View Full Version : Alternative to LEDs

Steve Clarkson
01-23-2010, 5:44 PM
I had mentioned a few weeks ago that I was working on an alternative to using LED's for edgelit acrylic.

So I thought that I would share a little of my progress so far.

I finally received a sample from the manufacturer and am attaching a few pictures. The light strip is 2"x12"x0.02". I put the light under an engraved mirror and it looks really good. One picture shows it under the mirror with the lights on and the other shows it with the lights turned off.

The lights work very well, but they're just too expensive to be practical at this point.....this sample cost $60......it's not so much the light strips as it is the battery pack.....which was $30 and the other wires/connectors which were $10.

The light strips come as thin as 1/4" and can be any thickness or length. They come in like 7 different colors and can be used indoors or out. ....battery operated or plug in.....constantly on or flashing........cool to the touch.....and 80% cheaper to operate than LEDs.

The lights are flexible so I wanted to wrap them around of piece of clear acrylic. I'll make a base for this one piece and see how well it travels up through the acrylic.

There are ALOT of positives.......and thus far, the only negative is price.

I'll keep you updated as I make more progress.

Harlan Kilbourn
01-23-2010, 6:51 PM

Is this an Electroluminescent Light? It looks like it. The neat thing is the low power requirements and how thin it is but the problem seems to be the need for an AC voltage. The battery box probably contains a DC to AC inverter. This then has to be hidden somewhere. I have used the EL-wire and tried to make it into edge lit signs. You can wrap the wire around the display and put the thing into a frame and hide the wire and the inverter and it works ok especially with thick acrylic with multiple loops. The pain of soldering to the extremely small wires and the need for the inverter to be sized to the length of the wire has ended my attempts to use the wire. With the EL-wire, the intensity of the light can be increased by using an inverter with a higher frequency at the cost of the life of the wire (decrease in light output over time.) and there a lots of colors to choose from. The flat panel pieces I have seen are neat because they are so thin and some have been cutable to size them but the making the electrical connections was not easy for the none technician type to handle and the parts were expense.

Keep up the research.


Mike Chance in Iowa
01-24-2010, 2:48 PM
These light strips are great. There is a place in Canada that makes K9 collars out of these lights. I have been using 1 blue and 1 green one every night for over 11 years and they're just as bright as they were when I bought them. They're not cheap.

Mark Ross
01-25-2010, 4:57 PM

In the past, the issue was life of the units, colors available, EMI noise given off by the inverter and the fact you need somewhere around 300-400 volts to get them to work right.

I know now they have a red light version that runs off of something as low as 24 volts or so, much less of a shock hazard.

Michael Hunter
01-25-2010, 7:21 PM
EL lamps are really cool.
You have to do it right though, or Mr UL and Mr FCC will start taking an unhealthy interest.

Darren Null
01-25-2010, 10:04 PM
Also on the subject of EL lighting, it's very susceptible to UV, and you can drastically shorten the life by putting it anywhere it can get direct sunlight...this is according to a manufacturer when I was sizing up EL kit to use here in Spain. The killer UV here makes EL only suitable for indoors.

As another lighting option, have you thought about Cold Cathode tubes? It's the same sort of technology (just getting phosphorus excited), but CC tubes are getting a little cheaper now there's so many laptops about (CC tubes are used to light up laptop screens in case you didn't know).

Dan Hintz
01-26-2010, 7:14 AM
Don't know how I missed this thread, but Mark and Darren have pretty much nailed the downsides to EL sheets. They are essentially a big capacitor, and while the phosphors used have slowly increased in service life, they are still highly susceptible to UV exposure... definitely an indoor item. they have a wide range of colors these days, but you'll pay through the nose for someof the more "exotic" flavors. EMI noise (and audible whine) should only be a problem for cheap inverters, but unless you're purchasing high-end units for an architectural setup, I imagine cheap is what will be purchased.

LEDs are still hard to beat in most circumstances.

Andrea Weissenseel
01-26-2010, 7:37 AM
That looks pretty good, Steve. A while ago I ordered a picture frame that has a light sheet like this, but I haven't even tried it yet :rolleyes:

I must admit that I missed the beginning of this, so I wonder why you are looking for an alternative to LED

Cheers, Andrea

Sam Sunwoo
02-10-2010, 11:44 PM
Another drawback for EL sheets is their susceptibility to moisture. Any moisture that gets inside the sheet, and it'll soon be byebye EL.

For LEDs, not so much...