EL Inverter - 12v

EL inverters allow you to drive EL (electroluminescent) wires. This particular EL inverter accepts a 12 VDC wall adapter. The output is terminated with a JST PH connector, so it plugs directly into the input on the EL Escudo or EL Sequencer board. You can drive EL wires with them directly, but you may need to re-terminate them. There is also a small switch on the side which allows you to switch between 'on', 'off', and 'blink' settings.

Note: These should be good to drive 10-15m worth of EL wire.

(The video states they are 6 foot in length, but they are actually 10 feet in length)

EL Inverter - 12v Product Help and Resources

Getting Started with Electroluminescent (EL) Wire

July 13, 2018

This guide will help you get started with electroluminescent (EL) wire, tape, panel, chasing wire, and bendable wire to let your project glow!

EL Sequencer/Escudo Dos Hookup Guide

December 3, 2015

A basic guide to getting started with the SparkFun EL Sequencer and Escudo Dos to control electroluminescence (EL) wire, panels, and strips.

Modifying Your EL Wire Inverter

July 18, 2019

In this tutorial, we will modify the 12V EL wire inverter to power the EL Sequencer/EL Escudo Dos off a single power supply.

Core Skill: Electrical Prototyping

If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.

1 Electrical Prototyping

Skill Level: Noob - You don't need to reference a datasheet, but you will need to know basic power requirements.
See all skill levels


Looking for answers to technical questions?

We welcome your comments and suggestions below. However, if you are looking for solutions to technical questions please see our Technical Assistance page.

  • mgrusin / about a year ago / 1

    Do you have a replacement for this retired product? Or any way to drive the EL products that you still sell? ;)

  • Member #1037434 / about 6 years ago / 1

    Guys, I want to use this inverter to made a ambilight in my car. What would I need to make it work safe?

  • Jonathan Bruneau / about 12 years ago / 4

    For those who are wondering, the barrel plug is center positive (this was confirmed by Sparkfun's Tech Support).

  • Member #434944 / about 9 years ago / 2

    BEWARE: This inverter burned out the terminals on about $50 worth of EL panels I was using to design a display. It burned out 5 pieces in less than a minute. I put the multimeter on this inverter and the output is 175v at 2.88k hz, much too high for many smaller applications. I sent a complaint to Spark Fun, but they did not even acknowledge my message.

  • Nomad / about 10 years ago / 2

    Bought this (because I had a 12v wall wart) to run a single 3m section of wire. Hooking the 3m length of wire to the 12v inverter made the inverter smell of O3, from my single test it seems 3m isn't enough load for this inverter (as other posters have mentioned). The "hum" was very loud and the 'blink' setting was not functional.

    To remedy this I put a 10nF cap and ~180K ohm resistor in parallel with the EL wire (all 3 components are in parallel with each other + the inverter), this simulated having 2m more EL wire inline with the single wire. Hope this helps others, tracking down the formula for EL wire took some time.

  • Hey, I'm using this with the recommended EL Escudo Dos and 12v Wall Wart from Sparkfun and ran into some trouble. After trying multiple outlets with <1m of EL Wire, the MOSFET in the Inverter is burning out the inverter! I have ordered another just in case this is a fluke. I wondered if anyone would know what might be causing it. I thoroughly checked the Escudo for shorts and verified the output of the wall wart and the inverter were within the correct ranges. None of my EL wire lit up and none of the components on the Escudo produced any heat. Any ideas I could use to troubleshoot while I wait for the replacement?

  • Member #42427 / about 8 years ago / 1

    This inverter appears to be a simple resonator, with its frequency dependent on the capacitance of the load - proportional to the area of EL material connected with it. The greater the amount of EL, the lower the frequency, and the lower the light output. I haven't found a way to de-tune the resonator to reduce its sensitivity to the EL capacitance (surface area).

    Does anyone know of a proper inverter that doesn't have output frequency or voltage affected by varying EL (capacitive) loads on it?

    Using this inverter with any kind of sequencer or dimmer (such as the El Escudo) will result in unintended effects - as more EL circuits are turned on, the dimmer they will all become. Depending on the synchronization of PWM, some very bizarre effects can occur.

    In the meantime, I'm designing my own inverter to eliminate these problems.

  • What is the minimum distance apart the output terminals must be to arc?

  • dwavo / about 9 years ago / 1

    data sheet says 9 watts at 12 volts. so this is .75 amps . i wish they had larger more robust inverters.

  • Member #595764 / about 9 years ago / 1

    Hi, i just bought some El Sequencers to light up dance customes... I bought some 12V(the biggest one) inverters from sparkfun too. In the description for the inverter it says it can drive 10-15m... but my customes will have like 30m of el wire. What can i do to light up all this 30m?

  • Member #381331 / about 9 years ago / 1

    How I can drive more than 10-15m of EL wire? There are more powerful inverter?

  • MySpleen / about 9 years ago / 1

    Would powering this from my hacked battery holder, 8 AA to barrel jack, work? Or should I use a different portable power source?

  • Member #516750 / about 9 years ago / 1

    What are the exact dimensions of the inverter?

  • qrry / about 10 years ago / 1

    Could I adjust brightness by PWMing the 12v input line to adjust voltage? Would that effect inverter lifespan or audible noise? I plan to use this to drive the EL sequencer and adjust brightness for all channels at once.

    • MikeGrusin / about 10 years ago * / 1

      That may work, but it would depend on the design of the EL inverter. We haven't tried it. Another option is to replace one of the adjustment resistors on the EL Sequencer's linear regulator with a digital potentiometer; this way you could vary the voltage powering the inverter.

      • dwavo / about 9 years ago / 1

        looking to get some values for those resistors or pots. i bought their 12v inverter and would like to get 12v from the el-sequencer board. one option is to wire shut the J1 connector. i just don't know how to do the calculation for the LM power regualtor.

  • karma0 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Is it possible to get a schematic? I have a number of these that went bad when I bought a batch of cables from Spark Fun with several mis-wired connectors (red and black were swapped). I was thinking initially that it was the 555 timers that went bad, but now I'm not so sure.

  • Member #455362 / about 10 years ago / 1

    why not use an AC to AC power supply? I'm really curious

    • Member #591839 / about 8 years ago / 2

      Finally something I can answer! Its really hard to change the wavelength of AC power. EL lights run best at ~100V and ~2KHertz, while your wall outlet is 120V and 60 Hertz. You need to covert it to DC then back to AC.

  • Member #439785 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Can one of these be modified to be powered with batteries? I'm looking to power an A4 EL sheet but need it to be portable, powered by 8 AAs. Also, if i could mod, would one of these be enough to power the A4 or would i need more? thanks

    • Kamiquasi / about 10 years ago / 1

      Should be fine for the A4 sheet (note that you can't easily 'mix' two inverters anyway, so if there were an issue, you'd have to find a more beefy one instead).

      If you already have a battery holder and leads, then you can certainly modify this product. Just open up the casing (looks like it's a screw+tabs), de-solder the barrel jack socket, and solder your leads in place (mind your polarity!)

      If you don't, then I don't think you need to modify it, per se. You could buy 2 x Battery Holder - 4xAA Square and 1 x Barrel Jack Extension Cable - M-F (3 ft), screw the two battery holders together, solder the leads together to form a series connection, cut the extension cable to have the plug + whatever length of wire you need, and solder that to the newborn 8-battery holder, you can plug that straight into this inverter without any modifications needed to it.
      ( Note that the only reason I suggest getting the extension cable is because SparkFun currently don't offer a regular leaded connector. They do sell the kind you solder together yourself, but that can be a headache to properly put together for strain relief. )

      Alternatively, SparkFun also sells the Battery Holder - 4xAA to Barrel Jack Connector which has a barrel jack connector already connected to it, and you could buy 1 of those and 1 without the connector - the lead to the connector is a fair bit shorter, though.

  • Member #434800 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Will this inverter work with the power from a motherboard fan 12v connector? I have a mini ITX that I am using for an HTPC that I want to use. Thanks

    • MikeGrusin / about 10 years ago / 1

      If the 12V is coming from the power supply (and isn't for example "throttled" by the motherboard for variable speed fan use), then yes it should work great!

  • This is much more expensive than the battery pack inverter, also has more power output. Would this make the EL wire glow brighter than the battery pack? (Or the 3V inverter)

    • MikeGrusin / about 10 years ago / 1

      Part of it has to do with how much EL wire you want to drive. The 3V / battery inverters can make a small amount of EL wire (one or two meters) glow brightly. But the 12V inverter can drive many meters of EL wire to high brightness.

      • Ah, so what would be the optimal length of EL wire for each inverter?

        • MikeGrusin / about 10 years ago / 1

          For the battery pack you don't want to run more than two strands (6m) of EL or it will burn out, see the product page for more information. The 3V inverter won't burn out, but it will become noticeably dimmer with more than one or two strands. The 12V inverter will run 5 to 10 strands (15m to 30m) before becoming noticeably dimmer.

  • I'm confused. The video says that the invereter plugs right into the wall, but the picture looks like you need to plug it into a power supply that you have to buy sepereately. Is there a different inverter that just plugs into the wall?

    • Kamiquasi / about 10 years ago / 2

      The video is quite old, from the January 6th, 2011 Friday New Product post. In that post it was announced that they would start carrying it soon, but didn't have it in yet.

      The next New Product Post, the January 15th, 2011 Saturday (because Free Day interfered!) New Product post does mention the product, and has the link. However, the product (COM-10202), has been retired and they will not be getting any more of them as they never quite intended to actually get them with the wallwart included :)

      Even if there's an inverter out there that 'just' plugs into the wall, I'm not sure that's actually preferable - unless you have a particular use application where you can't have any barrel jacks - since the separate adapter means you can replace that separately, shop around, etc.

  • StereoVision / about 10 years ago / 1

    Hi! Exactly how manay meters of EL Wire can the inverter handle? I'm working on a project wich may use 300m

  • axipher / about 10 years ago / 1

    I'm looking to install this in my car to run some EL-wire in my trunk around my sound equipment. can this inverter handle 11 - 14 V fluctuations?

  • Member #412002 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Done "y" cable to connect that to 3 elwires. http://jjlf.blogspot.fr/2013/03/cable-en-y-pour-elwire.html this comment page was VERY useful. Especially when it happens that my 12v adapter was broken and i suspected something worst.

  • Member #314564 / about 10 years ago / 1

    This guy puts out ~170 VAC. Surprising, since the datasheet quotes 90. The datasheet is pretty poor. It is true that it outputs ~2000Hz.

  • Member #402281 / about 10 years ago / 1

    The description states: "The output is terminated with a JST PH connector, so it plugs directly into the input on the EL Escudo or EL Sequencer board. You can drive EL wires with them directly, but you may need to re-terminate them." I'm not sure what this is saying. I need to re-terminate the EL wires if I drive them with those other boards, or if I drive them directly with the inverter? What is meant by re-terminate here? Thanks.

    • MikeGrusin / about 10 years ago / 1

      What we were trying somewhat unsuccessfully to say, is that this EL Inverter and our EL Wires have identical connectors, so if you wanted to go directly from this inverter to a wire, you can't plug one into the other. (That's only for a direct connection; if you're using any of our boards, everything is fine.)

      If you DO want to plug our EL wire / tape / panel directly into this inverter, you'd want to cut off the existing connector on the inverter and attach one of these, or the similar connector that comes with this pigtail. (Personally I like the second one as it's not as tight as the first one).

      That's what we meant by re-terminate, which may be a term better left to the robopocalypse. Sorry for the confusion!

  • Would this work with the inverter, or would I have better luck with something that is 12 volts and not 11.1.

    • MikeGrusin / about 10 years ago / 1

      That will work nicely. The 12V inverter will run on less than 12V (down to 5V or so), it will just get progressively dimmer. At 11.1V, it will still be very bright.

  • Matt23 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Would it be possible to use this inverter with a 12v (4-Pin) Molex connector from a computer power supply? The PSU says the output of the +12v molex supplies up to 0.6 A, and considering that this runs between 0.4 A and 0.75 A, this should be ok?

    • MikeGrusin / about 10 years ago / 1

      That should work fine (PC power supplies are very useful for this), but are you sure your supply is only 0.6A at 12V? I thought ATX supplies in general could provide 10s of Amps at 12V...

      • Matt23 / about 10 years ago / 1

        My mistake, I just quickly glanced at the minimum power output. The maximum is 44A. So essentially, if paired directly together, the 12V inverter would only consume the maximum amps required to run? Or will I have to limit the current?

        • MikeGrusin / about 10 years ago / 2

          You got it; 44A are available if needed, but the inverter (or anything else) will only use what it needs to operate. No current limiting is needed, although with that many amps available, you might consider fusing the power line in case there's a short. (Such protection may already be built into the PSU.) Have fun!

  • ._.Bridman / about 11 years ago / 1

    What modes does this have?

  • donryanocero / about 11 years ago / 1

    I just got this inverter and it emits a very quiet high frequency sound that is really annoying. Basically I can't use the inverter anywhere quiet without it driving me nuts. Just a heads up.

    Is this normal?

    • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 1

      It is normal for the inverter to make noise. If you're in a quiet location and the noise is annoying, you could try wrapping it in foam to deaden it.

  • MostThingsWeb / about 11 years ago / 1

    How noisy is this inverter?

    • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 1

      As in audio noise? To my ears it's very quiet but does emit a hum that changes in pitch depending on the load.

      • MostThingsWeb / about 11 years ago / 1

        Audio noise, yes (I should have specified). Thanks!

  • what kind of blinking will the inverter do with a single light? ten times a second, 5 times a second, or what? What kind of blinking are we talkin about here!! lolz

  • Member #329369 / about 11 years ago / 1

    can you take this inverter, cut the output wires. and turn it in to two outputs or more for multiple EL things with out using a controller?

  • Mr. Bell / about 11 years ago / 1

    How do you hook it up? Does the barrel plug get the 12 volt power and it outputs the ac on the red and black wires, or is it the other way around?

  • Striker121 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Does the switch actually control the voltage or it is some kind of 5v/whatever switch that a chip inside monitors? I'm wondering because if it's just monitored by some chip then I could make the lighting in my system be controlled by an Arduino fairly easily.

  • Florisdehaan / about 12 years ago / 1

    Is it safe to use this inverter with 3m of EL wire ?

    • Zeph0s / about 11 years ago * / 1

      3m would be safe. In fact, the less wire, the safer. But in any case, I think this device is set up so if you overload it, it just dims the output.

      FYI, according to that datasheet, the "wire" is basically a 3m long capacitor. Adding length increases the capacitance, which increases the power draw.

    • ndrizza / about 11 years ago * / 1

      yes, i wonder too what will happen if i just light up 3m of el wire altough he requires 10 - 15m. what's the worst that can happen? is this not recommended?

  • David / about 12 years ago / 1

    Can anyone post its dimensions?

    • David / about 12 years ago / 1

      I ended up buying it, dimensions are 28.75x34x53.75mm. I also took it apart and the case is only slightly larger than its contents at the end with the power cord coming in (there is a transformer) so it would be hard to reduce the '28.75mm' dimension. The other end of the case could be reduced if your design required it.

  • KerwinLumpkins / about 12 years ago / 1

    Hello. the link for Datasheet seems to be broken.

  • Arice / about 12 years ago / 1

    I recently bought one of these and had it hooked up to a single strand of el wire directly. I left it on for about an hour on the "on" setting, not the blinking setting. Now the blinking doesn't work, it only dims slightly, then goes back to normal. I used a 12v wall wart fyi.
    Did I do something wrong?

    • Member #46799 / about 12 years ago / 1

      That depends, how long was the strand? It is my understanding that there is a minimum length of EL wire upon which inverters like to operate. While they can drive less they wear out faster. This particular inverter seems to want a minimum of 10 meters (about 33 feet). It appears that sparkfun only sells in lengths of 3m so only using one strand may have done some damage to the inverter.
      Of course I may be misinformed and this could be completely wrong. I don't know the math to back up my claims and the datasheet seems less than comprehensive.

      • c17657 / about 11 years ago / 1

        Ran into a similar issue, after cutting one strand to a slightly shorter length it would no longer blink. This was fixed by adding another length on to increase load from the inverter. Basically the inverter is designed for a longer length (heavier load) and the residual power available when the blinking function goes to zero output is still enough to keep the shorter length lit. There was no permanent damage to my inverter it simply needed a heavier load to dissipate the power it produced.

  • Member #117948 / about 12 years ago / 1

    Very Poor spec sheet on this product.
    What are the dimensions, how much does it weight etc.

  • Blueblast88 / about 12 years ago / 1

    do you NEED this to drive el wire or can i use a 12 volt supply to do it

    • Kamiquasi / about 12 years ago / 1

      You need it. The inverter basically turns the 12V DC power into something like 90V high frequency (2000Hz) AC power required to make the EL wire actually light up.
      If you're looking for something that will work with DC power, try a LED and some lightpipe.

  • TimFirebird / about 12 years ago / 1

    Can someone fix the page.
    I tried to autonotify, but the video is on top of the autonotify field.
    I can only click cancel now

  • fle33.com / about 12 years ago / 1

    Will this work with the el-sequencer?

  • Member #183593 / about 12 years ago / 1

    Wow, I just bought the 3.3 volt inverter about 3 days ago seeing that you didn't have 12 volt inverter. Is there anyway I could send back the 3.3 inverter unopened to exchange the 2?

    • Young Maker / about 12 years ago / 3

      dude, im not from sparkfun, but you should email tech support. the'll know what to do.

    • jairus / about 11 years ago * / 1

      ISSUE SOLVED********* Inverter Issue is related to the Ground wire, Ground on the board needs to be tied to the ground of the inverter source(gnd of dc not the high voltage line!) or the TRIACS will not work correctly. Hope this helps, I found this out accidentally when I was probing with my voltmeter the lights would come on. Its a little frustrating I burned out 2 EL wires due to arcing in the traces I induced by tapping the grounds together while troubleshotting.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5

Based on 4 ratings:

Currently viewing all customer reviews.

1 of 1 found this helpful:

Works fine

Seems to work fine so far. The lights had the same connector so we had to cut them out and hand wire the cables. You'd think the two would know about each other's connectors.

3 of 3 found this helpful:

Nice product

Nicely built, however the unit is not encased in hard epoxy so there is a loud high pitch wine when it is powered. This is caused by the transformer winding's vibrating with the high frequency. It can be greatly reduced by encasement.

1 of 1 found this helpful:

Worked well

Opened up the houseing and tied in the components into another board to control pretty easily

awesome fix!

I have an el-wire sign that I put out at Christmas. The previous year I only had battery packs to power the wires, and I had to change the batteries every other night. Talked with the folks at sparkfun about switching to 12v and they set me up with exactly what I needed. 1 minute spent to convert my system and now the sign stays bright 24/7 without any maintenance!