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What are Different Types of EL Wire?

EL wire is popular among artists who may use it to create a variety of displays and artistic pieces.
EL wire may be used for a variety of projects, but should not be used on those that require indefinite display.
EL wire may be used on clothing and costumes.
EL wire may be used on shoes.
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  • Written By: Shannon Kietzman
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Images By: Joe Loong, Benjamin Hollis, See-Ming Lee, Becky Stern
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2014
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Electroluminescent (EL) wire is sold in many forms. One can purchase EL wire based on length, color, and thickness. Each of these characteristics affects the possible applications of the wire and should be used to determine which type to purchase.

EL wire can be purchased in many lengths, ranging from a few inches to hundreds of feet, much like ordinary wire. Depending on the length, a different power inverter is used, thereby ensuring that the entire wire is lit properly. EL wire is sold in green, blue, aqua, white, yellow, pink, red, orange, lime, and purple. These colors make EL wires suitable for many applications, but have little effect on what can be done with them.

EL wire length affects how much total wire is available for the application. At the same time, EL wire can be spliced to add length if necessary. Therefore, the only factor that truly affects the performance of the EL wire is its thickness.

EL wire is sold in three thicknesses: 2.3 millimeter, 3.2 millimeter, and 5 millimeter. For most short-term purposes, a 2.3 millimeter section of EL wire is useful, as it can easily be bent to any shape and will be very thin in appearance. It offers little ultraviolet (UV) protection, however, though this will not matter if the project is short-term.

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The 3.2 millimeter EL wire is useful for projects that place less importance on a fine look. It offers more UV protection than 2.3 millimeter EL wire, but is still not a good choice for projects that must be displayed indefinitely.

Finally, 5 millimeter EL wire is much less flexible than the 2.3 millimeter variety, but is still easy to bend. It offers the best UV protection, and is therefore suitable for long-term displays. However, it produces a rather thick glow. Therefore, it is not suitable for fine displays.

EL wire does not burn out, but it does burn down. The length of this process depends on the length and voltage of the current being transferred through the wire. If the current is high-voltage, the wire will glow brighter but burn down more rapidly. Therefore, replacement of the wire will be necessary in more long-term applications.

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