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How to Use EL Wire – Things You Should Know!

Here’s some tips for getting the most out of your el wire:


1)   Use Decent Batteries – alkaline ones like duracell are the best – but you can get these same type of batteries much cheaper (eg Maplins sell a box of 100 of them for £15)

Rechargable batteries have a lower voltage (1.2v) compared to standard batteries (1.5v)

So if you are using 8 of them in the 8XAA battery box you will be putting in 9v instead of the 12v the inverter needs

As the battery drains you will find the EL Wire becomes less bright and you may even notice it becomes patchy – this is a sign to put fresh batteries in


2)   Switch Inverter Off After Use – if you unplug the wires from the inverter it will still carry on draining the batteries


3)   Adding More Wire – you can ‘daisy chain’ many splitters together and have many wires coming off a single inverter.  You will soon find that adding by adding extra EL wire it begins to get dimmer.

The more powerful inverters will drive the EL wire brighter (eg the 8xAA inverter runs 15m of EL wire brighter than the 2xAA inverter drives 1m of wire)


4)    Any Glue Is Fine – for fixing wire to a costume. A Hot-glue gun is the best. Remember if it is being permanently fixed to clothing which is being worn out that there is some chance the wire will suffer some extreme environments so take care to observe point 5)


5)   Protect The Connection Point – The inch of tubing where the power wire joins to the glowing EL Wire is BY FAR the most fragile and vulnerable point.

Lightpainters are advised to tape up and reinforce this part (as well as the wires as they come out of the inverter) before they star swinging the wire around. And if you’re using it on a costume be sure to keep this part away from elbows or anywhere it will suffer stress.


6)   If The Wire Fails – It is likely to be at the place mentioned in 5) Don’t worry if the wire is firmly glued somewhere as you can just cut the connector off and re-attach it.

Instructions how to do this are on the website – unfortunately it requires wirestrippers, a soldering iron and some copper tape – but it is fairly easy. Sometimes though it is the fault of the very far end of the EL wire, perhaps the end cap has fallen off and something has shorted thewires at that end so give it a quick rub and see if it sparks into life ( you yourself might get a tingle of an electro shock off this – dont worry though, EL Wire is VERY low current so there is no danger of a painful shock


9 Responses to How to Use EL Wire – Things You Should Know!

  1. Hi I am currently making upgrades to my outfit for future Cyber Industrial gigs and i am considering attaching some El Wire to the inside of the visor section of a paintball mask i use and i was wondering if you might be able to reccomend components if i send you some pictures from inside the mask

  2. Hi All, great info thanks, I’m learning loads. First project, Bike lighting! If I use a 5m driver on 4m wire, will this counter the effect of rechargeables having reduced voltage, or does the driver need to be fully powered regardless? If I want to use twin.core red on the back, is it feasible to use single core white on the front or would that need a new driver to power it? Thanks for your time, w

    • hi
      if you try running 7m off a 5m driver you will notice it reduce brighness
      but 3m off a 5m is not really any different to 5m off a 5m driver

      in fact you can tell when the driver is at its limit
      eg for A 5M driver:
      if you run 1m then 3m then 5m ff it – they will all pretty much be the same brightness
      adding any ore strains the inverter and it will start to be noticably less bright

      so what im trying to say is is – in my experience, taking away wire doesnt really make it brighter

      using a more powerful driver will make it brighter
      and im afraid to say – using decent high voltage batteries makes a difference in brightness

      btw – yes you can mix double core and normal el wire – but remember to double the amount of double core when calculating which inverter you need

      eg if you are using 3m of double core that is really like using 6m of el wire – so a driver for 5m wont really cut it

      so, about the rechargable batteries – it has been upsetting me that this wire is pretty eco (no dangerous chemicals in its manufacture and v low power consumption) and yet its not easy to use rechargeables with it, whereas you can with say LEDS
      but that is true no longer – we have been experimenting with 12v li-ion batteries and have found an awesome system

      we’ve got 3 types:
      1800 mAh
      2800 mAh (about the same as 8x Duracell 2xAA Batteries)

      these are also much smaller and lighter than the 8xAA battery box

      and they clip into the 3-15m driver, 10 – 30m driver, 25-60m driver and the 25m sequencer

      hopefully ill be listing them this weekend

  3. Thanks Rhizzla, I’ll keep an eye out for the Li-ion packs. So I can run normal wire off the chasing driver that the dual core needs?

    • hmm im not sure about the chasing driver?
      chasing el wire needs its own ‘chasing’ driver
      if thats what you mean?

      but double core el wire will just run off any standard el driver
      (whether you get it from me or not – all el drivers have the same connectors)

      you can keep adding splitters to el drivers to add any more amounts of wire you want


  4. Sorry, Dave, I think i confused myself , the dual core description says it has a special connecter and needs a chasing wire driver. I guess i need to stick to one kind or move to two drivers. I’ll wait to see these li-ion drivers, cheers, wil

    • ok i should look at the description again

      but just to be clear:
      the Double Core runs off a standard driver and has standard EL connectors – but you have to remember to double up when working out which driver you need
      (eg 5 metres of double core will need a river for 10m of EL Wire)
      but it runs off standard drivers

      Chasing EL Wire has to use a different type of driver

  5. Hi. I’ve use the driver from an EL T-shirt to run the chasing wire and this works well.
    It actually has 6 wires inside and driving each with a separate channel yields a much more effective chasing effect than the usual 3 wire as supplied.

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