Running Multiple EL Wire strips from one inverter (without losing too much luminescence)

We have made a number of wearable/rideable EL Wire sculptures of Aus animals.

Each of these contains from about 10 up to about 40 lengths of EL Wire which we are currently running with 1 x double AA battery inverter / strip. When we have tried splitting them (to run more than one per inverter) there is such a marked drop in luminescence that the maximum we can split is 2 wires / inverter & even this is a downgrade in visual quality.

I am looking for a way to possibly run multiple lengths of EL Wire from one power source - eg. a 12v battery (or even 2) worn by the performer in a satchel or similar.

Can anyone recommend the absolute best way to achieve this result?

Thanks in advance.


Hi Zac,

Those are some awesome shots! :slight_smile:

I’ve never used EL Wire myself before, but I always find the best way to get something to do what you want is to start off by understanding how it works. Adafruit and Sparkfun have some really good articles:

One of the sparkfun guys does a great run down of making an EL Wire sign for burning man in a video here:

And a couple of other good articles from Sparkfun:

I’ve also found some other excellent articles after a bit of googling that go into a lot more detail:

For us I think the key take homes are:

  • EL wire brightness increases with both increasing voltage and frequency.
  • EL Wire lifespan decreases with increasing voltage and frequency
  • The more EL wire you have, the dimmer it will be
  • The only EL wire colour that’s really available is pale blue. Other colours are made by wrapping the phosphor in coloured plastic.

EL wire is also a very capacitive load, so large amounts of it really clamp down the voltage (and hence brightness) if you have too much of it - which is what’s happening when you try to run two strips from the one small inverter. I suspect you’ll also find that it’ll get dimmer towards the end of a very long run of EL wire (I might be wrong about this).

So there’s a few options:

  • More powerful inverter (more voltage and frequency)
  • More inverters
  • Sequencing using Persistence of Vision - ie only having some on at once, but very briefly so it looks like they’re all on.
  • Stick with blue/green or pale colours

Here’s some good parts that might help:

1 Like