips and inside a clear silicone tube, so they'll be hard to spot unless you're looking right at them.
Below are some shots of the house to give you a rough idea of where the LED strips will be mounted -- almost against the wall, on the soffit.
To keep the wires hidden, I'll want to run them from a wall-mounted control and power center in my garage... up to the garage attic... from the garage attic to the house attic... from the main house attic to the separate attic space in the dormer/gable end over the living room area of the house.
Getting the wires from the garage to the garage attic will be easy, so I'll tackle that later.
After a lot of looking and thinking, I was sure I could cut a whole in my garage attic roof that would end up in the soffit space at the front of the house. The peak of the garage roof actually intersects this soffit space, so I'll need a hole in the garage roof, on either side of the peak. If I could get my LED Christmas light wires into this particular soffit space, I was confident I could then go from this space to the main attic.
Even though I was 99.99% sure my idea would work, I took it in baby steps. I drilled a preliminary hole through the garage roof with a small twist bit. I only got wood bits, and no asphalt shingle pieces when drilling -- positive sign #1. When I looked through the hole I didn't see any bright sunlight pouring through -- positive sign #2. I then pushed in a piece of coat hanger wire with a curve near the end. By twirling it around, I could tell it wasn't hitting anything on either side of the drilled hole. At that point I put a 2-inch hole saw into my drill and made the original hole a lot bigger. The view through the 2-inch hole proved I ended up in the soffit space, and not out on the roof somewhere. Victory! Rather than climb down from the attic for my jigsaw, I just used the drill and hole saw bit to make a roughly rectangular opening about 4 by 6 inches.
When that opening was finished, I put a trouble light through the opening and into the soffit space with the light facing up toward the attic. Then I climbed into the main attic of the house and, thankfully, saw the glow from the trouble light. As I had hoped, the space between the main roof and insulation baffles would be enough to run wires through.
Now I need to see if I can get into the space where the gable end/dormer-ish part of the roof sits on top of the roof. In this kind of truss construction, the main roof trusses are put in place first, the roof sheeting is put on. After that, separate smaller trusses are used to shape the dormer or gable end that sits above the living room window, and that is sheeted as well. It's a great construction technique, but not the best for someone running wires for his LED Christmas lights.
Since that part of the roof is at the opposite end of the attic from the access hatch, I'm going to take time to build a catwalk in the attic. It's come in handy if I can take this LED Christmas light project to completion. Even if the LEDs don't pan out, this is the second project in my attic (the first was installing a digital over-the-air or OTA antenna for free HD TV) and probably not the last -- so a catwalk will be handy.
That'll be my next post!