Picture of Battery Powered LED Christmas Lights
Christmas lights are good for more than just decorating your tree. You could make a sparkleball with them. But what if you want to hang it from your ceiling? You would have to plug the lights into an outlet and I don't know about you but I don't have outlets in my ceiling. So why not make them battery powered?
I've only tried this with one type of Christmas lights so if you try it with other types and it doesn't work... Well then that sucks.
Anyway this is really simple and won't take long at all. Maybe like ten minutes tops if you include searching through drawers for stuff like batteries and cleaning up a broken lightbulb.

Step 1: Stuff

Picture of Stuff
There aren't many things you need for this. Just a set of LED Christmas lights, two AA batteries, and a battery case that you can connect to the Christmas lights. A pair of scissors might help too, as well as duct tape or heat shrink tubing.
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rsaltrelli8 months ago


I'm trying this with a 35 count strand of Holiday Living C3 LEDs and a 4 AA battery pack. It's not working and my suspicion is that the LEDs actually run on AC power. I lopped off the male plug, inserted it into an AC outlet and read 120 ACV on the wires that were feeding the strand with my multimeter. Is this a thing? Are there AC LEDs out there?

A little more research indicated that the type of current doesn't matter (AC vs DC) it's the voltage. The string of lights I was using was wired in series to take advantage of a 120 ACV power outlet. To get the lights to run off my 6 DCV battery pack, I had to cut them up and rewire them to be in parallel. This did the trick. I'm only doing a dozen lights on a wreath so it wasn't too bad. Much more than that and it wouldn't be worth the effort. It's pretty tedious work.

GabrielE310 months ago


I was hoping to get some advice.. I was trying to power some xmas lights... converting them from the ac adapter to a dc battery holder. The lights are 2.5v.

I bought battery packs that hold 6 AA. Will this work? Is there a point where there would be too much battery power? OR more battery just means it will run longer?

Even with 6AA batteries you should still have 2.5 Volts of power just more capacity. Good Luck!

DIY Dave8 months ago

That looks great. Thanks for the inspiration! I'm planning to make a wreath with battery powered lights for my front door. I'll update you with pictures if I end up making it.

Barrettkg6 years ago
Is there any way to do this with regular "old timey" Christmas lights?
Sunbanks (author)  Barrettkg6 years ago
I'm not sure, I was going to try it once but then I didn't
you can just be careful of the lead in the wires
PCfreak djcj989 months ago

there is no lead in copper wire only in lead rosin solder

Your project will only work if the LEDs are is parallel if in series it won't work, also if you solder everything it will be stronger.
I got the lights, I got the battery pack, I got the batteries. Then I tried to wire them together and it got hot, really hot, and nothing happened. I tried 2 AA, 3 AA, and even a D... I'm at a loss. Any suggestions?
you have to make sure that you have enough volts. normal Christmas light are 2.4v a bulb. (an ac outlet puts out 120v. so a strand of 50 lights would be 2.4v a bulb). you want to have more volts then needed to make the bulbs burn brighter. (a 2.4v bulb wants 2.5v)
nodoubtman2 years ago
you can replace AC power supply with 2 AA ??

what is the battery power supply voltage?

thank you!
you can connect it to AC via a power supply, which generates DC..

voltage is 3v i think.. :D
sujun02053 years ago
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albhednomad4 years ago
Just would like drop a thanx off. this really helps with the little project I'm doing. I'm going to the midnight premier of Tron: Legacy and wanted to get in the mood with a lighted vest. well....partially lighted. I'm a big heartless fan and almost all my stuff has the symbol. so I'm making a light up heartless insignia on the back of my lucky/favorite vest. this will surely help. so, again, thanx.
walklands4 years ago
Thanks for the instructable. Hope your still about, noticed I'm 2 years out of date!

Never thought of using a mains powered pre made string. Any chance this would work on a set bought in the UK? What about resisters to protect the Leds?

Sunbanks (author)  walklands4 years ago
I really have no idea if it would work with lights bought in the UK. It's sometimes kind of a hit and miss when you're choosing the lights.
BlacktigerO4 years ago
Hello sun banks
I have one question for you about the battery ran Xmas lights. I was wondering if it would work with rc rechargeable batteries...? I was going to use http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3999878 to be exact.

Thanks for your time.
i did that and found out that they dont work ;-(
Sunbanks (author)  devicemodder6 years ago
:( What kind of Christmas lights did you use?
i used Noma led lights with c6 bulbs
You're probably in the same boat I'm in. They're High intensity LED's. They need more wattage. Step up to 3-AA's. I'm using a C3 and it took the 3-AA's to get it running (experimenting with 1 LED).
thanks. they are wired in series.
olddawg olddawg6 years ago
Update for you; It may not be just power causing the problem, I'm running on 2-AA's now. The problem for me is the wiring. I can only run multiple LED's if wired in parallel.
mrskimmyl6 years ago
Thanks so much for this! Battery operated Christmas light strands cost 3 times as much as regular strands!
Sunbanks (author)  mrskimmyl6 years ago
Wow, I never know they were so much!
blahlazer6 years ago
I tried this and it didn't work for me. I bought the same kind of lights shown except it was the multi-colored ones. I cut off the female end of the lights and tried to power it, but this was a no go. I plugged in the male connector to a wall socket and it still worked. After removing the male end, I tried to power the lights with two C batteries but this did not work, so I tried 4 and then 6 C batteries, still nothing. Since that didn't work I removed a battery out of one of my APC power units and tried to power the lights with it, but that didn't work either. I figured there might be too many lights, so I cut them and half and tried again, nothing. After failing so many times, I test a few of the LEDs individually and they still worked. Any suggestions?
Sunbanks (author)  blahlazer6 years ago
I'm not sure what the problem would be, I used the multicolored ones for this also. I don't think the problem would be that you cut the female end off the lights because when I read your comment I cut the end off my string of lights and they still worked.
Plasmana6 years ago
This is odd... Lights that works on 120 volts can also work with 3 volts? Then will a ordinary light bulb work?
Sunbanks (author)  Plasmana6 years ago
These work on 120 volts?
The lights you are using, are they LED's?
Sunbanks (author)  Plasmana6 years ago
Ahh, everything makes sense to me now... Thanks for telling me!
Yes, if you could find a 3v 33amp battery.... By theory anyway...
Don't think of it as voltage, think of wattage.

A 100 watt light bulb at 120vac uses .8 amps (give or take).
That same bulb run on my 12vdc system uses 8 amps (again give or take).

My 50 string of LED's uses 4.8 watts to run on 120vac.
4.8 watts / 4.5 vdc ( what I need to run them) = 1amp (give or take)
3-AA's wired to 4.5 vdc only has 1.5 to 2 amps available.
The string should only last 1 hour.

As I understand it to be.... I'm still learning here..
gmjhowe6 years ago
nice work sunny! works a treat!
Sunbanks (author)  gmjhowe6 years ago
Thanks! :D
I've done a post to see if anyone has done something like this. Nice to see you have. Question for you; I assume this is a typical 110v string light, so powering them with 2-AA seems way under powered. I didn't see that you re-wired the lights to match voltage.... Aren't they dim? I'm about to try this with my 12v system, but I'm going to wire the lights to match voltage. After seeing this, I may just try hooking them up 'as is' first and see how bright they are.
Sunbanks (author)  olddawg6 years ago
Surprisingly they aren't dim. I was afraid they would be but then when I did this they weren't.
Biggest question is (and I should have asked this before): How long did it last? The follow up is: What size LED? I just bought a string of 50 C3's and by my math would only run an hour..... Real curious as to the time and size of the LED's. I just put up 3 strings of Icicles on my garage drawing (what I figure to be) 1.5 watts from my 12v system and am really interested as to what you're doing here.
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