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Spark your imagination: Home > What is EL Wire - CooLight EL Wire FAQs
CooLight EL Wire 101 - GENERAL FAQS

What is EL Wire - Electroluminescent Wire?
It is a light source based on the technology of Electroluminescent. A 360 degree linear light source in the form of a center flexible copper wire coated with phosphor lubricant and wrapped with two fine copper wires. The phosphor coated core this then layered with two PVC sleeves - 1) an inner PVC sheath to provide initial core wire protection and 2) a second sleeve - clear or colored with organic florescent dye to provide color.

It comes in many colors and diameters of 1.2mm to 5.0mm and continuous lengths up to hundreds of feet. When the appropriate electric power is applied to EL Wire, the flexible fiber glows similarly to neon light. Cool to the touch and very low power consumption! It is not as bright as LEDs or Neon but provides a very nice eye-catching light and illumination.

EL Wire requires an inverter to light up.
An inverter is a small electric device operated by DC voltage. The inverter's function is to convert the low DC voltage into higher AC voltage necessary for EL Wire operation.

Why are there different types of inverters?
For optimum efficiency, the power inverter needs to be appropriate for the resistance and capacitance EL Wire characteristics, both of which are determined by the fiber length. Each inverter is designed to drive different length ranges of EL Wire. CooLight can help you select the appropriate inverter if you have any questions. Many of our inverters can be integrated with DMX and micro-controllers such as Arduino.

What types of inverters are available?
Inverters designed to light up EL Wire ranging from several inches to 328ft of wire, typical DC voltage range of 1.5vdc to 12+vdc. Longer lengths of 50+ft require 12vdc. The inverters can also be powered by a DC-to-AC wall transformers for simple plug-in power.

How do changes in electrical input affect the brightness?
Brightness is affected by both voltage and frequency. The higher the voltage or frequency, the brighter the wire. EL Wire typically operates in a range of internal voltage of 80-130+VAC (RMS), depending on the needs of the application. EL Wire can be operated at a wide range of frequency too - the most range from 450-3000Hz range. It can be operated up 8000Hz but this will reduce the useful lifetime and should only be considered where brightness is required for shorter term installations.

Can EL Wire brightness be manipulated?
Yes. Brightness level can be manipulated through both voltage and/or frequency. Choosing a higher output of frequency and/or voltage will inverter will increase brightness. Choosing lower end frequency will reduce brightness a bit and also extend useful lifetime.

Do the inverters emit sound?
The inverters do emit a slight audible pitch which is due to operating frequency and inverter component design. Standard household is 60Hz, the higher the hertz the more audible it becomes. Most EL Wire inverters operate in the 1500Hz - 3000Hz. Most of our inverters are very quiet. The inverter can also be stored in a more isolated location with lead wire connected.

Yes, EL Wire requires soldering... and, we do offer solder/connection service

Solder Step 1 - Strip outer and inner conductive sleeve off to expose coated core and two fine hairs wire. Strip wires (off-set) draw back two fine conductors and scrape white phosphor coating off tip for solder point. Put heat shrink tube over lead wire for final step.

Solder Step 2 - Solder center conductor to short lead conductor and wrap fine hair wires around the other conductor lead. TEST!

Solder Step 3 - Solder coat the fine wires.

Solder Step 4 - Slide heat shrink tube and apply heat.

End Termination Step 5 - At end of EL Wire to prevent moisture from getting in and prematurely breaking down (dark spots) the phosphor; simply place a dab of super glue or a small piece of heat shrink to seal up the end. (not pictured)

Why is EL Wire better than LED and fiber optics (emitting light from the sides)?
EL Wire provides the following advantages over neon, LED and fiber optics:

* Flexibility, braiding or looping
* Light along the entire length, 360 degrees
* Low power consumption
* Cool to the touch
* Wide range of colors
* Continuous length of operation up to 328ft/100m

What is the lifetime of EL Wire?
The useful lifetime is up to thousands of hours, depending on the frequency and voltage inputs. The useful lifetime of EL Wire is defined as the amount of time it takes for the wire's brightness to diminish to 30% of its initial brightness. Higher frequency and voltage will result in brighter wire but will shorten its useful lifetime. The EL Wire dims very gradually with use, and continues to emit a dimmed light for a long time after its useful lifetime.

What are the voltage levels are needed to operate EL Wire?
Most common inverter voltage level is between 80 -130 VAC.

What colors and diameters are available for EL Wire?
Aqua (Blue Green), Blue, Green, Lime Neon Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, Yellow, White

EL wire is most commonly available in the following diameters:
1.2 mm (0.05in). A delicate wire with a bright fine point of light
2.3mm (0.09in). When thinner wire is required
3.2mm (0.13in). Flexible, like thick spaghetti and the most versatile
5.0mm (0.2in). Thick for added durability

Examples of some EL Wire applications:

* Theater stage set design, costume design, aisle and step lighting
* Light decoration and Signage for exhibitions, events and businesses
* Integration with Clothing, Hats and Costumes
* Home theater lighting
* Interior Accent Lighting, under cabinets, trim molding
* Automobile, RV and Boat interior and exterior lighting
* Added to garments for night time activities
* Signage
* Art and Sculpture design integration
* Night guide lighting for stairs, camping
* Night time hobby drone and kite flying, whee!

Can EL Wire be used outdoors?

The 3.2 mm and 5.0 mm are recommended for outdoor use; 2.3mm is okay for limited outdoor use, clothing, limited/intermittent exposure is fine.

Can EL Wire be used for clothing and fashion applications?
Definitely! El Wire is the perfect lighting product for fantastic and safe lighting effects in textiles, fabrics, and accessories. It provides a flexible, cold, low-power, and easy to attach product for use with fashion applications with glue or loop sewing with fishing line. Garments can be dry-cleaned however there is always that pesky "waiver".

by Alexandra Wynne

Lady Gaga - Enigma (CLHB wire)

How can EL Wire be affixed?
Depending on the project and surface you are working with: clear cable clamps, clear zip ties, double stick tape (3M), channel molding, clear packing tape, hot glue, super glue and fishing line are options.

To what degree can EL Wire be bent and twisted?
The wire is very flexible and can be bent, looped and twisted. However, over-bending, for example, tying the fiber in a tight knot, may harm the wire's internal structure.

The bending diameter it recommended to be at least 5 times greater than the wire diameter.

If you touch the core, will EL Wire cause electrocution?
Touching the wire core cannot cause electrocution. Touching the core alone will have no effect whatsoever. Touching the core and the spiral fibers together while the EL Wire is connected to power or a battery, maybe produce a slight shock or "zit" (similar to touching a tongue to a 9v battery), caused by the low power short circuit.

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