If you've ever wondered how to connect Parallel EL Tape, then read on! The process itself is not terribly complicated, but if you've never worked with it before, it can be a bit confusing. Electroluminescent Tape or material does not necessarily have a set + and - like other electrical connections, just as long as they aren't touching and connected properly, you should have no problems. When you cut EL Tape, it will continue to glow all the way up until the cut point, but make sure to seal the edge. We recommend using a clear Scotch and make sure to seal it as soon as possible once cut. This will keep out all moisture and debris.
Items you'll need:
EZ Snap Connectors
Wire Strippers / Pliers
Lead Wire/Speaker Wire
Heat Shrink Tubing (Recommended)
Step by Step Instructions to connect Parallel EL Tape:
1. Cut the end you intend on connecting with a pair of standard household scissors. Making a straight cut ensures your tape glows all the way to the connection point. Hint: if you want your tape to glow at an angle right from the start, cut it at an angle. Word to the wise, however. Try a straight connection first to make sure you know the mechanics.
2. Solder Lead wire to your crimp connectors. This can be done after attaching the crimp connectors to the lamp, but it's personal preference in which order this occurs. I personally do it after, but everyone is different. Making sure you have a solid connection of lead wire to the crimp connectors will make sure there is a strong current to pass from inverter to tape.
3. Crimp! - Take your crimp connectors and place on each side of the scribe line (line that runs about 90% off one edge of the tape) and press with your pliers or Wire Strippers. If you use wire strippers, make sure you don't use the serrated edge, but the flat edge so it won't cut your tape! I may or may not have made this mistake before.... Think of the scribe line as the line that separates the positive and negatives. This can be tricky with Parallel EL Tape, so don't be mad if you don't get it on the first try.
4. Test 1 - At this point, you should be able to figure out if your connection is done properly. Without touching the bare metal parts of the connector, connect the EZ Snap Connector to the inverter and turn on. If you have the crimp connectors in place and it doesn't turn on, it's because you are either on the scribe line, or you've shorted your connection. No problem, simply take the crimp connectors out and try again. If your EL Tape lights up, you made your connection correctly, and it's time to move on.
5. Hot Glue - After confirming your connection was a success, it's now time to make your connected area secure. Adding hot glue to the connection area makes the tape bond with the connectors and makes it very difficult to pull out. It also keeps you from getting shocked by your connection area. We recommend using a couple pieces of aluminum to dissipate the heat properly. If this is not available, then add extra hot glue around your connection point, then cut with a razor blade or scissors. If using aluminum blocks, add a generous amount of hot glue around your connection area, and press the aluminum blocks around the hot glue firmly for about 5-10 seconds. When you release, you will notice a smooth surface on the top and bottom of your connector. The ends will most likely be very ugly at this point. Simply take your scissors and cut a triangular shape to make the connection clean.
5.5 Heat Shrink Tubing - If you don't like the way the hot glue looks, and want a more professional appearance (ie. the way we typically do it), slide some heat shrink tubing over the connected area. The right size tubing should slide onto the tape and hot glue easily, but not like throwing a hot dog down a hallway (sorry for the visual!). The tighter it is, the nicer the heat shrink will form to the connected area. Once in place, take a lighter or heat gun and heat up the tubing. It should shrink down into place nicely and form a nice bond. This also adds even more stength to the connected area and ensures failures are at a minimum!
6. Test 2 – You’re done. Make sure to test again to make sure nothing was jostled loose, and you should be ready to glow!