Fitting working lights into your dolls house is easy – using the twin wire method. Lighting will add a glow to your dolls house and give it a more realistic look.
How does Twin Wire Work?
The transformer plugs into the mains and the wires from this attach to the lighting strip. This is usually attached to the back of the house. Most lights come with 60cm of wire with a plug on the end, which fits into this system. So just plug your light in to the lighting strip sockets (a lighting strip normally has 12).
Preparations for Lighting
If possible plan your lighting at the start of your dolls house project, even when your house is still in kit form. Always try to prepare before installing wallpaper and flooring.
First - decide where your lights are going and the routes the wires will take. Then you are ready to buy some or all of your equipment. Because of the individual nature of "twin wire" the only items required for you to start are a transformer and lighting strip and at least one light. Next you must create runs for the wires.
You will need to drill two holes - one through the ceiling above where you want to hang the light and the second through the back wall of the house where you want the wire to exit. This depends on the route chosen for your wires to run. It’s always best to run wires across a floor rather than a ceiling because it is much easier to hide wires under a floor covering. Use a drill bit with a slightly greater diameter than the wire, although - remember the smaller the holes the neater the job.
It is much easier to fit wall lights on the rear wall of the house, as you will only need to drill one hole (the exit hole). This type of light is best fitted after the wallpaper has been hung.
Where wires run across the floor it is best to lay them in a groove This can be created by cutting a V-shape groove in the floor with a sharp chisel or knife. Make sure the groove is smooth – so avoiding sharp edges damaging the wires. Do not secure flooring permanently with glues etc. Use double sided tape. If you are using carpet or flooring papers, glue them to a piece of thin card first. Then use the double sided tape - which can then easily be removed if required.
We recommend that the wire from a table lamp is trailed to exit from the nearest point on the back wall and as low to the floor as possible.
Lighting in Attic or Mansard Type Rooms
Wall lights are best for a flat roof house. Ceiling lights can be used with a sloping roof, with the best option being lights on a chain. The slope of the roof does not affect the chain, so the light hangs correctly. Drill a hole out onto the back of the roof and then make a groove down the roof for your wire to sit in. The roofing will then hide the wire.
You will need a 12 volt transformer to power your lights. This should be available before you install any lights so you can test lights before installing them.
Which transformer do I need?
Firstly - the number of bulbs and not the number of lights is the key to the transformer power required.
Use the following formula – 1 amp = 20 bulbs
So a 1.25 amp transformer will power 25 bulbs and a 3.5 amp transformer runs 70 bulbs.
Now that the route has been prepared and the equipment bought you can install your light(s). Test your lights before installing them to make sure they work. Just connect the transformer to the lighting strip and plug in the light.
If the light comes with a plug attached it is easily removable. Most lights have a length of wire with a plug attached. Remove the plug, which can be done quite easily as follows:
Pull out the two pins with a pair of tweezers / small pliers. Hold the plug and pull gently on the wire, and the plug will come off. Now feed the wire through the holes in your dolls house - in the ceiling or rear wall and if you have grooves, lay it in the groove. You can use a strip of masking tape to flatten and hold the wire into position.
Now the wire is in place and through to the back of your house refit the plug as follows: firstly feed the twin wire through the central hole in the plug. Then put one wire into each of the two holes on the other side of the plug – making sure that the end of the wire is bared to give a good contact. Finally push the brass pins back into the holes. Check there are no loose strands of wire (they should all be under the pins in the holes).
Now fix the light itself in place using Tacky Wax. If the light has a sticky adhesive pad it is best to remove it (making sure that you do not damage the wires) and use Tacky Wax instead. These adhesive pads do not usually last very long. However never use glue to fix lights. This will hinder any maintenance tasks.
Finally plug into the lighting strip and your light should be working. If your wires do not reach the lighting strip then extension leads are available and simple to fit
Troubleshooting – my lights do not work!
Does the lighting strip work. If the fuse has gone, the light on the strip will be glowing. Replace the fuse if necessary – with the correct one. Use another light (one that you know works) to test the lighting strip.
Do the bulb(s) in the light work. Replace them and test them if necessary.
Do the wire and pins in the plug make a good contact. Was the end of the wire stripped before you put it in the plug?
Make sure there are no breaks in the wire - this would be very unusual, but you may have accidently cut the wire during installation or decoration.
Good luck with your lighting and I hope this feature will have helped to answer some of your questions and also enable you to avoid some of the pitfalls, which can happen especially when lighting your first dolls house.