I'm only going to deal with round wire because it was recommended to me at the beginning as the easiest, most durable and simplest to trouble shoot of the two wiring systems, so it's all I know. It's also best for front opening dolls houses. The other commercially available system is tape wiring. (It's possible to use a hybrid of both methods, but I'm going to stick with what I know!) (Small World Builders has a great tutorial on choosing a lighting system).
1. For any project, you need to buy a 12 volt power strip / socket board and a 12 volt transformer that will connect with and convert whatever AC power source is used in your country.
Power strip: The power strips are all pretty much alike, and they attach to the transformer with the sort of connectors shown in the first photo below. They have sockets into which you plug your lights, and a fuse to help protect everything.
|A typical power strip showing the connectors you'll screw to the transformer, plus a spare fuse.|
|My powerstrip for the WAHM|
Transformers: If you buy the transformer from eBay, make sure the transformer you buy has the right kind of plug for outlets in your country. A North American transformer won't do you much good if you live in the UK, for example. A dolls house company in your country should be able to help you get the right one.
|This is the big 40W transformer for the WAHM. You can see the connectors from the |
power board screwed into place at the end of it.
The 12 V transformers come in various wattages, which determine how many 12 V bulbs they can power. (NB: The following list is simplified, because the bi-pin bulbs generally draw less current than the screw in ones, but this is a good, conservative rule of thumb):
A 5 Watt transformer will power up to 10 bulbs.
A 10 W transformer will power up to 16 bulbs.
A 20 W transformer will power up to 33 bulbs.
A 40 W transformer will power up to 64 bulbs.
Remember -- that's bulbs, not light fixtures! So if you're hanging chandeliers, remember to count the bulbs!
I bought a pretty large transformer (40W) for the WAMH, because I'm using a lot of chandeliers, and want to have lots of power for them. I've already got 16 bulbs on the ground floor, and I'm just getting started!
(For much more detail about transformers, what they do and how to choose one, see the About.com article on transformers).
More on lighting to come!