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May 7, 2012 AT 12:03 pm

ASK AN EDUCATOR! “Can I power an EL sheet with a 3V battery?”

Tommy asks:

can i use a 3v miniature inverter with a coin cell battery to power a small square of el sheet rather than el wire?

the el sheet would be 2cm by 5cm.

Absolutely! The principles that govern the operation of el sheet are virtually the same for el wire. Lady Ada has a great overview of the tech.

If you are looking to throw together your own inverter, a possible IC for the job is the MIC4826 and with supporting components would only cost a few bucks. Looking at the datasheet and assuming a 3V input, it looks like you should be drawing ~30mA, although you will to test for your specific sheet. A CR2032 carries 220mAh so you should be able to get ~7hrs of runtime.

Alternatively you can modify a AA inverter to use your coin cell by integrating a CR2032 holder.

The only issue with both ideas is exposing the HV circuitry, which can be very dangerous. So tread with care and good luck with your hack!

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“Ask an Educator” questions are answered by Adam Kemp, a high school teacher who has been teaching courses in Energy Systems, Systems Engineering, Robotics and Prototyping since 2005.

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2 Comments

  1. Can you suggest other ICs with similar functionality to MIC4826, which is kind of hard to buy in my country?

    Can you explain if it is possible to buy a bigger panel – say, 8″x6″ – and cut it to smaller pieces of different sizes, then connect every piece to separate inverter? Would it work? Is there a simpler method to make a few different sized pieces glow (or not) independently of one another?

  2. After some more digging I found 3 other Micrel chips of the same family; some of them are cheaper, but they all work with small panels, up to 6 sq in, though (some up to 4 sq in).
    Similar are Supertex HV8xx drivers and a lonely Maxim max14521. When I’m searching for EL driver I can’t find anything for bigger panels, I can’t find other companies’ chips – what should I look for, any keywords? And what should I get to drive bigger panel?

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