Introduction: EL Panel Lantern

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!

Picture of 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.


guerroloco (author)2014-05-21

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

findmarc (author)2014-05-20

Sweet lamp!

I found a good new source for the panels here and
here They were the best prices I've
found in the US.

Wackey Alex (author)2012-11-10

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.

rotor (author)2006-04-18

"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.

hayedid (author)rotor2011-04-28

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. (author)2006-04-18

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

hayedid (author)ronin.ca2011-04-28

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.

javier22 (author)2010-02-12

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.

hayedid (author)javier222011-04-28

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.

elpanel (author)javier222010-09-14

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.

guerroloco (author)javier222010-02-12

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.

lonerayven (author)2009-04-23

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 as said by batibol.

elpanel (author)lonerayven2010-09-14

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

lonerayven (author)elpanel2010-09-14


batibol (author)2008-08-18

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

led235 (author)2008-03-08

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

Mr. Rig It (author)2007-10-15

Very cool. This one is gong into my favs.

myeyesdeceive (author)2006-05-22

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.

Hey,friend ,we are EL panel supplier in China with many years experience . if you interested in our products, please login our website:

Q-Branch (author)Arcan32006-12-29

e-clec-tech has EL panels.

besilly (author)2006-08-19

sounds like a great project! Hey I am new to this site but have a question I thought you might be able to answer. I have a Chrysler (GEM) Electric Car powered by 6 12 volt batteries running (I believe) in a series. I have just purchased six 5 watt solar panels (14" x 10.5 " each). I plan to mount them onthe GEM roof. Any thoughts on how to connect them up? I was thinking of directly hooking each individual panel to its' own battery. The guy I bought them from suggested installing a master disconnect switch to stop the flow of electricity when I plug the car in. Any thoughts?

guerroloco (author)2006-04-21

Bad news -- I contaced Windsor and they are completely sold out of the EL (cheapo) panels. Oh well! Next time I run across a deal like this one, I'll be sure to buy extras....

leevonk (author)2006-04-20

what is josie? also, in case anybody wants some, I know they sell these panels at

guerroloco (author)leevonk2006-04-20

josie is my calico kitty. I've seen the panels at; they are larger but also more expensive than the ones I got from Windsor. Looks like Windsor no longer has the small-order package of 25 panels, though; at least, they don't appear on the small-orders list, even thogh the product page says "CLICK HERE FOR SMALL QUANTITY ORDER", so I don't know. The panels are a real bargain at $0.19 each, but I wouldn't want to buy 250 of them.

rgbphil (author)2006-04-18

Looks very nice, a good use of EL tiles in the style of a japanese lantern. One question, I've used cheapo EL wire but they fade brightness after a few months......have you noticed any fading on this yet?

guerroloco (author)rgbphil2006-04-18

well for one thing, i think this (the flat panels) is a different technology from the EL wire. I work with EL wire quite a lot -- will have an instructable soon on some EL wire projects I've been working on -- and it's not the same. For one thing, EL wire uses high-frequency AC; house current won't work. I have not noticed any fading of the panels yet. As for the fading wire, all EL wire wears out eventually, sooner or later depending on the voltage and frequencies you use. The cheap chinese EL wire is not as good as the Lytec, but it willl all fade over time.

guerroloco (author)2006-04-18

I think they are sometimes used in night lights, yes, although most EL night lights cast a bluer color.

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