Introduction: 10W Retro-Futuristic LED Lamp

Picture of 10W Retro-Futuristic LED Lamp

LEDs could be very efficient and  economical in long term use. A 10W LED lamp can replace a 100w incandescent lamp or a 30W compact fluorescent lamp. Despite an relatively high initial cost, compared with other kinds of domestic lamps, your electric bill could drop significantly if you use it instead.

Here I will show to you how to make your own stylish 10W Retro-Futuristic LED Lamp, spending around US$ 25 bucks. Let's go!

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You will need:

1. One old burned compact fluorescent lamp, for the LED lamp socket  (anyone serves);

2. Two grip flat connectors;

3. One 10W LED: - color of your choice;

4. Two little screws (search in your tech scrap);

5. One 10W LED driver:

6. Thermal paste;

7. One old computer cooler (search in your tech scrap);

8. Heat shrink tubing;

9. 30 cm of wire (2 mm). 

Step 2: Tools

Picture of Tools

You will need also:

1. Soldering iron;

2. Little screwdriver;

3. Small plier cutter;

4. Long nose plier;

5. Medium plier cutter;

6. Puncture tool;

7. Flat screwdriver;

8. Grip plier;

9. Little drill;

10. Electric drilling machine.

Your will need some oil drops too.

Step 3: Disassembling the Compact Fluorescent Lamp

Picture of Disassembling the Compact Fluorescent Lamp

Be careful to not break the CFC lamp. The glass could cut you and there are mercury inside the lamp. 

Slowly try to open the base of the lamp, inserting the flat screwdriver and moving it up and down along the junction. These could damage the plastic a little, but it's not critical. You could after scrape the plastic with a knife or sand it to minimize the faults.

Carefully cut the two wires that join the circuit with the socket, without break the connection. Now cut about 0.5 cm of the insulation of the wire.

Step 4: Welding the LED Driver to the Socket

Picture of Welding the LED Driver to the Socket

Place two pieces of heat shrink tubing around the wires. It is important to isolate them and make a good finish.

Now solder the two wires to the AC wires of the LED driver and position and heat the heat shrink tubing for shrinking.

Step 5: Cutting the Base

Picture of Cutting the Base

Make a little V cut in the plastic base to pass the wires.

Step 6: Boring the Base

Picture of Boring the Base

Make two little aligned opposite holes with the soldering iron, and scrap them with a knife. 
Now pass the 30 cm wire through them.

Step 7: Bolting the LED

Picture of Bolting the LED

Place the LED in the center of the cooler.

Mark the holes with a pencil-case and make a punctuation in them.

Drop a bit of oil and make the holes with the driller. Choose a drill a little smaller then the screws. They will make the screw when you tighten it in the soft metal of the cooler (cooper or aluminum).

Before you tighten them, apply some thermal paste below the LED.

Step 8: Connecting the Grip Flat Connectors

Picture of Connecting the Grip Flat Connectors

Cut a little dent in the side of the connector of the LED, to not interfere with the sliding of the grip flat connector.

Make some adjustment in the grip connector with the plier, if necessary. They have to stay tightly connected in the LED contacts.

Step 9: Linking the Parts

Picture of Linking the Parts

Now, put the cooler above the driver and pass the wire inside the fins of the cooler. 

Cut the wire leaving approximately 1 cm above the cooler.

Bend tightly the wire on the cooler, so that all stay firm.

Step 10: Linking the LED

Picture of Linking the LED

Grip the DC wires of the LED driver to the LED connectors. If one wire is short because the position, solder another piece on it.

The standard polarity is positive (red) to the LED contact with a little semicircle mark.

However, the chinese have poor standards and I have found some LEDs that have inverted polarity. Don't worry, if it does not turn on in three seconds, just switch the two wires that go to the LED contacts. The LED will not burn out.

Don't look directly to the LED! It's very, very bright and could damage your eyes. Be safe.

Step 11: Finishing - the Diffuser

Picture of Finishing - the Diffuser

The LED alone is very bright and cast sharp shadows. You could make the light more smooth with a diffuser.

Cut the base of a 2L PET bottle and sand it grossly. Make four holes and put little hook wires in them. Now fit the diffuser below the LED lamp and voilá! You are the first in the block to have a 10W Retro-Futuristic LED Lamp!

Have fun and help to save the planet!


Lindsley (author)2016-07-11

Hi. You can use the LED lamp of these instructable. The driver can be pluged in 100-240Vac and 10W is plenty of light. But the format is different of the tube, I know. There are LED lamps in tubes in the market. They have a LED strip inside a plastic tube, plus a little driver circuit. You have to know only the code of the lamp type and the lenght. Around 10W is fine.

KDS4444 (author)2013-11-06

I realize this conversation is now over three years old, but it brings up some questions for me that remain unanswered with regard to current, voltage, drivers, and LEDs. I had been under the impression that any electrical device "draws" current as required, and that too much voltage is what causes them to fail. I have now let this notion go, and am accepting that high-power LEDs draw whatever they can in terms of current until they die. Got it. But this then leaves me with this question: if I have a power supply that is rated to 1A, doesn't that mean that the power supply is only "good for" one amp of power and that if you try to draw more than one amp through it, it will overhead and die on its own? And if so, doesn't this make finding a power supply for a high power LED rather difficult? Or am I not understanding the difference between a power supply and a driver? Or can a power supply contain a current-limiting driver? Or is such a driver a standard thing in most power supplies?

Here's the recent quandry: I have a series of five white power LEDs that I am running in series using an old power supply from a computer that claims to put out 18.5V of power and 3.5A of current. These bulbs seem to be doing OK (I have not run them very long, not more than 2 hours at a time over the past few days) though they do get rather hot (I have them attached to an aluminum bar, a finned aluminum heatsink, and then a fan on top of that and they still get quite hot). I am still rather disappointed with their brightness, though. They are bright, but by themselves even all five are not bright enough for my intended design (an aquarium hood). I also had a set of 3 such LEDs hooked up to a 12V 2A supply for a couple of hours— I finally got the brightness I wanted, but then the bulbs slowly burned out and are now useless. I am about to get a new 10W RGB power LED that I would really rather not destroy. The manufacturer claims the bulbs run at 30-34V and a current of 1.5A. I would rather have the bulb slightly under-driven and last forever than overdriven and burnt out in a year. Can I get some help figuring out what kind of power supply I should be using with this new lamp? I have read ever message above and the constant back and forth of it ("You are wrong about X", "No, you are totally wrong about X", etc. becomes very, very confusing!). Thanks!

ac-dc (author)KDS44442016-02-09

There are two popular methods for power supply regulation, either for it to measure the output voltage, or for it to measure the output current. The latter is what is used on a power supply usually called an LED "driver". It can vary the voltage until the current spec you desire for the particular LED is met. Even so, these also have current, voltage and and thermal limitations and may fail if those limitations are exceeded.

Lindsley (author)2013-11-20

Man, why don´t you buy a cheap LED driver from DX? Problem solved, without headaches.

ac-dc (author)Lindsley2016-02-09

Cheap drivers are an early failure rate and often do not output what they claim to, plus if you don't care that it's low quality, you can get the exact same thing cheaper elsewhere. DX was a good option many years ago but is no longer cost competitive except for items they stock in a US warehouse so the US buyer isn't waiting a month to receive the item.

dingdongding (author)2016-01-25

I want to connect 3 10w led chip parallel ,can I use 1 30w led driver that I could buy from ebay to do that ? I heard that it is not a good idea to connect power led paralle l ,is that true or I have to buy 3 individual 10w driver to do that? Thank you for any input.

tom.hamby.737 (author)2015-01-25

Where can I find supplies, a website to get the parts for the LED lamp projects? Ebay or somewhere else, I am an electronics tech 1st for USMC, then for the USPS... need supply of parts, where to find, hoping to light my shed and several rooms in the house, with low electricity usage. Thank you for any help you can give me, I worked on Communications gear, not lighting... totally differnt than wave propegation... thank you all for your help

Lindsley (author)2011-09-14

Well... Today, my five LED lamps was functioning whitout any problems for more than one year. I think that is a good testing time for me.

burn317 (author)2011-01-08

I'm very amateur when it comes to electronics but still trying to self teach as much as I can. wouldn't you be able to use the current power supply in the cf bulb housing and run a series of leds off of that?
its my understanding that the bulbs burn quicker than the components behind them.

Lindsley (author)burn3172011-01-09

The CFL power supply can't be used for LEDs. They use high frequency AC to light the tube. You have to use current constant drivers for LEDs, voltage and current according with the LED specs. Or use resistors to limit the current, but they are inefficient.

sreeci (author)2010-11-26

EGO issue !

Electronics Blurred (author)2010-09-09

Nice instructable !
Nice design , too , but there's one thing , add a cover like those ceiling CFL's have , or else somebody's gonna go blind looking at it , for real .
How about installing a fan too ? It might get hot , why not ;) especially if you encase the cooling fin in a case , i might be wrong , but you could correct me .

I have done this project about 3 years ago, with 1 watt LED.
The heat sink was from an old CPU cooler with integral fan.
without the fan , junction temperature was recorded as 140 F.
As soon as the fan kicked on, it dropped down to room temp, ie 70 F.
Thanks for the info.

The diffuser have the function to soften the light, and it's ok. These LED is really very bright and there are many other options to diffuse his light. I choose a very cheap.
The fan is not necessary, if the cooler is exposed. It reaches 53 Celsius, and the LED supports it. Don't close this thing with a case or it will fry. In this case, the fan is mandatory.

ac-dc (author)Lindsley2010-09-23

Your conclusion is premature. It is not the temperature of the heatsink that matters, it is the temperature of the LED die. Similiarly you don't know the temperature of a car engine by measuring the radiator temperature.

Further, I cannot recommend using the generic power supply linked, it appears to not be UL listed and may be unsafe. I would be glad to be wrong though, if you will provide the CE and FCC certificates for it that are implied by the stamps on its label and a proof that the components are the same as submitted for the certification.

Further, mounting the power supply above the heatsink will heat it up, I would be worried about it causing a fire.

rattyrain (author)ac-dc2010-09-27

I think people need to stop judging others' intelligence based on how well they speak English; it doesn't work too well. I judge intelligence based on whether or not one has a profile picture.

Lindsley (author)ac-dc2010-09-23

Well, I'm using five of these LED lamps in my home without any problems. The circuit inside the CFL heats a lot also (in a closed case), and don't burn out. The temperature of the air around the LED could be up to 80 degree Celsius, so 53 degree in the cooler is OK.

Dr.Bill (author)2010-10-29

Just ordered the parts for the light. Wish there was something like this for Hot Water Heaters in apartments. Not allowed to modify the heater at all or anything else for that matter. Very good project.

Thank you Instructables for the spell checker.........

frankmiao (author)2010-10-26

Hi Lindsley, I run into this post by accident. I am Frank from SatiLED company. I would like say Thanks on behalf of all our company. My question is if we can quote this article on our blog. And as a reward, we would like to send you one 10W power LED for free. Please contact me via to leave your registered email on our website.

Best regards

Lindsley (author)frankmiao2010-10-27

Dear Frank,
Thank you for your interest in my article. Of course that you can quote it in your blog. I'm working in other projects with your LEDs and I will send the link to you when they are finished.
Thanks for the 10w LED too!

Airazz (author)2010-10-09

Would this one work? It's cheaper.

Lindsley (author)Airazz2010-10-10

Yes. It is more cheaper because don't have the case or the wires, but it works well.

josephlebold (author)2010-10-02

I read somewhere that laser diodes can emit arsenic gas when they are destroyed.

josephlebold (author)2010-09-29

hmm so I would ask this question. what makes a resistor different?

why does a lower rated resistor get hot faster than a high rated resistor when connected to a power source? of course the resistor with less resistance draws more current. how is an LED different?

nerys says:
but not if the resistance increases HEAT which increased resistance and increases power demand.

now incandescent light bulbs have an increased resistance once the tungsten filament is heated up but there is no runaway overheating because of it because increased resistance = reduced current.

lindsley and switch62 seem to correspond to what I thought I knew about leds.

skrubol (author)josephlebold2010-09-29

V=IR, so if V is constant, as R increases, I must decrease to satisfy the equation. Also, be careful of your terminology with resistors. The value of a resistor is in ohms (resistance.) It also has tolerance in % and power rating in watts. A resistor with a higher power rating will get hot more slowly than a similarly rated resistor with a lower power rating, simply because it's bigger, and therefore has more thermal mass and surface area to shed that heat. Some high-power resistors come in small packages, but must be heatsinked.

LED's are not resistors. As they heat up, their current increases for a fixed voltage (similar to resistance going down.) This is how most semiconductors work. Normal conductors such as metals behave the opposite, as they heat up their resistance increases. Ceramic resistors resistance usually drops a very small amount as their temperature increases. The compounds used in resistors is chosen very carefully to minimize changes in their resistance due to temperature.

josephlebold (author)skrubol2010-09-30

Thank you
That was a perfect explanation. It corresponds Exactly to what I had in mind.
nerys please read and understand the truth in his explanation.

nerys (author)josephlebold2010-09-30

There is nothing really for me to read at least not as you intended.

he is saying what I said but he is using the correct terminology :-)

end result is the same

"As they heat up, their current increases for a fixed voltage"

as current increases they heat up as they heat up current increases as current increases they heat up.

We are saying the same thing I was just using the wrong words.

Point stands. if you don't properly cool and properly control the current to an LED it will get hot and as it gets hot it draws MORE CURRENT which makes it get hotter etc.. etc.. till it nukes itself.

I am sorry I used the wrong words - I got them from someone else without fully understanding them. I just understood the "process" without having the correct words to describe the process I knew.

josephlebold (author)nerys2010-10-02

good good. I understand you now. :)

kill-a-watt (author)2010-09-21

Thermo contractile tube = heat shrink tubing

kill-a-watt (author)kill-a-watt2010-09-21

Iron solder is commonly called a "soldering iron" in the USA. (odd because the tip is actually copper.)

"weld" here we commonly say "solder".

I'd say you went a little overboard on the thermal paste, but what do I know?

s/Don't worry, if it not turn on in tree seconds, just invert the wires, or the LED contacts./Don't worry, if it does not turn on in three seconds, just switch the two wires that go to the LED contacts./g

This is truly an outstanding instructable! I hope I'm not being overly rude on the edits. I see you are from Brazil, and your English is far better than my Portuguese.

USD $25 buys me 151.1 watts of electricity, so replacing a 100 watt bulb with this would save me $25 after 1515 hours of use (less than half a year at 10 hours of use per day). A compact florescent would take about three times as long for the same return. I think to buy a bulb like this in the store (already made) would cost about $65 each.

kill-a-watt (author)kill-a-watt2010-09-21

s/ USD $25 buys me 151.1 watts of electricity / USD $25 buys me 151.1 kilowatts of electricity /g

Etitan (author)kill-a-watt2010-09-23

not to nag, but $25 probably buys you 151.1 kilowatt hours of electricity

kill-a-watt (author)Etitan2010-09-28

I've got too many "irons in the fire" right now to give your answer the full reply it deserves, but I've got some "soldering coppers" that were left in the flame of a gasoline torch to get hot enough, used to solder copper roofing.

I think good electrical soldering irons are copper tipped for good heat transfer, and then are "tinned" with solder instead of being iron clad. Most of the  electrical soldering iron shaft that contains the resistance element seems to be steel though.

kill-a-watt (author)kill-a-watt2010-09-30

Some must have broken or something and my witty comment was eaten and replaced with my witty comment for another comment.

Anyway, it seems I fell victim to that rule that says if you "grammar nazi" another post (even your own, as I did in this case) with a correction, you yourself will make a grammar error.

For that reason, Etitan, I'm not going to point out anything wrong in your reply ;-)

Lindsley (author)kill-a-watt2010-09-22

You could have detailed and helpful information about LED's and electricity costs here.

ac-dc (author)kill-a-watt2010-09-23

Actually the tip on any decent soldering iron is iron, or at least iron clad. Only the very cheap soldering irons use lesser materials for the tip surface in contact with the solder, but actually they are called soldering irons because in early days people soldered by heating up a piece of iron in a fire or oven, irons weren't electric in the beginning.

kill-a-watt (author)ac-dc2010-09-28

I've got too many "irons in the fire" right now to give your answer the full reply it deserves, but I've got some "soldering coppers" that were left in the flame of a gasoline torch to get hot enough, used to solder copper roofing.

I think good electrical soldering irons are copper tipped for good heat transfer, and then are "tinned" with solder instead of being iron clad. Most of the  electrical soldering iron shaft that contains the resistance element seems to be steel though.

menahunie (author)kill-a-watt2010-09-23

True the prices on LED lights is really high now; but are coming down.
But switching to LED lights is not really cost effective in price and power savings. I do use LED lights where power use is at a premium though; like in my RV when on battery power.
Like As a versatile bulb that burns comparably bright to a standard incandescent, but still costs less over the long term and burns more efficiently, the CFL Bulb may be your best bet. An advantage the CFL has over the LED is an upfront-cost that is considerably lower and far closer to the incandescent. In fact, if overall cost is your only concern, the cost of new LED bulbs may be more than you want to spend. Over the life of an LED, you are only going to see dramatic savings over the CFL if you are in an area that has high energy costs. For example, LED and CFL bulbs at a standard $0.10 rate, and found that you would save about $11 over 60,000 hours. I also compared the two at $0.33 (what a friend pays) where the savings jumps to $120 over the life of an LED.
So for now I continue to use CFL's.

kill-a-watt (author)menahunie2010-09-28

I use conventional bulbs, compact florescent bulbs and some LED bulbs in my house.

There are several seldom used closets and the attic where any kind of florescent bulb would make zero sense. It's also worth remembering that an CF bulb is just as easy to smash with an object as a regular bulb. If the bulb is exposed and low (attic) I use the regular kind. If I only use that bulb for a few hours per year, I use regular bulbs.

I have several LED bulbs that were rated as 1.5 watts and were suppose to give off light like a 40 watt incandescent. Both claims were used dogfood. The LEDs do make great nightlights and they draw about a half a watt each. I can keep one burning 24/7/365 for less than a buck a year:

(.5 watt * 24 hours * 365 days ) / 1000 watts in a KWH * .165 (cost of one KWH) = $0.72

Everything else is CF bulbs or tube florescent. I've sworn off dimmable lights until dimmable LEDs "arrive" at the right price point.

I would think in an RV you would use 12 volt LED arrays rather than convert up to 110 AC and use mains powered LED bulbs.

Lindsley (author)kill-a-watt2010-09-21

Thanks for your comments. I already make the edit.
The thermal paste could be less, you´re wright.
Don´t forget that the LED have 50.000 hours of lifetime, instead the other lamps, and don´t degrade if you turn it on and off several times a day.

ac-dc (author)Lindsley2010-09-23

You will not achieve anywhere near 50,000 hours lifetime with the LED running hot on this design.

Further your initial statement that it saves money is wrong. A 10W LED in this design is not more light than a 10W CFL light IF you had used a higher efficiency LED than the generic one linked which makes it worse.

Further I suspect your post is SPAM for the store linked and you should be ashamed to be taking advantage of this website to pimp products.

nerys (author)ac-dc2010-09-24

actually its about the same light as a 13watt CFL (not even counting that some 40% of the CFL's lumens are wasted on the ceiling)

so it saves 3+ watts and lasts a lot longer IF you under volt it.

gnawlej (author)ac-dc2010-09-23

Funny, none of the spam I get offers detailed DIY instructions.

Lindsley (author)ac-dc2010-09-23

Your suspect is a shame for you. I live in Brazil, not in China, and I don't have any personal profit giving that information.

budclarkde (author)kill-a-watt2010-09-23

WHAT ABOUT MERCURY EXPOSURE from the CFL bulb? How do you protect your body from that?

ac-dc (author)budclarkde2010-09-23

By not breaking it then rubbing shards of glass all over yourself, there is no mercury exposure during normal use of a CFL bulb.

Lindsley (author)ac-dc2010-09-23

By not breaking it when you carefully separate the base also there is no mercury exposure to you.

fly_boy_bc (author)Lindsley2010-09-23

When I was a kid they gave me a little bottle of mercury IN SCIENCE CLASS. The ONLY safety instructions were "don't eat any". I played with the stuff with my bare hands for about 20 minutes. I don't remember if I even washed my hands afterwards. I then spent the next 20 years using old style solder taking NO precautions. I am fine. One exposure to mercury (even a relatively intense exposure) will NOT kill you. I also spent 25 years in the optical industry exposed to "Woods alloy" although by then I knew to be careful about it. It's all about cumulative exposure NOT being "poisoned" all at once.

biocow (author)fly_boy_bc2010-09-23

Most likely you were handling elemental mercury. Other types of mercury ave are very dangerous.

fly_boy_bc (author)biocow2010-09-23

ALL mercury is very dangerous when exposed over and over again. NO mercury can kill you with only one exposure unless you drink it!

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