Introduction: Dirt Cheap LEDs

Picture of Dirt Cheap LEDs

In this video, I will show you how to extract LEDs out of toys from the dollar store. Some toys contain up to 5 LEDs. In this video, I show a light saber type of toy, but I once saw a mug which lit up the glass it sat on that had 6 blue LEDs in it. All of this for a dollar is worth it!

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Step 1: Find the Toy

Picture of Find the Toy

First, you must find a toy from the dollar store that contains LEDs. Check every isle they are everywhere. If you want to get white, you can usually find them in the LED key chains by the electronics. The best thing about the key chains is that the LEDs usually still have their full leads attached.

Step 2: Open the Product

Picture of Open the Product

Open up the gadget and find the LEDs, there might also be some watch batteries or resistors.

Step 3: Desolder the LEDs

Picture of Desolder the LEDs

Now, simply heat up the solder connected to the LEDs, and pull gently. The LED should break free and you will be able to use them in other projects!

Step 4: The Final Product

Picture of The Final Product

When I was finished with this particular toy, I was left with 4 LEDs. I accidentally burn two of them, so I only have two to show but I had 2 reds, a green and a blue.


cheezyguy5 (author)2014-06-23

At you can get 1 led for $0.02, but there is a minimum order price of $5. Still, that's 250 leds!

mattccc (author)2009-05-31

led has dirt cheep leds

happybuilder (author)mattccc2010-02-28

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!! these are 7 dollars for one blue led!! you call that dirt cheap?

nixiadel (author)happybuilder2011-06-30

You were looking at he wrong section look at the 5mm section, second one down on the left side. $8.00 for 100 LEDs and the shipping is free.

Tomahawk92 (author)nixiadel2012-05-21

every once in a while i still buy 100 leds for 3-4 bucks on

zeroemission (author)mattccc2009-12-28


those are some REALLY great prices! i was psyched when i saw pretty good prices at, but LED shoppe has insanely great deals! i accidently came here looking for dirtcheapleds which used to have similar deals on red LEDs only, but your link has all colors.

it's amazing when many places, even online are selling LEDs at up to $1 or even more each that you can get more than 10x that amount.

thanx a bunch for the heads up. i was looking for a place to get a bunch of LEDs for a bike stereo rig initially, but at these prices, i can buy a bunch in bulk & have plenty for my DJ speaker towers too. EXCELLENT LINK!!! you rock!

spystealth1 (author)2012-05-20

Although I agree rummaging around a dollar store is a great way to find cool junk, I can get LEDs for 2-3¢ each with cheap shipping. That's a lot cheaper if you want a lot.

progman63 (author)2011-08-23

I do this all the time for really stupid little projects even though it might not be quite as cheap as buying bulk components.

One benefit of buying cheap items like this is that you will get the LEDs, a case (if you can use it for a project), sometimes a simple controller circuit, and batteries/switches/etc.

Esp. for small one-off projects, you get most of the junk you need, and everything is already wired up for you.

Cheap, quick, easy.....

Ad15 (author)2011-02-28

Hey thanks for the video, do you think you could do a tutorial on how to make 3-D letters that light up using those cheap lights? It doesn't have to look great in light just in the dark when it lights up, thanks! :)

Dr Qui (author)2011-02-21

I buy Hazard Zone Radion Rod Spray by Rose.

Its one of those mega sour spray candies, comes with a red blue or green LED plus 3 batteries already with housing and crude push button switch.

The spay bottle can also be reused once you have used all the candy spray up.

All this for 80p

sk8er6 (author)2010-05-03

sk8er6 (author)2010-05-03

i bought 2 led nightlights from the dollar tree today for a buck a piece. i did catch a little crap from the checkout guy for buying nightlights, but i went to high school with him so i let him live. each nightlight had 3 5mm bulbs, a blue, green, and red. i put the blue in a pc case for a power led. so i know it can take the 5v. i dont have a multimeter, so im a trial and error guy. ive been shopping at the dollar store for stuff for projects and mods for a while. audio jacks, lan/crossover cables, usb ports/jacks, and some tools are trustworthy even. so im happy. last time i switched a case led, i bought 1 blue led for $3.47! outrageous.

kingamoth (author)2008-12-23

what about these new LED christmas lights they have out now days

They are great, and I have tried removing the LEDs, but they keyword there was *tried*. Most of the brands sold have non removable bulbs. Only in this past holiday season have I seen removable LED bulbs. In this case, it is a good idea to buy up the replacement packs, and you are all set. The key here is the removable bulb though... the other sets are moulded in, and it requires heat and too much effort for it to be worth it.

Big Lots or other stores of their type sell Christmas lights cheap during the year and you can get hundreds of LEDs for $2.99. I have built a charlieplexed piece out of LEDs taken from the light strands. Also the plastic lenses that make the bulb for the LEDs might be usable in some other project that I have not thought of yet.

aw I was going to buy up a lot after xmas is all over because i know they will be on sale for a little bit i figured you could get them cheaper that way but i didnt think about(or tried Iyet) moldings etc

tech123456789 (author)2009-05-22

i got 25 blue leds for free from an old controlboard

carvin127 (author)2009-05-08

I was just thinking that getting 6 LEDs out of a mug at a dollar store is not very "dirt cheap" when you can buy 100 of 'em on eBay for less than $10 plus "free shipping" too. Just my 2 cents. :)

irwinner (author)2008-02-01 = dirt cheap electronics, can get leds for less than 25 cents a piece and even cheaper if you bulk order

schithen (author)irwinner2009-02-26

I agree digikey key has a large, cheap selection (including tri-color)

schorhr (author)2008-02-02

How about 1000 for $10?
(Shipping will be arround $10, but thats still just arround 2 cents per LED, plus depending on the country you are in smaller orders are tax free (Europe up to 22 Euro per Order)

Jeebiss (author)schorhr2008-08-18

Those arnt even real red LEDs. They are crappy dull white ones with a red tinted casing.

schorhr (author)Jeebiss2008-08-18

White ones are actually more difficult/more expensive to produce. The casing is just resin, the color is from the LED chip itself and mostly only tinted so it is obvious what color the led will emit when powered.

Jeebiss (author)schorhr2008-08-18

You are correct. I was mistaken.

xxfoxracer9xx (author)Jeebiss2009-01-14

we need more people like u in the world who will admit their mistakes i give u huge props and thumbs up

evanwehrer (author)xxfoxracer9xx2009-02-02

Agreed. Normally you would expect a long and drawn out argument on why LED's are more/less expensive to make then end up as a long string of (removed by community request)

Estwald (author)schorhr2008-04-04

Or how about: .
14000mcd 100Packs White 5Mm Led $10.01 shipped free direct from Hong Kong ?
Warning: is a dangerous place for modders.

spork969 (author)Estwald2008-12-22


Estwald (author)spork9692008-12-23

As in Dangerous to your wallet.

cornflaker (author)Estwald2009-01-16

Ah because you buy to much stuff from them? Yeah I can agree with that lol, so much good stuff so cheap (even after the American to Australian conversion rates lol) and the free shipping kinda adds to the incentive...

computerwiz_222 (author)spork9692008-12-23

Yeah, how is this dangerous at all? If anything it just helps your piggy bank from loosing too much weight... Although these LEDs from China are cheap, I placed an order from LEDShoppe about a month ago for over $500.00. All the LEDs came, and they are in excellent condition with exactly the specs they specify...

Estwald (author)computerwiz_2222008-12-23

Look at the title of this 'structable again. This IS about LEDs on the cheap for the hobbyist, not about production quantities.

computerwiz_222 (author)Estwald2008-12-23

True, but if you are making some sort of a display, or a flash light, or something that requires more than 5, the moulded LEDs can be a pain, and it usually results in more than half of the LEDs being broken upon extraction... I like to buy the LEDs, and cut them up and rewire them to run off USB... Although completely useless, fun nonetheless..

WriotE (author)schorhr2008-02-08

it says they are diffused. do they work?

schorhr (author)WriotE2008-02-08

Why not?

computerwiz_222 (author)schorhr2008-02-02

those are simply indicators. Those LEDs are the cheapest around for 2 reasons. 1. Red is the cheapest to produce. 2. They are not super bright. I must have at least a thousand of those in my garage from people giving me parts from when they prototyped something at work or the like.

LoveforBlueFarms (author)2009-01-06

tip for the people that like to salvage parts LED's come in alot of voltages so if you buy a toy turn it on and put multi-meter on the led to check the voltage (make sure you put directly on led so you don't get voltage before a resistor)

Keeter (author)2008-03-30

This is a fun little way to do things. Yes, we all know you can buy in bulk online for cheap. Yes we all know these aren't the greatest quality LEDs. But they are fast and easy. And if you pick the right toys you can salvage more than just the LED, (ive salvaged good battery casings, assorted wires, switches, knobs, watch batteries, plus the LEDs etc. all for one dollar). And about the comment that they dont have the flattened end to note the netative lead.... well usually the negative side is the one attached to the negative side of the battery when you open it up, just a thought though ;)

lmn (author)Keeter2008-11-11

Its not like figuring out the negative is hard to do anyways

netbuddy (author)Keeter2008-10-12

Depends on where you go to, I have a supplier that ships minimum $25 orders but you get allot for your dollar. The LED's are proper bright white rated with the value of 6700K and 7200K which is spot on. Most white LED's on the market are only the 4300K or 2300K types. It pays to check what your buying, the Kelvin factor is important when picking an LED.

Plasmana (author)2008-10-15

Ha! I usually do that sort of thing...

reesea17 (author)2008-10-14

these light sabers can also be found at party stores. they also sell dollar fiber optic tri-color led wands.

bustedit (author)2008-08-21

look in the tool (?) section at the dollar tree chains and u will find a horn, it is a small film canister sized cylinder w a rubber membrane on one end (horn) and an open end to blow thru, with a small rectangular detachable box inside containing 3 leds, red, grn, blue, 3 batteries, and asmall circuit that flashes. well worth a dollar.

geeklord (author)2008-08-08

any idea if theres any place/website to buy OLED (organic light emitting diode) strips?. that would be cool

Joanassie (author)2008-07-07

Comment: AWESOME! Question: Which dollar store is the lightsaber knockoff from?

99cent depot There are 2 within 5 minutes driving distance of my house...

Well is that in Canada?

doo da do (author)2008-04-16

remember you can salvage the batteries also, nice cheap supply you get batteries and led

awkrin (author)2008-04-14

worst desoldering technique ever! there's a high chance that u will burn your sleeve

computerwiz_222 (author)awkrin2008-04-14

lmao... Its hard to desolder "for the camera".

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