Ah, the LED. What a money saver, that is, if you have the cash up front. I do not. I currently use two strings of 3 par 38 cans because I started all this in 2009 with zero electrical know how. For 2010, I attempted to make three flickering flame LED lanterns that turned out O.K. Each run on a 9V battery that lasted through the several evenings that I had them lit. You can see the 2010 lighting in my You Tube video here.
As you can see, I had a lot of colorful light that doesn't necessarily do justice to the level of detail I put into my props. I'm sure most of the haunters out there are familiar with Skull and Bone who has a great tutorial on the dynamics of lighting. If you haven't seen Pumpkinrot's masterpieces do yourself the favor. The Davis Graveyard is a great example of using very natural looking lighting.
My goal for 2011, in addition to adding at least 12 more props (ooh, that's one a month-damn! I'm already behind), I want to go at least mostly LED with homemade LED spotlights and mini spots that aren't all battery powered because that can be wasteful, and a pain in the as if you have to turn on 50 batteries an evening. In 2010 I was up to 41 batteries to turn on between my flicker lantern and the Costco LED candles. I would like two spots for each character prop to create depth, one for each tombstone, and minis to highlight little details that would otherwise be missed. I also plan to hack the 38 LED candles into pillar candles running off a 12V DC converter. Actually, the whole thing can technically be run of one 12V converter.
The good news is that at least the power supply from my old PC will get new life. The bad news is that I only have this about half comfortably thought out. The LED flicker lanterns were a great intro to LED circuits, so I have a lot more confidence this time around.
I understand the want to use all the colors we can get our hands on because a lot of people have seen this place:
Click photo for a huge photo
In reality, my yard isn't anywhere near as big, nor do I need the power to light a facade that big for really big effect. I don't know how large that elevation of Disney's haunted Mansion is, but my largest prop is the size of a shortish human being. I have several that size. What happens if I go with a more natural looking light with just a few hints of the amazing technocolors? It might look like crap but that is the effect I am setting out to reproduce for 2011.
Two places to learn from will be Christmas lighting forums and modeling forums, such as doll houses and model railroads. I'm sure there is so much out there that I haven't even hit the tip of the iceberg.