Lighting and Wiring

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Copper reaction:  For those considering using the copper window making stuff for wiring, I  thought I read somewhere that you should wear plastic gloves when  working with this material to avoid some kind of nasty reaction.


The problem with copper,is that it leaves super minute cuts in the skin and those are "infected" with something from the copper so for awhile you lose the feeling in those fingers. Not fun. I solved it by wearing little pieces of tissue paper wrapped and taped to my fingers as I could continue to work that way. That was about a hundred years ago and latex gloves have now been invented so use them and all will be well. If your hands get hot, cut the gloves down a just want the area touching the copper covered.

Laurie Sisson

Copper wire/tape wire corrosion possible: I've been watching the comments on the tape (copper) wiring - and feel I should add what I've been told by several people (who do a lot of dollhouse restoration):  The 'stick on' copper wiring tape that is sold for dollhouse wiring will corrode over time, and short out your wiring.  One of the dollhouse shops here swears that the only safe way to install wiring is to do it using the standard coated wire made for dollhouses - using a Dremel with a small cutting wheel tip to route a groove in the 3/8" plywood walls for the wire to run....and with all wires going to the 'basement' or 'crawl space' beneath the house, where they can be soldered in place for permanent 'peace of wiring mind'. It is certainly something  you may want to consider if you live in a humid area, or your miniature houses might ever end up in storage that doesn't have temperature and humidity controls. 

Linda Gale

Cir Kit Transformers: Each transformer has a stock number on it. 1009A will light up to 16 GOW bulbs, 1009B - up to 10 bulbs, 1009C - up to 33 bulbs and 1009D up to 64 bulbs. This is according to their catalog. And even tho they are now circuit-protected, I use a lead-in with an in-line fuse just for added protection. And all of my transformers are plugged into the power bars that are also fuse protected.


Wiring diagram: I have received a lot of requests for a diagram on the wiring technique I recently described on SS. I made one up and if you promise not to laugh at my drawing, you can see it at free to print it and share it with anyone. I did another diagram showing how the tapewire is done throughout the house. That diagram is at


Finding tape: You can find the tape under your wallpaper easily if you trace the tape on paper before you wallpaper. Fit notebook paper or similar paper on the wall, mark the top and back, then trace the location of the tape, and keep on file. Oh yes, also mark which wall of which room :) this will make it easy.

Susan in OR

Finding tape: You can also find tape by photographing the room before wallpapering or painting. That also helps in case of a problem later on you will know exactly where the tape is located throughout all the rooms.


Wire your house on the OUTSIDE!!! I detest tape wire! Give me wood paste filled grooves and round wire any time. I hide it inside window moldings, floor moldings and even beneath siding. Tape works well on the outside beneath siding. That's the only time I would recommend it. I have never understood all the hype about putting it inside beneath wallpaper. . it shows!

I also find it simpler to wire on the outside of the house, just drilling and inserting it for plugs and sconces and such. No bother with fill either. Inside walls can have the wire running along the floor. A bit of planning and attention to placement and it's successful. I always solder each join! No failures, no glitches, no worries--my only complaint is those stupid little plug things that sometimes make a connection and sometimes don't. If there are any alternatives, let me know. I've had to run a line of solder down the dumb pins on almost every lamp I use. Tedious and frustrating. They're clunky and bright white and glaring. I paint all the cords dark too. That helps.

Judie - Daytona Beach, FL

1) primer paint the walls;
2) put together the shell;
3) tape wire the whole house;
4) install ceiling paper;
5) install wallpaper;
6) install lights.

Tom Berkner

Dollhouse without lights: Visual arts normally utilize very specific and intentional lighting to help establish mood, discreetly direct viewers' attention, and offer opportunity to fully appreciate the artist's handiwork. Such light, however, does not HAVE TO originate from within. Miniature fixture lighting CAN help bring miniature rooms to life.

In all practical fact, however, the very finest examples (Thorne Rooms?)only suggest interior lighting while actually using exterior or concealed reflective lighting to accomplish the desired ends.

Intended heirlooms expected to be preserved for generations should NOT include components with fragile electrical filaments which will require countless manual intrusions for repair. In short, NO! You do not need to electrify your dollhouse. DO, however, consider how you will illuminate the collectable treasures within. People standing close to look in will tend to block light from behind themselves but light spilling through windows, interior doorways, etc should be used wisely as should darker crannies and dramatic shadows when planning your decor.

Mel K.

My method should be done after wallpapering but before laying down the floor.
- Run tapewire along the floor, down the center from front to back (or back to front). Leave about 2 inches of extra tape at the edge of the wall. That will become an outlet in the back. For outlets on the sides of the room: run tapewire from side to side and attach it with brads to the center tapewire piece. On each end (the part by the wall) leave about 2 inches of extra tapewire. You will now have 3 pieces of tapewire running 2 inches above the floor. You can add extra outlets by attaching more tape to the center. Test the tapewire to make sure it's working. Put on the flooring. I use double sided tape on the floor so that I can remove the floor if there's ever an electrical problem. Put on the baseboard. You will now have 3 pieces of tapewire sticking up about 1 inch above the baseboard. Put in the outlets in the pieces of tape above the baseboard and trim any extra tape from around the outlets. If the room was painted you can paint over any tapewire that's showing around the outlet. If the room was wallpapered and the tape is showing I paint it a color complementary to the wallpaper.

I like this method because I can see the tapewire and know exactly where to
install the outlets. It's also a good way to put in outlets if you've put paneling on the walls.

Chandeliers: I used this method if there was a floor above the room where the chandelier will be installed. You cannot add the flooring to the floor above until the chandelier is done. I run the wire from the chandelier to the floor above it through a hole in the ceiling. Either put a plug on it and plug it into an outlet or install it in the tape on the floor using eyelets (aka grommets. Both methods work.

Chandeliers where there is no floor above it: Make a groove in the ceiling from where the chandelier will be hung to the edge of the wall and down the side of the wall. I used a Dremel with a decent sized bit and just ran it along the ceiling. Place the chandelier wire in the groove, cover with wood fill, put a plug on it, and plug it into an outlet. If the wire isn't long enough it is very easy to lengthen it. I can post directions on doing that if anyone needs them.

Sconces: Make a groove in the wall from where the sconce will be hung to the baseboard. Run the wire in the groove and cover with wood fill. Plug into an outlet. For sconces near a doorway, I make the groove towards the door, run the wire behind the door molding and plug into an outlet. I put sconces on each side of a fireplace and made the groove towards the fireplace, and ran the wires behind the fireplace to an outlet hidden in the fireplace opening.

I know that there are those who will say that you shouldn't use a lot of tape pieces attached with brads as it can lead to problems later on. If the brads are put in properly, you shouldn't have a problem. My main house has been wired this way for 8 years without any problems. Use 4 brads for each connection, 2 brads on each side of the tapewire, placed in a diagonal pattern. And that is my humble method of wiring.


Battery Lights: I used three in my Christmas house two outside trees and lights around the door I hid one under wood pile one as heating unit and one just inside door behind fire place as you look at Christmas room you don't see it....remember to place them where you can replace batteries... They really burn a long time.....I got my at hobby lobby in the Christmas village scene

Linda in Texas

Worry Free Wiring: A question about hidden wiring problems. . My solution: Run solid, break free sections of wire beneath siding and where it's not available in the finished wall or floor. Solder all joints. Coat them with Silicon Sealer (aquarium sealer). This will take a long time because you have to let this sealer cure or dry overnight. The wait will be worth it. You can now go on and dress the rest of the house without worry about wiring. I often run wires out the side beneath a hollow chimney or wood box or some exterior feature. Then hinge the feature to allow access to this junction. Very like a fuse box for a real house. How else to access the wiring. Maybe you can make a real looking fuse box to contain your wire junctions if the period allows.

Judie - Daytona Beach, FL

Installing Floor over wire: Debbie asked: [How do I do the floors when the tape wire has been put down? Do I put in a fake floor that can be pulled out or can I just lay my hard wood floor on top of the tape wire? The type of hard wood floor I have is from Houseworks. ]

These are the same floors I used and I put them down with double sided tape. Not a lot of tape, just enough to keep it flat. I have at times, taken up the floor to work on the tapewire and it was very easy.

Carol, S P Miniatures

Lighted tree candles: I did some very realistic lighted tree candles with fiber-optic plastic threaded through a silver sequin and a red bugle bead (if that's the small straight kind). When the tip of the plastic pokes through the top of the bead, it looks like flame. You need to thread the fibers up the middle of the tree first, then attach the candle when you get the fiber where you want it. The problem I had was hiding the bigger light source, since you have to bundle the fibers at the bottom and attach to a light source. I finally had to add a thicker base than I wanted and drill a hole in it for the light (one of the ones on small white light string).


9V lighting: I have been asked by Linda to share the little knowledge I have with the list in regard to lighting with 9V batteries. Please accept that I am no expert so I graciously offer my pardon to all those skillful people who work wonders with lights and electrifying their room boxes and dollhouses. I only know that by using a battery connector and a 9V battery I was able to power my single light in my room box and my bags. Also, it would be possible to power, theoretically, 8 bulbs if you use a 7.2 or preferably an 8.4V rechargeable battery because these are able to pull more current to compensate for the lack of voltage, thus lighting the bulb almost to the brightness of 12V. However, both batteries will discharge at a greater rate than they would normally. You can purchase battery connectors (known as 9V snap connectors in USA) from, in the US, putting in cat#27-324 (1.99USD for 5) or in Europe, in NE19V (0.25GBP for soft or 0.29GBP for rigid)


Large Brass Chandeliers: Someone asked about large brass chandeliers. I sell a range of lights including a 6 arm brass chandelier with matching wall lights.


By Donna Carnall - 2 Apr 2002


1 mini suction cup (approx. 3/4" in diameter)--remove wire from cup

6" length of black crochet thread for "wiring"

6" length of white crochet thread for "pull cord"

(NOTE: neither the wiring nor "pull cord" will be this long, but the longer length is easier to work with while in the construction process.)


small flat (on one side) white button (2 holes is all that's needed);

1 small white pearl-like bead for light bulb;

1 tiny jewelry clamp for "decorative pull" on "pull cord"

Acrylic paint: silver or pewter works well (I used pewter)

Glue (I used Power Poxy Stix-On Contact All Purpose Adhesive)

Sewing Needle

Nail or safety pin

Remove the wire from the suction cup---save it for possible use in another project. Heat a nail or safety pin, then melt a hole all the way through the center of the suction cup. The hole should be just large enough to pull the crochet thread through, but still fit snugly inside. Paint the outside of the suction cup with silver or pewter acrylic paint, let dry thoroughly.

Thread needle with black crochet thread, tying a knot in the end of the thread. Push the needle through hole you made in suction cup, entering the concave side, and pull through the knobbed side, pulling knot to the hole, but not into it. Push needle through one hole of the button then down through the other hole. Adjust thread length (to your needs) between button and suction cup, and tie a double knot snugly against button. Push needle back through one of the buttonholes, and cut thread to about a 1/4" tail.

"Pull Cord": Decide the length of "pull cord" desired, and cut a length of white crochet thread accordingly-adding just a little extra for 2 knots and possible miscalculations. Tie a knot in both ends, but before tying a second knot, thread a jewelry clamp onto the knotted end of the thread.

In the center of the concave side of the suction cup, place adequate amount of glue to adhere to knotted end of "pull cord" (the end without the jewelry clamp). Then glue the white pearl-like bead (light bulb) over the "pull cord" knot you just glued in. Let dry.

You're done! When ready to add the "work light" to your scene, attach button to "ceiling" with appropriate glue. Press well into place, and let dry. The light and cord hang free, and adds movement and life to the project. It seems to be an attention getter!

Donna--in the Land of Oz, USA

Stripping the ends off wires: When I went to Minitura last September, Ray Storey was demonstrating a quick way of stripping light cord. This is for the hard wiring, not tape. He is known for advice and help given, as well as beautiful lights.

He burnt off the plastic cover with a cigarette lighter, just along from where you need to expose wire. He then removed the burn plastic and trimmed the copper wire to the length required. So there were no partially cut wires either. Just watch you don't burn your fingers, but worth testing out on a scrap of wire first. It is so quick, there should be no problem with fumes.

He also did the two separate wires in different places, staggered them, so the wire joins would not meet. This is to prevent the joins touching each other, causing a short, and therefore insulating tape was not needed.

Pauline, Mansfield, UK

Wiring: If you are going to hard-wire a house, you need to conceal the wires by grooving the wall or sending the wire underneath the house. The problem with the wire length is easily solved by cutting the wire to size as you install it. No law says you must use it all. Don't be afraid to cut off the plugs that often are included on the ends of the light fixture wires. I have a basket full of them.

Hard wiring as you describe has always been too complicated for me. I still opt for the tape installation. There are many good references about tape installation, including a nice video tape. Ask your mini store about it.

Dave Brazelton, Bradenton, FL

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