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EL wire is a lighting product which is basically a plastic tube that lights up along it’s whole length when a voltage is applied.  The same technology is available as a plastic flexible EL sheet, handy for back lighting scales and screens.

The product comes in various sizes, colours & shapes such as “tail wire” which has the added mounting benefit of a 1cm flat tab running along one side to allow stapling/sowing.  EL can work in very long continuous lengths. It’s water proof, can bend, is shock proof, can be cut to any length desired and gives off virtually no heat.

IThe EL wire requires a driver which produces a high voltage, high frequency current, these tend to come in different sizes to power various lengths of wire.  This can be run through standard cable such as speaker cable.  Individual lengths of wire can be run in series or parallel from each driver.  The wire can be dimmed, flashed and chased.

I  incorporated EL wire into my car interior to pick out the lines around trims etc.  One of the hardest tasks was finding a glue that stuck the wire properly without damaging the trim - I opted for water based PVA in the end however, if you don’t require a mounting system that can be removed without damage, super glue or other contact adhesives may be used.

By far the best type of wire to use for vehicle trim is EL TAIL wire as this has the 1cm flat tab running along its length meaning you can fit it and glue/staple it behind trim panels or build it into areas such as the leather door panels etc.

When using EL wire you need to remember to allow a length for electrical connection.  The best way to do this is as follows:

You will need:  Speaker cable, Thin glue lined heat shrink tube, copper tape & a soldering iron.

Strip the OUTER plastic sleeve off the centre wire, inside you will find a smaller plastic wire - this is the actual business part of the package!

Carefully strip the second layer of plastic insulation off this centre part, inside you should have 2 tiny exciter wires - these are extremely thin and easily broken if you’re not careful stripping off the inner plastic coating.  Down the very centre of the wire is the EL part it’s self, this is basically a solid wire with an electroluminescent coating.

Now you have stripped you cable you need to join it to your supply cable, I would recommend you use a thin speaker cable for this purpose.

Wrap a bit of copper tape around the last bit of outer sleeve (coloured part) then solder your 2 exciter wires to this tape along with the neutral of your EL supply cable.

Next you scrape clean the centre conductor, this can be soldered directly onto the positive EL supply wire.

el solder

The whole joint can then be sleeved with heat shrink tube, glue lined type is best, the whole joint is then kept nice and small using this method.  The supply cables can be any length and go back to the inverter, you can connect as many bits of wire in parallel to the inverter as you like, providing you do not exceed the total length of EL the converter can run.

This is a great effect and looks stunning, it’s also VERY unusual so attracts quite the crowd at shows!  If you want more info on this product send me an E-mail and I will be happy to help.

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