Christmas Lights frustration. Any advice?

Here’s a question for all my many electrician readers.

The Christmas lights I have outside have one of those “multi function” gizmos so they can flash, twinkle, fade, chase and do all sorts of clever, and frankly unnecessary, things. I just want them to stay on. Here’s the controller:

Easy enough, you say: I can see setting number eight says “steady on“. Well, yes, I’ve noticed that. But I’m not going to just leave them on all the time, and when they’ve been off they don’t remember what setting you had them on last time. No, they may be clever, but they’re not clever enough to do that. They always come on on setting number one – “combination”.

So what’s the problem, I hear you say. Surely it’s not too much of a problem to just press that button seven times when you turn them on? No, no it’s not. But here’s the thing: I have them plugged into a timer that switches them on for me when I’m not there, and off again at midnight. So they twinkle and flash their merry way around that damned “combination” sequence like they’re possessed until I get home to press the button.

So here’s the question. Can I bypass this whole box somehow and just get them to come on and stay on? Shouldn’t be too difficult, I thought.

But can you see the difficulty? There are two wires going off to the plug. And three wires going off to the lights. Oh, and the box is sealed. No screws, no clips, no indication that you’re allowed to get inside.

Any ideas? Anyone? Please?


NEW: If you want to know exactly what I’ve done about this, I’ve posted an update here.

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31 thoughts on “Christmas Lights frustration. Any advice?

  1. Phil Wadner

    Hi Trevor,
    In principle, and so long as these are low voltage LED type lights, what you need to do is identify the return and the two feeds coming out of the box of tricks, snip all the wires around the box, connect the two feeds together, then connect those and the return directly to the two wires going into the box. But you’ll need to check that the voltage on the feeds is the same as that going into the box (my guess it’s 24V), and also ensure that you get the polarity correct when you bypass the box (danger of destroying the LEDs). If you have a simple voltmeter and basic knowledge of positives and negatives you should be OK!
    Otherwise, buy a trick dog to work the button…
    Good luck,
    Phil

    Reply
      1. Phil Wadner

        Just pop your meter on DC volts and measure the voltage between the two box input wires first. If the voltage is displaying as +24V make a note of which wire is on the +ve (red) terminal of the meter. If the display says -24V, the black terminal of the meter will be connected to the +ve wire. (You can just swop the leads to double check). Then you need to do the same for the light feeds. I’d be tempted to cut each wire and then reconnect them through a little electrical connector block. With the lights running, this would make it easier to check which wire is the return and which are the two live feeds. As before, measure the voltage and identify the +ve wire(s). Then when you connect the two lives (together) and the return to the two input wires make sure you connect +ve to +ve.
        Sounds a bit complicated, but hope you manage to have a go!
        Worst that can happen is you have to buy another set of lights!!
        Phil

        Reply
  2. Phil Wadner

    A final thought.
    It is possible that the current rating on the power block might not be enough to work all the LEDs on permanently, it might rely on them flashing which would be a lower average current. It should really be designed for the worst case (all permanently on), but you never know.
    So, if you get as far as figuring out the connections, it would be a good idea to make sure the power block doesn’t get too warm, and even better would be to use your meter to measure the current and check it is less than the rating of the power block.
    If you’re not completely comfortable with all this, maybe wait for an electro-friend to do the checks. I don’t want to be responsible for burning down your house !!

    Reply
    1. Trevor Post author

      Phil, I’d suggest the very existence of a “steady on” settings means they must be designed to cope with such a thing. Thanks for your help though. I’ve had three offers of the loan of a voltmeter, and one of actual assistance.

      Reply
  3. Marco

    I have the same damn problem with four sets I purchased from B&Q, in saying this I have other push button multi function sets that hold their settings fine.

    The idiots who designed the ones that don’t, need a xmas tree inserted somewhere unpleasant!

    Reply
    1. Peter

      The drawings in the wiki link make it easy. I’ve done mine and they work a treat. The transformers are AC not DC so follow the appropriate drawing.

      Reply
      1. Steve

        The wiki link (above) is great, but further help is still needed. The drawings don’t cover the (B&Q) model: YF-BS-3101 (made by Ying Fu (H.K.) Industrial Ltd.).

        I have accessed the circuit board but am unsure which connections to make to bypass the multifunction bit. It would be a simple matter to solder the appropriate connections on the circuit board if I knew which ones needed soldering. I am trying to register with the wiki site to post there, but so far without success.

        Reply
  4. Tom Cartwright

    If you were to break it open, what you’re looking for is 2 things which have been soldered with 3 points above a delta symbol. It’s on the circuit board side of that you need to solder. It looks identical to the Wilkinson Multifunction LED Christmas Lights controller if that’s what it is. What needs to be soldered in those is what’s been circled here. http://i43.tinypic.com/2rnv29f.jpg Worked for me

    Tom

    Reply
    1. Trevor Post author

      Tom, mine looks like the Wilkinson one because it *is* the Wilkinson one!

      As it happens, I’ve just put them up this morning. If I feel confident later in the season I may crack it open and see what I can see. Would need to borrow a soldering iron from someone.

      Many thanks.

      Reply
      1. Tom Cartwright

        I thought it was! I just saw someone mention a B&Q model. I’ve done the same today, and had to solder it up a bit beforehand. I haven’t seen anything else on the internet specific to the Wilko ones, so I thought it could be of use.

        Reply
  5. Alice

    Ive just bought some new lights and put them up today; they have a similar controller except no. 1 is steady on – they stay on for about 10 seconds then start flashing which is driving me crazy. they dont go through any of the other 6 flashing cycles mind you, Does anyone have any tricks as to how I can get them to stay on normally?! I would be more than happy if they started flashing when i turned them on and off but i cant even manage them to stay on at all!
    thanks,

    Reply
    1. Trevor Post author

      I have no tips for you I’m afraid. Don’t knowing any if the suggestions other people have posted will help. Come on folks, let’s help Alice out.

      Reply
  6. Andy

    I have just ‘fixed’ the sets of lights that I bought from B&Q. Controller number YF-BS-3104.
    (made by these people http://www.yingfu-industrial.com/). They had 8 settings, all of which were extremely annoying – bar number 8 which was constantly on.

    When placed on a timer, they would come on in ‘demo’ mode, going through the 8 different settings, which was bad enough with one set but with two sets they were always out of sync. It was driving us and our neighbours mad.

    To fix them (i.e. if you want them to stay on all the time) you need to be able to do some minor soldering.

    The units themselves appear to be sealed for life but running a saw along one of the seams allowed a screwdriver to be inserted and the box broken open.

    Not sure how to upload photo’s here but I’ll try and describe what you need to do.
    There are 2 red wires that output to the actual lights. Where they join the circuit board the are both adjacent to a series of pins (coming from a thyristor). A blob of solder joining the red wire to the 2 nearest pins should be applied for both red wires.

    This will stop the flashing and your lights will remain on regardless.
    I am not an electrician but I have simply copied the ideas from different controllers onto this specific one. If you have any doubts about your ability or understanding, please don’t attempt this…

    Reply
    1. Tracey Delaney

      I have been looking everywhere for a new plug that doubles up as a transformer so that I can have ‘stead on’ all the time – I absolutely loathe any other setting….what’s more the soft push button is now not responding readily to the constant pushing required to get it to setting 8……any thoughts on if you can simply buy new plugs? The wires on mine come out anyways so I didn’t think it would be too difficult…until I started looking on the internet for them – aargh!!

      Reply
  7. Corrinne

    Does the control box for multifunctions , go outside or inside? Bought a set and need to know please? I realise that the transformer goes inside…

    Reply
  8. belinda

    Can you help me? I have a set of outside Xmas lights but the wire close to the transformer has been cut thru, how can I wire them back together again? They are on a czjutai ac adaptor jt-1200 transformer and the label says 240/24v 50hz 2.4v/0.16w
    I was just going to strip both cut ends and tap together with insulating tape but dont want to wire the wring wires together – does that make sense?

    Reply
    1. Trevor Post author

      Er, sorry, no idea on that one either. As I think is clear from my original post, I’m no electronics expert. Maybe someone else will see this and come up with a suggestion…?

      Reply
  9. Alan Bright

    I have a set of 1 yr old led festive lights from B&Q, but the Ying Fu led controller will now not power the lights (I swapped lights with another identical controller and they work fine). However I cannot find a Ying Fu YF-BS-3102 controller anywhere, and the current B&Q controllers have a different connection, (and they don’t sell them separate to led lights either). Can someone recommend a solution, or do I simply throw the lights away?

    Reply
  10. Paula

    I bought some led lights some years ago but can’t remember if they are suitable for outside. They are model yf-bs-3101. I’ve tried to identify the symbols without success. Does anyone know if they are ok for outside usage? Thanks

    Reply
  11. david

    I also wanted the chaser lights to come on initially and stay on.They are outside lights and run on a time switch from the garage.If flashing they would annoy my neighbours.I decided to simply remove the box of tricks and join the 2 input wires to the 2 output wires. This has worked but some of the lights do not light.On reading this info I gather that i need to re-introduce the second feed (by finding it and joining together with the first feed) . I will do this and report back soon. Might help others with dodgy or annoying flashing e t c. david

    Reply
  12. Keri

    Hey

    I have these lights and the remote that changes the sequence has just stopped working. Does anyone know how I can fix this? As I really don’t feel like taking them off the tree and to put new ones on!

    Thank you!

    Reply
  13. Rachel

    You’re post just made me laugh out loud, literally. That’s a quality post that’s sums up my question precisely. Well said.

    Reply

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