EL wire: separate controllable strands, single inverter, battery powered?

I'm making a light display that will respond to music! I want to use only one inverter for a number of EL wire strands (possibly 12 of them) but have them separately controllable using the Arduino. I've seen a number of ways to do this but I had a few questions.

This seems to be the best option: http://www.instructables.com/id/Programmable-LilyPad-EL-Wire-Dress/?ALLSTEPS For my project, adding another optocoupler/triac pair for each separate channel would be necessary.

Could I use solid state relays instead? What would be the pros/cons? The NTE3044 optocoupler is difficult to find. At Mouser it says that the part is not recommended for new designs. What does that mean and how could I find a equivalent part? I have read that inverters can be damaged if they are turned on while not connected to anything. Why is this?

Also to be considered: At any point in time while using my device, only 3 of the EL strands would need to be lit at once.

Thanks for helping me out!

You probably don't need the opto-couplers. This product from sparkfun has Z0103MN TRIACs connected directly to an ATmega168 (basically an Arduino Lillypad):

http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9203

So, you don't think there is any chance that the (relatively) high voltage from the inverter could zap the arduino?

spudnackle: So, you don't think there is any chance that the (relatively) high voltage from the inverter could zap the arduino?

Of course there is a chance that you could hook something up incorrectly or a component could fail and cause damage to your Arduino. I don't think that adding opto-couplers will prevent stupid mistakes so adding them might just reduce the chances of failure from 0.0001% to 0.00001%. Of course adding components also provides more opportunity for failure so in the end they might not even increase reliability. :)