June 2, 2021

Christmas light controllers – you can DIY them, or you can buy them – but which should you do?

In this video we talk about the anatomy of a controller and discuss whether or not you should build your own Christmas light controller or not.

Differences in Controllers

Pixel controllers are both part of the stage lighting world and in the Christmas lighting world. There are some interesting and key differences in each type of controller which are worth knowing about that will help in understanding how we got to where we are today in the Pixel light world and what will suit your needs best to either build or buy.

Pixel Controllers in the Stage Lighting World

When it comes to controllers in the stage lighting world, most of the ones that you will buy will be a finished product. This means that you will have the unit, the case, and the power cord which is ready to be plugged in and used straight away.

Pixel Controllers in the Christmas Lighting World

You may find that things are a little bit different when it comes to controllers in the Christmas lighting world. Sometimes you can buy the controllers pre-built while other times people prefer to purchase the components of the controller and piece it together themselves.

You will find that in the Christmas lighting world controllers, even pre-built ones, are not actually built into an enclosure or case to protect it.

Reasons Christmas Pixel Controllers Lack Cases

There are a few big reasons why for this seemingly strange difference. The main reason for this being that it keeps the cost down for consumers.

Another rather important reason for this is that in Christmas displays, everyone has different needs and ways that things need to be configured and so this open controller gives easier access to be able to customize your controller to exactly what you need for your show.

The final reason that Christmas pixel controllers are typically sold without a case is that you will generally need to put your controller in an outdoor rated case. The mass quantity of stage lighting controllers are not cased in waterproof casing because it is simply not usually necessary, so this main difference allows you to use a suitable case for outdoor use.

What Goes in A Controller Box?

When you are figuring out what to put together in your controller box you will need the basics which are the controller, some way to power it and possibly power other pixels, and you may need other controllers or receivers depending on your specific display, and then of course you will need the box which generally will be something waterproof.

Bare, Built, or Hybrid?

One of the main questions you may have as far as the best route to take for yourself is if you should simply buy a bare board and cable guard box or if you should keep things more simple and go buy something pre-built or is there in fact a hybrid approach?

All of these options are actually great options and just depend on your personal needs and preference.


Going with an at least partially pre-made option is certainly one of the best choices. The reason for this being that you will get something that comes with all the main components that you will need and you still have the option to customize your preferences. The hybrid also will keep the price down a bit more than if you purchase something completely pre-built.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}