Connecting EL Wires With Uninsulated Ferrules




Introduction: Connecting EL Wires With Uninsulated Ferrules

About: Electronic engineer with 25 years experience in textiles. Currently working on interactive fabrics.

EL (electroluminescent) wires require inverters to light up. Sometimes connecting them to the inverter is tricky because the wires to solder are extremely thin and they break very easily. This instructable tells you how to avoid this problem.

You will need:

- EL wire
- inverter (chose one for the length of the wire you are going to connect)
- wire stripper
- cutter or scissors
- solder iron with fine tip
- shrink tube
- hair drier
- uninsulated ferrules

Step 1: Prepare EL Wire

EL wire is made like a coaxial cable, so there is one inner copper conductor covered with a phosphorus paint and one external conductor made of two fine wires. Everything is then covered by an external plastic colored cover. Proceed by stripping approximately 8 mm - 10 mm (0.3") of the external plastic cover. Do it gently, so the two small wires are not damaged.

At this point you will be able to see the inner conductor covered by the phosphorus layer and the outer conductors, the two fine wires.

Using the cutter blade scratch the phosphorus paint out of the inner copper conductor for approximately 4 mm (0.16"). Be careful to remove it completely or welding will result difficult. Be careful not to cut the two fine wires. The EL wire must look approximately like the one in the last picture.

Step 2: Placing Uninsulated Ferrule and Crimping

Now you can proceed by depositating some solder on the inner conductor, maybe using some solder paste.
Get a uninsulated ferrule and place it on the EL wire, so that the two small wires remain inside the ferrule. Slide it on the EL wire as indicated in the pictures.
Using a pair of pliers crimp the ferrule around the EL wire as shown in the picture. If the diameter of the ferrule is correct the two fine wires will be kept in good contact with the ferrule. The ferrule will also be sturdily attached to the EL wire external PVC sleeve.

Step 3: Soldering

Place shrinking tube (two different diameters) on EL and on inverter wires.

Proceed by soldering one of the inverter wires to the external side of the ferrule, and the other one to the innner EL wire copper wire. It is not important which inverter wire you solder to the EL wire inner copper conductor.

Step 4: Insulating

Slide the smaller shrink tube over the copper wire connection and shrink the tube with an air drier. Then slide the larger shrink tube over both connections and shrink it with the air drier. 

You can buy uninsulated ferrules for 1.2 mm EL wires and inverters on

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    7 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Hello! Thanks so much for this guide, I am really looking forward to using this technique to strengthen my connections. What size ferrules do you use?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    For 1.2 mm EL wire I use 1.5 or 1.6 mm diameter. From my experience using a crimping tool gives better results, but they are pretty expensive. If not just use pliers.


    Thanks for the well-written, concise, and effective guide. Hopefully it will get many new users of EL wire started on their creations. I think it would be neat if you posted some photographs of your best mods that use EL wire, to demonstrate what it can do. For instance, here is a picture of my mountain bike. Also, the use of uninsulated ferrules is rather ill-defined, conductive copper-tape works very well for this purpose, and can be found on eBay, or in the gardening areas of some hardware stores (a rim of copper tape prevents pests from climbing over the rim of a ceramic pot).


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! Uninsulated ferrules are small tin copper tubes used for connecting electric wires. You can find them here . I will post some of my creations as soon as I have one, I'm now concentrating more on 'raw materials' and techniques.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Those are actually a really good idea for preparing EL wires, I think I may switch from copper tape to these ferrules. In seeing the name as "bootlace" ferrules, I'm guessing that their original intention was as a shoelace aglet? Nonetheless, thanks for your guide, it's now motivated me to go and use up my stocks of EL wire just sitting at home, I think I can use them in updating our church's youth-group room.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    How did this get by with no comments or votes?!

    Great instructable!

    I would think soldering the ferrule might cause damage to the outer casing to the el wire - obviously it doesnt.  If it becomes problematic, a person could pre-tin a dot of solder on the ferrule so that adding the connection wire would only take a very brief second and ensure no cold solder joints :)

    Great stuff!