Are you ready to take next years Halloween costume to the next level? Create amazing light effects on clothing, furniture, your car and more with electroluminescent wire. This article is your quick-start guide on how to use EL wire.
What is Electroluminescent Wire?
Electroluminescent wire or EL wire connects to a battery pack to create a bright, glowing effect. The wires have a phosphor coating which is electrically conductive and luminescent. So, when you turn your battery pack on the phosphor glows.
Electroluminescent wire resembles rope lighting. Both offer a strand of illuminated cordage, but EL wire produces it differently.
Rope lighting consists of a series of light points that are arranged into a clear tube. EL wire produces a strand of unbroken light. The illumination comes from the phosphor coating that wraps around the wire. So you get 360 degrees of illumination.
How Is It Used?
The thinness of the wire makes it uniquely flexible. EL wire comes in a variety of diameters. The diameter of EL wire you should choose depends on the application.
EL wire is available in sizes that range from 0.9mm to 5.0mm. The two largest wire diameters, 2.5mm, and 5.0mm produce the brightest illumination but require the most voltage.
EL wire is great for decoration and DIY fun. But it is also great for emergency lighting.
Wrap EL wire around your bicycle for safe nighttime riding. Put an EL light border around dimly lit stop signs.
Multiple EL wires connect into a sequencer to create a light show effect. DIY projects can include a sequence of up to 10 wire channels. A sequencer provides controls for changing the speed, direction, and order of the EL wire channels.
Sequencer units are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and are battery powered. So, you can have an illuminated scrolling message board display across your jacket, hat, or curtains.
How to Use EL Wire
EL wires are spools of wire like any other. You order the amount of EL wire you need, by length. So the first step to using EL wire is to measure the length of wire you need.
Keep in mind, you need a few inches of length on either end for your power source connections. If the wire design is in clothing or fabric the extra length will tuck behind a seem.
Choosing an EL Driver
Your driver provides the power to illuminate the wiring. They run on batteries and are small enough to fit in your pocket.
The wires need a high frequency, high-volt alternating current to activate the luminescent phosphor. To achieve this, you connect your EL wire to an inverter or driver. It converts the low voltage DC power, from the batteries, into high voltage AC power.
Your driver must have a length rating matched to that of your wire. If you use the wrong driver to wire length ratio the wire can malfunction and cause a fire hazard. So, be sure to match your driver to your length of EL wiring.
Connecting Your EL Wires to the Driver
Connecting the EL wires to your power source requires soldering unless you use an EZ Snap connector. If you are new to using electroluminescent wire, an EZ snap connector is recommended for ease-of-use and safety.
After you strip a few inches of outer tubing from the ends of your wire you can access what is necessary to connect your driver. Then you can add a handheld switch for convenient control.
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