Picture of Electric Umbrella
Turn an ordinary umbrella into something whimsical and magical. The Electric Umbrella will glow with many pinpoints of light. Carry the sun and the stars with you at night! Perfect for night-time strolls through the countryside or just being silly. And it's dimmer adjustable so you can set how bright you want to be - anywhere from dim ambient light for strolling in the dark to carrying your own portable supernova beacon of light!

Step 1: What you need

Picture of What you need
The things that you need may be found through some combination of local stores, electronics parts shops, online and scrounging parts from old electronic junk you may have lying around.

Parts & Equipment:

-One umbrella, preferably light colored (I picked yellow), with a straight handle and with a hollow shaft so that you may pass wires through it. It is very important that the umbrella be simple - none of that spring loaded-automatic stuff! You want the shaft to be hollow.

-64 SMD (surface mount) LEDs in your color of choice. The actual size does not matter except that smaller will look more invisible (preferable) but will be more difficult to work with. I used size 805 (2mm wide) 3.5V white LEDs. White, blue, UV & some greens require 3.5 Volts and won't require additional resistors on each LED, but 1.8V LEDs (red, yellow, green) do (more trouble!)

-A spool of thin single strand, lacquered copper wire. Thin enough to be almost invisible against the umbrella, but thick enough to withstand the occasional stresses/snags. This is what the SMD LEDs will be soldered onto.

-3AA battery holder, preferably compact and arranged in an L shape, as the batteries will have to lie over the umbrella's shaft. 3AAA batteries would work well too, and are more compact, but won't last as long.

-Normal plastic coated multi-strand copper wire, preferably the kind that will not break easily after repeated flexing.

-One 750 Ohm variable resistor with built-in on/off switch for dimming and turning the umbrella on & off.

-Needle and thread (of the same color as the umbrella)

-Solder and Soldering iron/gun

-Wire cutters, wire strippers, scissors, x-acto knife

-Drill and drill bits

-Large board and small nails, to be used for laying out the wires and soldering the SMD LEDs onto the wires.

-Masking tape and double sided tape/carpet tape

-Clear epoxy or Glue, super-glue
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starforest6 months ago

Wow! That is a great project.

OlafH6 months ago

very very creative! Awsome project

ASCAS6 months ago

Awesome project!

You just gave me an idea to use the sticky LED flex strips to make a super-bright umbrella! :))

adamwatters6 months ago


IanGraham99911 months ago

Hi Sockmaster!

Wow! This is an absolute marvel!

I was worried I may have made a promise I couldn't keep to my better half, until I saw this excellent effort of yours!

But I do have a couple of questions, if don't mind answering, that would be grand!

1) I don't understand how the voltage works out, I though that each LED had to have it's voltage worked out. I.E. a 1.8v LED would need 1.8v, 2 would need 3.6v, 64 would need 115.2v! Obviously, it would be impractical to have 77 batteries, but I don't get how 3 batteries has powered this array!

2) With regards the variable resistor (or volume control potentiometer, if you listen to matey below!), 750ohm seems to be like rocking horse poo! However 500ohm and 1kohm are readily available, which would be the better option?

Sorry to be a bore, but I would appreciate your time!


sockmaster (author)  IanGraham99911 months ago

I would probably avoid 1.8V LEDs (usually the red, orange, yellow, yellowish-green ones) because they have a low internal resistance and would normally require a resistor on each LED (or have them wired in series). It makes things more complicated. If you wired them in sets of 4 in-series, then your battery would have to be ~7.2V (5 or 6 AAs or a 9V battery).

The 3.6V LEDs (usually green, blue, UV or white) have a higher internal resistance and are more tolerant of simply all being wired together in parallel. A 3.6V or 4.5V battery will happily light up bunch of them wired in parallel.

a 1KOhm variable resistor would be better. 500 Ohm would work too, but the 'darkest' setting would be brighter.

RoeyLeon2 years ago
a2262633 years ago
"It is very important that the umbrella be simple - none of that spring loaded-automatic stuff! You want the shaft to be hollow. "

Is that umbrella okay? It's an auto-open one, but I can't find any umbrellas that don't have the auto-open nowadays.
dzizka3 years ago
Where can I buy the Safe Mount LED lights?
stealthop3 years ago
your dimmer / variable voltage resistor is actually a volume control potentiometer.
just so people have an easier time locating a part. very cool build i want to make one myself
FalconerAD3 years ago
Also, I saw that some places offered UV LEDs. Can this be done?
FalconerAD3 years ago
Anyway you can do this with LED strips? Have you or anyone else found a way to do the multi colored one?
autojoke633 years ago
how to close the umbrella? . what if rain< will i get shock because it will get wet
Ignas1233 years ago
Can I buy it from you?
gossumx4 years ago
When this is closed, is it a light sabre?
sockmaster (author)  gossumx3 years ago
nmeek3 years ago
It's been a while since this instructable was posted so I hope I get a reply.

What are the cons of using a darker colored umbrella? Obviously, you get less reflection of the LEDs and thus they look more like points of light rather than a flood of it but are there any other reasons?
sockmaster (author)  nmeek3 years ago
The only cons are less reflected light, and less light passing through to the top side of the umbrella. It's simply aesthetic. I chose a light color for the first one to get the biggest/brightest impact, but I've since made a few more in different colors. One of them is a darker purplish blue and lots of people really like it.
jquigs4 years ago
I followed the instructions and made my own umbrella :)

My Specs:
- size 0805 white SMD LEDs (luminous intensity: 150mcd) Got em from Harvateck. Mouser electronics works too. Most places have a minimum order of 1000 LEDs but these dont.
- green stick umbrella from target
- 500 ohm variable resistor (for dimming the lights)
- 9v battery (had to use a 100 ohm resistor to reduce the voltage across LEDs to the prescribed 3.3v)
- adhesive coated velcro to secure the battery.

Notes: I messed up the first time and bought yellow LEDs that weren't bright enough (8mcd) so i had to re-order white LEDs with a luminous intensity of 150mcd. I used size 0805 but it honestly wouldn't make much difference if you went to the next size up, 1206, which would definitely be easier to work with since they are so small. I was initially worried that the LEDs would not stand up to water but i did some tests and soaked a few of them for a couple hours and they light up great.

It was a pretty long and hard project for me considering i didnt know how to solder and had limited electronics experience but it worked out swell!
put up your photos I would love to see them.

oleska4 years ago
Hey!!! thank a lot for your idea!!!

my umbrella is much easier!


sockmaster (author)  oleska4 years ago
That looks cool! Thanks for sharing a photo of it, it's great to see more of these being built.
onemoroni14 years ago
This is a great idea. I could see this marketed with electronic control creating a light show. Also good comments here. I want to light up my bike, but this is simpler.
GitarGr84 years ago
Super awesome! I have a 9' patio umbrella I've been wanting to light up, and this would look awesome. Maybe I'll get really ambitious and attach it to a solar trickle charger. Thanks for sharing!
You might want to mount a bug zapper near that umbrella . Cause all of the lights at night are going to attract moths and mosquitoes . So use at your own risk . Maybe you can get some citronella candles instead. :P
You could use yellow LEDs which reduce insect attraction.
duck-lemon7 years ago
this is the most un-green thing ever! though good i'ble
Certainly not the most un-green thing ever. Definitely not the most green, either though. But then again, it's only using a very small amount of power through very efficient led's. Besides that, who's to say he doesn't recharge his batteries via human, solar, or some other green power source? Hehe, a rain-powered led umbrella would be super green.
  • it's unnecessary and uses electricity that could be used for better things.
that sound =green= to you
it's strange hearing this mentioned from someone who is wasting more electricity by simply writing a useless post, that will trigger more useless posts. Rather than making useless posts describing others faults why don't you suggest a positive solution instead.
You need both positive and negative to get things moving.
It's providing light in the dark. He'll be able to see his way, be spotted by traffic, and be safer because of it. What is a "better" use for a minuscule 3v of electricity when stored in rechargeable batteries, cutting down on hazardous landfill waste? So he's using very little power to do something very useful that almost always requires much more (like 4 D Cells), and that power is stored in as green a battery as we've developed.
Does that sound like =the most un-green thing ever= to you?
if he was so interested in being safe and visible to traffic wear a reflective vest. it uses no electricity and is readily available at most clothes (maybe thrift) stores.
call it art (thats what i think of it as) and quit being confrontational. like everyone else has pointed out, you're using more power on your computer.
How much energy went into producing the non-biodegradable materials in that vest? How long will that live in a landfill? Not to mention that people are going to be constantly asking you when your going to finish filling that pothole in front of my house that has been there for like, six months and that has wrecked at least one pair of my shoes, and eaten a poodle. Stupid pothole. Stupid stupid pothole. From what I can see, all your doing is taking a project that was never advertised as being Green, complaining that its not Green, and offering no solutions to make it green beyond not doing it at all. Criticism is great. Its how we develop new and better ideas. Constructive criticism is even better. Messages are much better received if you can offer a solution in addition to your criticism. This could easily be made green with the addition of some solar cells or a small wind turbine and a string of suppercaps. No batteries.
It was in the green contest and i didn't see why given it doesn't solve anything 'greenly' and about the reflective vest i said THRIFT stores man ergo re-used.

And i never said it was a bad instructable, i actually said it was a good instructable in my first comment
I never implied you said it was a bad Instructable, and I'll agree its not appropriate for the contest it was in. I was just attempting to point out that you never offered a solution to making his idea more environment friendly.
to be honest i posted that comment ages ago and everyone took it the wrong way so i don't really mind much anymore, and btw neither did you.
Agreed. I'm bored now. Lets go ride bikes. :)
K i'll just go get my training wheels =]
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