EL Inverter - Battery Pack

Even though the Tron movies have been out for a while, electroluminescence is still the coolest thing since sliced bread. The only downer is carrying around a battery pack and bulky external inverter. Good news, we've found a slim battery-powered inverter for your next small EL project! This little black box takes two AA batteries and has two JST connectors for your EL wire/panel/tape. There are two modes: continuous on and flashing and it even has a belt clip!

We got a chance to play with these inverters and you can easily hack these to work with our Li-Po batteries (yep, at the fully charged 4.2V). To get inside, you'll need to remove a pair of screws (one is hiding under the CE sticker) and afterwards you'll want to wrap things up with electrical tape to avoid getting shocked (it just tingles a little).

The following current readings were taken while the pack was connected to one or more of our 3m EL wire:

  • Single strand always on: 190 to 260mA
  • Single strand blinking: 90 to 120mA
  • Two strands always on: ~300mA
  • Two strands blinking: ~150mA

    Different color strands were used but the lengths were identical. Your mileage may vary. If you need to pick up some Li-Po batteries, electrical tape or EL wire to hack your own battery pack, check the related items below!

  • 20 x 34 x 90mm

EL Inverter - Battery Pack 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!

Pokémon Go Patches with EL Panels

August 3, 2016

Add a cloth stencil over EL panels to create glowing logos and designs.

EL Wire Pants

July 18, 2019

In this tutorial, we will sew standard electroluminescent (EL) wire to a pair of pants.

EL Wire Hoodie

October 24, 2018

In this tutorial, we will sew standard electroluminescent (EL) wire to a hoodie.

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.

  • iConfabulated / about 9 years ago / 1

    Welp... Mine burned out in about 5 seconds with 4xAAs. About 5.2V with fully charged batteries. And I have my event tomorrow night...sooo now to scramble and try to find a transistor to replace Q1 : (

  • Rawr / about 9 years ago / 1

    Will this make a high-pitched sound like other inverters? some do, some don't. Since I'm making something to wear I would rather not be annoyed by it all day.

  • Member #617437 / about 10 years ago / 1

    I would like to hack this, removing the power botton so I can turn it on with an Lilypad (arduino), does anyone know how?

    • Iron man / about 9 years ago / 1

      The use a simple push button, if you can power a relay with a lily pad that would be your best way of doing so.

  • Member #432979 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Burned out from 2 strips -.- Annoyed. Money down the drain. First time using it.

    Apparently 2 strips was ok, guess not. "Note: We’ve found that while the inverter has no trouble powering two strands of EL wire, it can burn itself out if you attach two EL panels or strips. If you need more than one EL panel or EL tape, you may want to look at our other EL inverters."

    Any advice for fixing it? what burns out?

    • Email techsupport@sparkfun. They should be able to help you figure out what specifically is fried. Sorry to hear you had these troubles!

  • Member #474921 / about 10 years ago / 1

    My inverter has a high pitched hum, I'm guessing because of how it generates the high frequency needed to light the wire.

    Is there anything I can do to make it quiet?

  • dksmall / about 10 years ago / 1

    I would like to connect 2 short EL wires to the output of this pack. Do the outputs blink at the same time or is one on while the other is off? Would prefer the later, so if not, would it be easy to hack to get the outputs to alternate?

    • I believe these blink at the same time. I am not aware of anyone attempting to hack these to alternate, but if you are successful in doing it, please let us know!

  • Nutrimatic / about 10 years ago / 1

    What sort of lengths of wire can one inverter drive? I’d like to run 4 separate wires with a total length of about 1.5m from just one driver. How easy would it be to add a kind of JST "splitter" to run 4 wires from the existing 2 wire sockets?

  • tetsujin / about 10 years ago / 1

    If you gut this thing to use the inverter with a different power source, how big is the board?

  • Grimjack73 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Hacked one today , I used the left over barrel jack from the 12 volt inverter ( https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10469) after doing the mod listed in the tutorial for El Wire(https://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/353). The barrel jack makes it easy to connect to the 4 cell battery pack (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/9835). Ran it for about 5 minutes in each setting driving two of the 3m El Wire strands, nice and bright, no puff. Tried my luck with a 9 volt battery pack (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10512) it puffed in under a second. Good luck guys.

    • Why did you go up to 9V out of curiosity?

      • Grimjack73 / about 11 years ago / 1

        I ordered 9 of them since the price was great on them. Had already slated 3 to be taken apart, figured might as well test different voltage out of curiosity. The common point in the thread was that they seemed dim with 3 volts and two strands. So when I saw it worked at 6v wanted to see what would happen at 9v. I know the logic is a bit flawed, but having the barrel jack , and arduino battery packs laying around on the bench curiosity got the best of me.

        • Grimjack73 / about 11 years ago / 1

          I imagine if you guys would manufacture an inverter with the barrel plug that would allow the choice between power sources it would sell well. Nothing fancy just an on/off switch, maybe powering three 3m strands, possibly compatible with the 9v you guys sell (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10053) lol.

  • therealadrian / about 11 years ago * / 1

    So I just got this, and some EL panel. I threw two batteries in it and tried connecting the panel. There was a moment in which a little glow came from the panel, and then dark. Sniff, Sniff? The smell of dead circuit. Did I: a) do something foolish and not understand how I was supposed to use this gadget, or b) get a unit which was somehow faulty. Anyone?

  • Member #439665 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Shorted out my EL panel. Nice.

  • I bought one of these, here is my feedback. With two 10ft lengths of Sparkfun's EL wire (blue and green): Unnoticeable in daylight, dim but visible in bright room lighting (or with some daylight let in), Bright and very noticeable in average-light rooms, and brilliant in dark rooms. (I realize this information might be more relevant to the wire itself) Inverter easily fits in any pocket. Belt clip is helpful. The input jacks are a little wobbly; nothing horrible has come from this for me. The plastic casing is also a little loose; frankly I am surprised I noticed it though. Overall, it is amazing, the two inputs are EXTREMELY helpful, and I am amazed that it is only $5. I am planning to get several more!

  • Member #350956 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Any idea on how to disassemble this? I'm trying to fit it into a TINY build and I want to rearrange the guts.

    • JD Roy / about 11 years ago / 1

      Two phillips screws, one on the clip and the other behind a small CE sticker. I'm Trying to mod it to get rid of the blink states for now... :/

  • What is the length of el wire this can power?

  • handmadepenguin / about 11 years ago / 1

    I LOVE this product! It has an off state. It has an on, slow blink, and fast blink. No external inverter needed (I bought one, but didn't end up needing it...) Just plug in and go. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgvoZfWcUWM

  • KirAsh4 / about 11 years ago / 1

    How long a wire (total, across both ports) can you hang off of this and still get a nice bright output? I would assume if it can drive a 3m length, I could make two 1.5m lengths and drive that the same and get the same brightness?

    • NXTreme / about 11 years ago / 1

      As it says in the description, you can drive two 3 m lengths at once. There might be a slight decrease in brightness per 3 m strand but it wouldn't be very noticeable if it existed at all.

  • markmoran / about 12 years ago / 1

    When would you use COM-10201 (the 3V EL Inverter) and when would you use this? Or is this meant to be used with COM-10201, in which case, is it just a 2AA battery holder with a JST connector? Sorry if these are dumb questions, I've never used EL and am trying to figure out a good starter package.

    • NXTreme / about 11 years ago / 1

      COM-10201 is practically this product without the battery holder, for twice the price. I'm not sure if COM-10201 is more robust/higher quality than this product, thus the increase in price, or if that's just how things are. This product is probably easier to use right out of the box as well, as you don't need to worry about rewiring the connectors or creating F-F adapters.

  • Lowlight / about 12 years ago / 1

    So how long will this pack power say 1 panel or 1 3m strand with a pair of standard AA batteries (like Energizer or Duracell)?

    • NXTreme / about 11 years ago / 1

      Taking the numbers from above (single 3 m strand draws ~190-260 mA), a rough average of ~2000 mA available for use from alkaline AA cells, and ~2700 mA for lithium AA cells, you get 10.5 - 7.69 hrs of use for alkaline cells and 14.2 - 10.4 hrs of use for lithium cells. This should be more than enough for portable projects, if not you could theoretically attach the 6 Ah battery pack from SparkFun for up to 35 hours of battery life time!

  • bleudeciel16 / about 12 years ago / 1

    Is there any harm in switching one of these on and off at a moderate rate with a microcontroller? (like to the pulses of a geiger counter, for example?)

  • MrSinewave / about 12 years ago / 1

    Do not order PRT-10357 (JST SH Jumper 2 Wire Assembly - 8") as a connector for the JST plugs on this unit - it does not fit (too small). It was in the "related products" when I ordered but it is different and will not fit.

    • Hey, sorry about that! You'll want a JST, not a JST-SH. I've related it to this product.

      What is it that was related to PRT-10357? I can't find it in the history for this item and it doesn't appear to be on the EL wire. I'd like to keep someone else from making the same mistake.


      • MrSinewave / about 12 years ago / 1

        I wish I could help but I don't remember any real further details! But your reply does bring up the possibility that I'm remembering clearly something that never happened. I was certain it was in related items because that's how I remember purchasing it, but maybe I just plain goofed! :/

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5

Based on 5 ratings:

Currently viewing all customer reviews.

1 of 1 found this helpful:


One of the connectors broke after 30min of light use. I haven't tried to solder it back together since the other connector still works.

As everyone notes, these emit an annoying high-frequency whine.

Works well, relatively quiet

Pack isn't small but it's not hard to hide within a costume. Emits a high whine but it's very quiet compared to models I've bought from other suppliers.

Can't disable power save

I bought this to provide AC power to the El Sequencer for a portable application with limited USB DC power available (not suitable to use a separate inverter with the sequencer's DC out). Unfortunately what the description doesn't convey is that it has a "power save" mode where it will turn itself off if it's not actively loaded. This means that if your El sequence ever has a phase where no channel is active, it will shut off. It doesn't seem like this can be disabled. The only hack I've figured out is to connect a static resistor load to one of the unused JST headers which isn't ideal :(

Printed circuit board poorly made

I used this for bike lighting. After maybe 150 miles, it failed. I thought it was the connector, but when I took it apart I found that the vibration had caused the traces to the connectors to separate from the PC board. Furthermore, when I tried to fix it by adding a new connector, the force of pushing the case back together caused the traces to the battery connector to fail.


Worked fine, but the EL wire and tape were only just bright enough. Might have been brighter if they had been driven harder.