A frequently asked question and I had it myself as well at the start of my miniatures-journey, is: ‘ how-the-hell ( pardon my English ) do I fix my dolls house electrics? ‘.
There must be no other question than this one, which is asked over and over again. That is because there is a lot to tell about it. But in the end, nothing is as fun as the lights being ON in your own dollhouse!
First of all, let’s get rid of some prejudices.
” No I can’t do it, I don’t know anything about electricity, electricity is scary.”
Just some shout-outs that I read everywhere in forums or Facebook groups. Rest assured though that, with some explanation, you can do it! Dolls house electrics systems these days have been developed especially for the miniature hobbyist and you don’t need to have knowledge of electricity, believe me!
Yes, you càn burn down your dollhouse, but only if you work in a hasty manner, and if you would link everything together, without any reading about it beforehand, without any preparation whatsoever, or even reading a manual. But you can prevent this from happening!
Basic knowledge of dolls’ house electrics.
In your normal house, 220 Volts come out of your socket ( 110 Volts in the UK and in the US ). That is, of course, just too much for your dollhouse.
As you can imagine, ordinary lamps are therefore way too big and too hot to use in your dollhouse. This is why the smaller dollhouse lights are 12 Volts or even less.
A transformer converts 220 Volts into 12 Volts so that all the power in your dollhouse is not stronger than 12 Volts.
There are other voltages.
Lundby supplies a 4.5 Volts transformer for their dollhouses as a standard. All the connections are already built into those houses.
Rail modeling has 6 Volts and 9 Volts and children’s dollhouses use even less (3 to 4 Volts) so that a playing child doesn’t even feel it when it would unintentionally touch anything.
With the introduction of LED-lights, more options have been added. These lights give only a little bit of heat but are often too bright and too white for a beautiful ‘mood’- lighting in the dollhouse.
However, mutual exchange is not possible!
A 12 Volt-light will not get you enough power to put on the lights with a 3.5 Volts transformer.
On the other hand, using a 12 Volt transformer will burn your 3.5 Volt lamp. So, the choice of the transformer will determine which Volt lamps you are going to use.
For children’s dollhouses usually, 3,5 Volt is used. For the miniaturist, however, the 12Volt lights are more suitable ( there is much more choice and they are made for the exact scale ).
The choice of a transformer determines the number of lights that you can use in your dollhouse!
On your transformer, you can see a number with VA ( Volts / Amps) or W ( Watts ), or A ( Amps). That number tells you how many lights you can connect.
An example: a light transformer of 7-8 VA or 10 W can have up to 15 sockets. A 20 W transformer can handle up to 30-33 sockets, and a large transformer up to 60 sockets also exists.
One light can have multiple seeds!
Do not count the number of lights in your house, but the number of seeds in the lights. A chandelier can contain 12 seeds! The total number must always stay below the recommended number for that transformer.
There is 1 exception and that is Christmas lighting, which usually counts as 1 or 2 lights. Read some more about Electricity Safety on Wikipedia.
Now, how do I choose a system?
It all comes down to choosing between perfection and comfort. What is most important for you? Do you want to hide everything behind the wallpaper or do you want the lights to turn on fast and quickly?
There are lots of possibilities, like buying lamps that work with a battery (the LED-lamps that I mentioned before), but basically, there are 3 methods:
1. No main cable, but guide each lamp to a transformer.
Each light that is sold, has a piece of wire and a plug attached. The wire itself is very thin and the plug releases easily. This plug goes to a long socket (EM2032 series), which is reconnected to a transformer.
The advantage of this is that it is the cheapest and easiest “system”. The disadvantage: all wires are visible and you have to drill a hole for each wire to go through a wall or floor etc..
( If the wire is too short, you can extend it with another wire or with an extension cord ).
2. A network of wires.
Just like in a real house, you can also create a whole network of electricity in a dollhouse with wires, light seeds, and switches. Some people even hide the wires in pre-made gutters.
The advantage: cheaper than CirKit and can be controlled lamp after lamp by using switches.
Disadvantage: You need knowledge of + and – poles, thus knowledge of electricity. Plus sometimes knowing how to solder is required.
But it is nice to see all those switches, this makes it very real!
3. Installation of a network with a CirKit system.
Advantage: it is tucked away to almost invisible.
Absolutely no knowledge of electricity is required. And one cable only means that everything can be connected to it, including switches and sockets.
Disadvantage: it is tucked away to almost invisible 🙂
It is the most expensive system and it is a huge point of discussion on the internet between advocates and opponents, having heated discussions about it because most of the time you can’t find the cause of a mistake that you made.
All of this means that using this Cirkit system requires a lot more information, but with the right way of doing it, it can be a pretty nice one.
However, it can be a tragedy when you can’t find malfunctions when used carelessly.
In short, it is important to remember that electricity has a negative pole and a positive pole.
Each lamp is fitted with two copper wires and each one is plasticized! These two copper wires should NEVER touch each other, that’s very important!
A short circuit happens when those two copper wires, or the negative pole and the positive pole, touch each other. Or when a copper wire makes contact with another piece of conductive material, like a brass lamp.
When you remove a piece of plastic protection, you have to be careful! Two plasticized mini cables go into the plug and two copper wires are placed under the plug’s legs ( minus and plus). Those ‘ legs’ can’t connect with each other, but that should be impossible when they are in their plastic plug holder.
My Final Conclusion.
Even in a dollhouse, a short circuit can happen and you can even put the place on fire! That is why it is important to work safely and correctly with the often very thin and vulnerable wire.
You don’t necessarily have to understand which wire is minus or plus, as long as you make sure that they do not make contact!
I hope to have informed you enough for now about dolls’ house electrics and I wish that you succeed in turning on the lights in your mini-home! 😉
In the meantime, I have reviewed 5 Etsy shops that sell electricity related items for your dollhouse!
Do you have any questions or comments on this article, then please leave a comment down below! Or you can now join my latest Facebook group.
16 thoughts on “A FAQ Is : How Do I Fix My Dolls House Electrics?”
I have a little santa house I made myself made of wood and I put a light inside. I am really afraid this lamp will at some time start a fire. This cirkit system could be the solution I am looking for to light up my little santa house but it seems a bit complicated to set up. I watched the video and I think the socket strip system looked like the easiest and best solution to me. What do you think could b the best solution for me? The house is not so big – about 50x 50 cm. And 30 cm high. I use to add a lot of cotton and smalldoll santas inside and outside the house. Glad I found this info!
Hello Hilde !
If it is just one light, in a small house, and you can somehow make a hole in a wall or so, then I would use method one as mentioned in the article, That would seem the easiest and cheapest way to do! I don’t think that you would need to buy a complete circit-system just for that !
Thanks for your visit!
We have fixed all our lights to walls and ceilings. After running wires to the circuit strip, most of the bulbs either glow dimly or don’t work at all. If we wriggle the bulbs they sometimes come on, but more often they go out completely. It’s very frustrating trying to get the lights to work. ! Any suggestions? We are using the correct transformer for the number of bulbs,& all connections seem good. The lights were quite expensive but seem to be rubbish.
That would be hard to tell for me to see what is going on there. I was thinking: probably the connection from the wires to the bulbs, but that seems to be ok? I’m sorry but I can’t help you with that. Did you contact the seller to get a replacement/exchange/return? Did you buy from someone on Etsy or elsewhere? Usually, on Etsy, most people accept returns, if not it is mentioned that they don’t. Any other sellers or websites should mention the same.
I’m sorry that they were expensive and I hope you can work it out! 🙁
Best of luck,
Thanks for your prompt reply. Unfortunately we bought from a well known Doll’s House supplier over a year ago, & have only just started installing. It seems as though the lights themselves must be faulty, or of poor quality, as we can get most of the bulbs to illuminate if we jiggle them. But then they go out again. We have a two 3 bulb ceiling lights that we can only get 2 of the bulbs to glow faintly. Then if we tweak the 3rd bulb that isn’t working they all go out!!! Very frustrating.
Thanks for your thoughts.
No problem and I would be frustrated as well, damn 🙁
Have a nice day!
I built my dollhouse 4 years ago and I used CR2S tape wire for electricity. Now, my lights won’t come on. Two things I have noticed. The first, is when plugged in, my power connector fuse is blinking instead of a steady light. The second, is when I hold an electrical detector any where (inside or out) within a two inch distance the detector lights up like the entire house is hot. Can you tell me what is going on and how can I fix it?
Hello, I found the short in my dollhouse, no need to respond.
Sorry I haven’t responded before, I was away 😉 Glad that you figured things out !:-)
Hi Lizzy. I really enjoyed your explanation for options to electrify a dollhouse. I recently acquired a beautiful dollhouse my mother made years ago and it suddenly went dark except for the room closest to the transformer plug- in on the house. It’s a CirKit system and the tape is live at the plug-in site. I checked the size of the transformer and found that it was way too small for the number of bulbs (not lights) in the house , so I bought a larger watt transformer, but it didn’t fix the problem ? Do you have any suggestions for me?? I don’t know what to do.
I will need to ask someone who knows more about issues like this, but I will get back to you asap with this question 😉 Hang on!
Hi again Regina
So I asked for further details.
‘ She will have to measure everything from the beginning of the circuit with a voltage meter to see if she is getting voltage everywhere. It is possible that either the wires have burned out, or a connection has come loose somewhere? Could there ever have been overvoltage on the circuit? If she doesn’t know that, she can ask someone from her friends to come and measure it.
Start at the beginning. Perhaps the connection of the transformer is no longer in order. That seems to me to be the main problem.
She will have to follow the wires from the room where the light is still on. You probably see the problem in the connection to the other rooms”
Hello from France,
I’m looking for a DIY power supply.
I found a vintage Lundby (garage sale, 15 euros ), with a few lights (10) but no transformer. Micki/Lundby sells one, but it’s too expensive for what it is (45 E ) !
So after looking at its description (5V 1.9A) , i thought i’d use some leftover cellphone transformers (i have the mini-plug for connecting to the dollhouse wall). I’m no electrician, but they are all 5V, amperage within the 5V [0.5-07]A range. Should be OK…
Did anybody else try to recycle phone chargers as dollhouse tranfos?
That is a very good question that I sadly have no answer to. You might want to ask that same question in my Facebook group?
Thanks for visiting my website and asking the question,
A follow up on the phone charger experiment… It works fine, lights turned on, no overheating (charger output is 5V, 700mA)
Of course the safest and best option will always be to use dollhouse specific electrical adapters, but if nothing else is available, a properly dimensioned phone charger is a working solution, provided you are well aware of the electrical requirements of your installation (bulb max voltage and power allowed/required, number of bulbs…).
Thank you for the follow-up and very good to know!