Overview

Author Gravatar Image LADY ADA
EL Wire, also known as Electroluminescent wire, is a stiff wire core coated with phosphor and then covered with a protective PVC sheath. When an AC signal is applied to it, it glows an aqua (blue green) color. Sometimes its covered with a colored plastic shell to make it appear another color. It looks a little like thin neon. Very bendable, it keeps its shape and you can curl it around your finger. Its an easy way to add some glow to a project, not as bright as LEDs but uses a lot less power!

It's often used for costuming, decoration, accent lighting, safety vests, bicycle/motorcycle/car/boat/home decoration, signs, etc. It's definitely the most popular wearable electronics we've seen since its so easily to use.

We have two EL project tutorials - the TRON-inspired bag and the EL wire party couch !

You can pick up some high-brightness, long-life EL wire and inverters at the Adafruit shop

Quickstart FAQ

  • EL is 'cold' - the wires generate no heat!
  • EL wire requires a driver/inverter that can provide 400-2000 Hz, 60-120VAC (that's RMS not peak-to-peak!)
  • Higher frequency/voltage results in a brighter wire
  • Running the wire brighter will lead to a reduced lifetime (how many hours it takes until its half-brightness)
  • Our high-brightness/long-life EL wire can be driven at 100V/2000Hz for 3000 hours before it is half the original brightness
  • EL wire is capacitive, and cannot be PWM'ed or easily dimmed (unless you can adjust the voltage/frequency of the inverter)
  • The more wire you connect to an inverter, the more 'loaded' it is and the dimmer it will be
  • Our AA pocket driver can drive about 2.5 meters before it starts dimming significantly. 2 meters is a good amount, 3 is OK but wont be as bright.
  • If you 'split' and connect more than one piece of EL to an inverter, count the total length of all the pieces
  • The AA inverter works best with fresh batteries, but you can use rechargables - it'll just be dimmer because the input voltage is lower.
  • The capacitance 'load' of the EL is required to stabilize the inverter so never run the inverter without at least 1 foot of EL attached!
Please note! EL tape, EL wire and EL panel are made with different processes and so the color and brightness will not be consistant between the two: aqua tape, aqua wire and aqua panels will not necessarily match!
Last updated on 2014-04-22 at 06.33.54 PM Published on 2012-07-29 at 03.58.38 PM