EL Panel Lantern

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Introduction: EL Panel Lantern

I bought a cheap lot of 25 electroluminescent panels from Windsor Distributors a couple years ago, finally got around to making something out of them....

Step 1: Connecting Individual EL Panels

I had 25 EL panels, each about 2.75" X 1.25", and made a 5-sided "night light" with 5 EL panels on each "pane" or side.

I don't have photos of the manufacture of the individual 5-panel panes. However, the basic idea is visible in the photo. Each of the 5 EL panels was attached to a piece of acrylic with a dab of hot glue, with the two leads passing through small holes to the back side. One lead from each EL panel was bent to the left and the other to the right. Then I laid 6" stripped copper wires across the left and right sets of leads, and soldered the leads to the wires. More hot glue secured the wires to keep them from wiggling around and possibly breaking the delicate leads.

Step 2: Gluing and Connecting the Panes

I constructed a "cradle" out of scrap wood to hold two panes at the correct 108° angle, so that when all the panes were glued, they should form a perfect pentagon. I used special emblem cement; it's about the consistency of honey and would drip off if I tried to glue vertically. When dried, the corners were slightly flexible, so it needed some additional support when I glued the final pane in place. Finally I glued on a pentagonal base plate, somewhat larger than the main body. The top is held on by threaded rods, fitted through brass tubing with brass capnuts on each end.

Step 3: Finished!

The EL panels run off of regular AC house current, so all that was left to do was get some lamp cord, connect all the red wires to one cord wire and all the white wires to the other, and add a switch and plug.

Originally I thought that 25 panels would produce more light, so my idea was to make this a small desk lamp or bedside reading light. However, it doesn't produce enough light to read by, so I made it a hanging light instead. It seems about as bright as the full moon shining through a window, and it looks really cool from outside, like a glowing japanese paper lantern.

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    28 Comments

    Wow, good find. Those are some really good prices on EL stuff.

    The reason the EL panels aren't as bright as they could be is because they are meant to be used with a proper inverter, they still work on regular AC from the wall as you stated.

    "The EL panels run off of regular AC house current" I've been wondering about that - someone told me they needed 120v at 1KHz or something, so I've stayed away from these. Now that I know different, I'll be trying them soon. Great project idea, nicely executed.

    1 reply

    Rotor, they will run of U.S. power line frequencies (60Hz); however, they will be dim. To get a bright light from EL Panels, you must run at a higher frequency. Inverters can be purchased for under 10 bucks though.

    Stupid question, are these the same things that are showing up as night lights?

    1 reply

    I bought some EL night lights several years ago... the problem is that most of them run off 120V AC / 60 Hz... which causes the nightlight to be very dim.

    Help!!!!!!!!!! I would like to know how I can convert the 110v ac power to 12v dc to install the el panels in my car or motorcycle.

    3 replies

    EL Panels don't run off 12V DC. They run off AC power. I disagree with guerroloco though. An inverter from WalMart would turn on your EL wire or EL panels; however, it would be running at 60Hz which would be very dim. Look up EL Wire on ebay and buy an EL wire inverter from there. Doing so, you should get the correct connectors and it will run at 1200 or more Hz which will give you a nice bright wire.

    I think there is no good idea to convert it,it's better that you buy one DC12V inverter,please note that the el panel can not very big,because DC12V can drive small size el panel only.

    If you mean you need to convert your car's 12VDC battery power to 110VAC, just use an inverter. You can get one in any Walmart or auto parts store.

    Hoping to find 'inexpensive' EL panels/sheets at least A4 size for my art project. >,< If anyone has any links please request, currently looking at glowtron.com as said by batibol.

    2 replies

    what's your e-mail address?I would like to send you an e-mail.

    i just bought my custom el panels from www.glowtron.com , am trying to attempt to make something really cool with it

    Anyone know where i can get EL Panels for under $10.00? please let me know. Great Instructable man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111

    Very cool. This one is gong into my favs.

    I just searched everywhere and came back with nothing. Has anyone seen cheap el panels around this size I have a bunch of ideas for them and would love to build smaller versions of these "lanterns" for my deck.

    2 replies

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