I Want To Build My Own EL Wire Kit – Where Do I Start?
If you have some basic tools like a soldering iron, and wire strippers, why not give it a go? EL Wire is a blast to play with, and you can get very proficient (Quickly!) at making the connections and be the coolest kid on your block. What’s nice about learning this knowledge is you can purchase Bulk EL Wire and it will be cheaper over the long run. There are some basic electrical guidelines that you need to know prior to making your own EL Wire Kit, but after that, you can be on your merry way. EL Wire is similar to other electrical connections where there is a positive and negative charge. The difference between EL Wire and other electrical connections is it doesn’t matter which wire goes where, just as long as the two wires are not touching.
Here are the basic necessities in order to start on your own kit:
Heat Gun (or Lighter)
Inverter/Driver (We call them “Battery Packs”)
Power Supply (This can be combined into one with a hand-held inverter)
Heat Shrink Tubing
Soldering Irons are important to make the connections stick. We have made connections without soldering the joints, but they will eventually fall off and it will be a headache. Soldering Iron’s can be purchased for as little as $15 and will make your EL World much more enjoyable. Please use caution while using soldering irons as the tip of the iron usually ranges from 750-1500°F! They’re hot!
Heat Guns are basically a giant blast of heat spewing from a metal tube, similar to a hair dryer, but at about 400-600 degrees warmer. Our heat gun shoots out at about 900°F and will melt a water bottle in about 10 seconds. They can be very dangerous if you touch the metal tube while it’s warm, so be careful when dealing with Heat Guns. If you aren’t ready to invest in a heat gun just yet, try using a lighter (again with caution) as you are able to heat up the Heat Shrink Tubing just fine with a common Bic Lighter.
EL Wire is the main material that you will need in order to complete your project. Plan on ordering about 10%-20% more than you think you will need, as this is probably the actual amount that you will use. EL Wire is cheaper if you purchase it by the foot and can be cut into any length you want with standard household scissors or wire cutters. EL Wire comes in 10 colors and can run in nearly any length you can imagine. Be aware, the longer the wire, the more power it uses to illuminate.
EL Wire Inverters (Battery Packs) are the lifeblood of the EL Wire. It converts either a 12V AC/DC connection into a usable high frequency charge. If you have ever put the EL Wire inverter close to your ear, you will notice a slight humming noise. This high pitch noise is what is actually powering the wire. Making sure you have the correct inverter size to the amount of EL Wire is important. If you use an inverter that is far too powerful for the wire you are using, your EL Wire will not last as long. Conversely, if you use an inverter that is too small, the EL Wire will be very dim, or may not glow at all. All inverters will have a power rating and the rating has to do with the amount of wire it will power. This is also displayed on each battery pack or inverter on Ellumiglow.com.
EL Wire Power Supplies are only necessary if your inverter does not generate its own power. A common power supply is our Standard Power Supply which plugs directly into a wall outlet and powers about 15 feet of wire. These are great for running wire along a hallway or in a bathroom. Other power supplies are simple battery holders which are relatively cheap. The most common form is a battery holder that holds 8 AA Batteries (1.5V each), which actually makes a 12V (1.5V x 8) connection. These battery holders can be used for a number of applications and are easy to connect to an EL Wire Inverter.
Connectors are what you will use to run your EL Wire to your inverter. These connections are called EZ snap connectors and they make a nice secure bond with between your EL Wire and your Inverter. With two hands the connection is easily removed and these connectors make it easier to get more distance out of your EL Wire Inverters. Every EL Wire inverter has a MALE end, so you MUST purchase a FEMALE end in order to connect your EL Wire correctly with the inverter. This step is important if you are new to EL Wire.
Heat Shrink Tubing is really, really cool. You can’t have too much tubing and you will probably find a plethora of uses outside of connecting EL Wire. Basically the name says it all, but when heat is applied to the tubing, it becomes extremely pliable and shrinks down to about ½ the size of its previous state. Once it cools down, the tubing becomes hard and creates a firm bond to the wire. Heat Shrink tubing is a low cost, clean way to hide your messy connection. It also protects the wire from the elements and make sure that the wire doesn’t short out or become wet. This tubing is completely waterproof and one of the more important pieces of the EL Wire connection. Simply slide the wire over the connection, apply heat and watch it shrink. They’re similar to our old school dinosaur sponges we had when we were kids, but just do the opposite.
End Caps are, you guessed it… They go on the exposed end of the EL Wire. End Caps allow you to complete your connection, keep it waterproof, and out of harm from the elements. These are important in dusty or wet conditions as the end of the wire will end up collecting lots of debris and eventually short out your wire if there is not a proper end cap on the end. End caps in the past required glue in order to keep the cap on the wire. Our new end caps actually are too small intentionally, but when they heat up, actually become pliable enough to fit on the end of the wire. Apply a little more heat and it will create a nice bond with the wire and allow it to stay on securely without any glue.
These are the main building blocks of how to create your own EL Wire Kits. If you have further questions, see our EL Wire Knowledgebase for more information.