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Light by Wire
Technical Q & A

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  Q1: What is Electroluminescence (EL)?  
  • Electroluminescence, used for EL-wires, describes a category of luminescence were electrical energy is converted to light inside a solid dielectric without the need of an pn-junction and without generation of heat. This draws a clear distinction to LED's and is the reason for its second name cool-light. Accelerated by an AC electrical field the excited electrons cause the emission of a soft light evenly throughout the electroluminescent (EL) material. Similar to a capacitor the AC-voltage is applied on an outer and inner metal-electrode with the EL-material in between as the dielectric. The typical frequency is around 1.5kHz the voltage about 100Vrms.

  Q2: What is inside the EL-Wire?  
  • Unlike light-panels and OLED's the Electroluminescence-wires are constructed in circular symmetry, so the light shines evenly over the full 360° of the circumflex and on the full length of the wire. The inner electrode is a solid copper-wire that also provides the mechanical strength. The outer electrode is made by a pair of thin wires that provide enough space between them so that the glowing dielectric stays fully visible. Because the conductivity of the electrodes is high and the current-flow through the electroluminescent material is low. EL-wire has the same brightness up to a few hundred meters, even the electrodes are connected to the AC-source on one end of the wire only.

Neonstring construction
  Q3: Are EL-Wires dimmable?  
  • Yes, Electroluminescence-wires are dimmable by controlling the DC supply-voltage of the inverter. For all inverters with an external power-supply the EL-voltage and hence the brightness will follow the input voltage. Operation starts at around 50% of the nominal voltage (6VDC) and reach its maximum brightness at 100% (12VDC).

  Q4: The Inverter makes a noise  
  • Electroluminescence is driven by an AC-voltage with a frequency between 1 and 2kHz. Even we do have the lowest noise-level on the market a vibration of the transformer-windings inside the inverter can not be avoided completly. Unfortunately the human ear is quite sensitive to the resulting whistling sound. There are two countermeasures:
    1) Cover the Inverter with Acrylic from the DIY-store (Silicone will have ne effect)
    2) For critical applications at home hide the inverter in the neighboring room or in the wall.     The twin-cable between inverter and EL-wire can be several meters long.

  Q5: How to fix the EL-wire on a surface?  
  • EL-wire can be glued, sewed or fit in a groove. While the wire is flexible and robust, avoid permanent stretching above 1kg, areas of great pressure or bending that will cause a deforming of the wire. For more mounting hints see here:  Mounting/DIY .

  Q6: What are the electrial Properties?  
  • EL-wires are driven by sinus shaped voltage of about 100Vrms amplitude. The frequency should be about 1.5kHz. With these parameters EL-wire consumes approximately 10mA/Meter and the maximum of lifetime and brightness is achieved. Our inverters with battery or external DC-supply generate this optimal EL-voltage.
  Q7: Installations without power-cable?  
Battery for outdoor
  • A combination of two car batteries in series and a DC-DC converter will supply even a huge outdoor illumination project.

  Q8: What is needed to run EL-Wires?  
  • (1) The EL-wire, (2) an inverter, (3) batteries or a power-supply to run from the 230VAC plug. Additionally you would need soldering material, shrinkage tube and superglue.
    (See the hints at Mounting/DIY ).
  Q9: Shipment costs / delivery times?
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