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Miniature Electric Wiring Guide

March 18th 2016

 

 

The Basics

There are two basic methods for doll house wiring your dolls house: copper tape and the twin wire or socket strip method. Although both are frequently used in dolls houses many dolls house shops and builders recommend the twin wire method as being the easiest for beginners. An explanation of both:

Copper Tape Method of doll house wiring

The copper tape method of doll housw wiring uses a very thin strip of adhesive copper tape to conduct electricity around your dolls house. To use this method you would run two parallel lines of copper tape right around your dolls house forming a continuous loop. If your dolls house is front opening the best option here would be to run the parallel lines right around the back of the dolls house. You can then attach the wires from each light in the house to the copper tape by drilling a tiny hole in the back of the house and passing the wire through. The normal method for attaching wires to the copper tape is to solder them on. Once you have connected your lights you can connect a transformer plug to the copper tape, plug it in and your house should light up.

This method is more often used for houses that are not front opening as the copper tape can be run around the house and hidden under flooring and wall paper. One point I will mention is that copper tape can be eroded by adhesives and does break which is why it is not the favored method of many miniaturists.

The Twin Wire Method of doll house wiring

The twin wire or socket strip method of doll house wiring uses a combination of wires, plugs and sockets to connect lights in your dolls house to a power source. This method is easier to modify, easier to install, is less likely to break and is cheaper than the copper tape method. This is how it works:

Lights are fitted into each room of your dolls house. Lights normally come with 60cm of wire with a standard sized plug on the end. The wire from each light is run either to a point in the house where you have decided to place your socket board or out of the back of the house to where you socket board is attached. In front opening houses it is easy to attach a socket board to back of the house and drill a tiny hole in the back of each room to run you wires through. The plugs at the and of the wire is then plugged into your socket board. You socket board is attached to a transformer which plugs into any normal household socket to supply your house with electricity. It really is that simple.

 

Socket Board

This is a socket board. As you can see it has several tiny holes along it in which to plug your lights. The wire at the end of the socket board will be attached to a transformer which you can plug into any household socket.

These socket boards come in various sizes with any number of plug sockets. They have adhesive backs so they can be easily stuck to your dolls house.

Dolls House lights come with standard plugs which you will find at the end of the wire attached to your dolls house lights. These plugs will fit into the sockets on the socket board.

Transformer Plug
Transformers are used to change our normal household power supply into one that dolls house electric's can handle. The standard transformer used for a dolls house is twelve volts. The number of bulbs you can run off a single transformer depends on the 'watt' value of the transformer. Remember that watts determine the number of bulbs you can run from a single transformer and not the number of lights, therefore a three arm light counts as three bulbs.

 

3 Watt5 Watt10 Watt20 Watt40 Watt1 Amp2 Amp
5 bulbs10 bulbs16 bulbs33 bulbs66 bulbs18 bulbs36 bulbs

 

If you are using a large amount of lights you should balance them out over two or more socket boards in your doll house wiring. Also you may want to consider using two transformers and two separate lighting circuits if your doll house is large of if you are using a lot of bulbs in each room.

 

Step 1

Decide on the location of all the lights in your dolls house. Will they be on the ceiling, walls, free standing or table lights? You don't have to purchase all the lights at this point but you need to decide on the quantity you will be using and where they will be situated. The quantity of lights you use determines what transformer and socket board you use for your doll house lighting.

 

Step 2

One you have decided on the lights for your dolls house you are ready to get your transformer and wiring. To determine what transformer you need count up the number of bulbs that will be used in your dolls house lighting. Remember that this is the number of bulbs and not the number of lights, so a three armed tulip light will count as three bulbs.

Next count how many lights you will be using to determine how many plug sockets you need. The average socket board has twelve plug sockets so you may need to use more than one. You can run more than one socket board off a single transformer.

Something you may want to consider when lighting doll houses is if you are using a lot of lights to use two separate doll house lighting circuits, one for each side of your dolls house. You can then use a lower watt transformer and fewer socket boards on each circuit lowering the probability of a fault occurring. If a fault does occur it will be much easier to pinpoint. If you are having trouble deciding what lights and transformer you need why not opt for a full lighting set.

You should now be ready to get your transformer, socket board and some lights. You don't have to have all the lights for your house at once but here are some tips to follow:

Concentrate on one room or area of your dolls house. It is important when lighting doll houses to plan where your lights are going to go before you decorate so you can cover wires. If you start with one room you can light it and decorate it then move onto the next spreading the cost of doll house lighting and still enjoying the dolls house.

Start with the bottom floor rooms. If you are having ceiling lights the wires will need to be covered by the flooring in the above room so it's important that you have the lighting in the each room before you decorate the room above.

Ceiling roses look very attractive and can complete a light fixture but these will need to be fitted before the light goes up so now is a good time to purchase these. You should also paint or decorate your ceiling before you fit a ceiling light.

Now you are ready to get your socket board, transformer and lights for your doll house lighting.

 

Step 3

Once you have your socket board it is time to decide where it will be positioned. This is the centre of your doll house lighting system and should be placed somewhere that is easily accessible. For front opening dolls houses the best place is on the back of the house positioned centrally and at the bottom. Once you have done this stick your socket board to the doll house.

You will now need to drill holes in the doll house for the wires of each light to pass through:

Ceiling Lights

You have to drill two holes for a ceiling light, one through the ceiling above and a second through the back of the house where the wire will exit.It is much easier to hide wires along floors.

Wall Lights

Lights fitted to the rear wall of a room are by far the easiest to fit but should not be fitted until the wall is papered. Then you simply drill a hole directly under the wall light to pass the wire out the back of the house and to your doll house lighting socket board.

For all other wall lights the wire should exit from the nearest position on the rear wall and a hole should be drilled hear. Always drill a wire exit hole as close to the floor as possible and try to drill at a downward angle to disguise the hole further.

Table Lamps & Standing Lamps

These can be fitted after the room has been papered. The wire will trail from the light and let you move the light around the room. Drill an exit hole for each of these lights at the base of the rear wall you can cover the wire up with flooring if you wish.

Drill holes

Drill holes should only be slightly bigger than the wires themselves. The smaller the hole the neater it will look.

Grooves

If a wire is to trail down a wall or across the floor you should cut grooves in the dolls house for the wire to sit in. Grooves should be a small V shape and can be cut out with a chisel and sanded with a V shaped file. Never glue a wire into a groove or fill the groove with anything as you may wish to move or get to the wire later.

 

 

LCL 152A - 6 tulip black chandelier

 

WL 228 BATTERY - tulip wall lamp

 

TL 029 - Tiffany table Lamp


Step 4

Once you have drilled your holes you need to position your lights. If you are using a ceiling rose remember to put these in place first you can stick these down with wood or PVA glue.

Before you can run the wire from the lights through their respective holes and to the socket board you will have to remove the plug. To do this pull out the two pins with a pair of pliers and pull on the wire, the plug should slip off. You can now feed the wire through the holes and along the wire grooves.

Next stick the light in place using its adhesive pad, never use glue. You should also hold the wire in place along its route to the back of the house using masking tape.

You are now ready to refit the plug. Feed the twin wire through the central hole in the plug and then feed one wire into each of the two holes on either side of the plug making sure the end is bared. Refit the pins into each hole.

 

Step 5

Plug each light into the socket board and tidy up the wires by masking taping them to the back of the house.

Attach the socket board to the transformer and you are ready to plug in your doll house lighting.

 

What if it doesn't work?

  • Check that the transformer in connected properly to the socket board
  • Check the plug socket that the transformer is plugged into
  • Check that the socket board works. If the fuse has gone the light on the board will be lit.
  • Check each socket on the socket board
  • Check each light individually by connecting them to the transformer
  • Check the plug on each light is making goo contact with the wire, remember the wires have to be bared.
  • Check each bulb, you may have to replace them to test
  • Check that there are no breaks in the wire