If you are new to EL Wire, you are probably noticing that there are a lot of different choices when it comes to drivers and inverters. If you are asking yourself, "what is a driver or inverter anyway?", then keep reading below.
The first thing you want to ask yourself when starting an EL Wire project is, "what is my goal?" Are you looking to outfit an entire bar with EL Wire, add a little light to a bathroom or hallway, or simply decorate a hat or add some wire to a costume. No matter the project, get a general idea of how much wire you think you will need, then times that by 2. This will probably be the true amount of wire you need, or wish you had at the end of the project.
Let's say for example sake, that you are decorating a costume with EL Wire. The costume idea you have is a fur jacket. The next thing you need to ask yourself, is how crazy are you going with the design? Do you want to have a few strands here and there, or are you looking to have multiple patterns all across the jacket and a few hundred feet of wire throughout? Again, for a quick example, let's say you are just looking at the basics, and you want to create a border with wire, the collar, pockets, and maybe a little design on the back. If you total that up, you are probably looking at about 50 feet of wire. Initially you may be thinking you needed only 25 feet of wire, but that definitely won't cover it. Well how the heck do you get 50 feet of wire to glow? This is where the drivers and inverters come in.
An EL Wire driver is simply battery pack that will change the battery unit into a usable power that will elongate the EL Wire's lifespan, and make sure you are getting maximum glow out of your wire. All the drivers across Ellumiglow.com will let you know the minimum and maximum amount of wire they will power. If you have a driver that is meant to power 5-20 feet of wire, and you have 25 feet of wire that you are trying to light up, you won't be too happy with the results. It will either show up incredibly dim, or possibly not at all. So make sure you are using the correct amount of wire for each driver. The wire can be spliced, cut, and combined, so make sure your total amount of wire your driver says it will power is not exceeded.
Back to our example, of a 50 foot fur EL Wire Jacket. A perfect idea would be 2(two) 9V battery packs, as each of these will power about 25 feet of EL Wire, are easy to hide, and fit nicely in pockets. You can also cut a hole in the jacket to hide the wire. Once you have the supplies, and it is time to start placing the wire around the jacket, we recommend having some thread or thin fishing wire, clear fabric glue, and rubber gloves. Most glue once applied is a pain to get off, so first make sure it is going in the right place, and second, use the gloves so you don't get glue all over yourself! As a good rule of thumb, start your project where you will be housing the battery packs (inverters). This will make sure you have a smooth transition throughout your project.
For larger projects, like hallways, bars, or fixed installs like art installations, battery packs are inefficient and a plug in unit is recommended. The most comprehensive EL Inverter line on the market is called the MEGA EL Inverter line. These inverters are the most robust, quiet, feature rich, safe and USA Made Inverter on the market today. They are meant to be used 24/7 and provide power to hundreds of feet of electroluminescent material.