This instructable is a super simple, easy and fun way to make an LED Fairy-Light string using MR16 LED downlights.

It's also my first instructable!, finally after years of various DIY and tinkering fun. ^_^

So, getting down to business:, the first question really is.... why?

What is this even for?

 * This is a cheap, quick and easy way to put together a useable 12v string of lights, which can be utilised wherever there is a 12v power source!

* For those of us who might have small scale solar and wind power, while still moving around and renting homes, this can be a quick and efficient way to light:
spaces / rooms / studio's / cubby's / garages / porches / etc.., using our stored electricity, but without making any alterations to an already established house + it's electrical wiring.

* For any outdoors fun, (i.e. burning man, confest, rainbow family gathering, festivals, etc..) this can be a simple way to light an entire camp off just a small scale solar/wind/hydro temporary set up!

But why build it like this?

* This project can be built in 1 hour, with all resources except for the MR16 bulbs, available from a local hardware shop/electrical store.

* The total cost for this project was:   $150,  
   which includes: 
    - 10 Warm-white LED MR16 (3-watt) downlights       ($11 each)
    -  5  Amber LED MR16 (1-watt) downlights                 ($5 each - clearance special!)
    - 10 mtrs of medium thickness core speaker cable       ($1.50 p/metre)

* This setup can also be extended easily at any time once completed by simply adding more cable length. However, care must be taken to account for the total amp load on the cable, and not exceeding the maximum cable amp limits.

i.e. 10 white LED MR16's @ 3 watts each = 30 watt draw ( 2.5Amp @ 12v ),
but 20 white LED MR16's @ 3 watts each = 60 watt draw ( 5Amp @ 12v )

* The final and major benefit for this kind of setup, is the ability to add + remove lights in 2 seconds whenever needed.

e.g., if towards the end of a long night the stored solar power is starting to run out, but all you really need is to have 2 lights on for reading, instead of the 10 or 20 originally on for dinner/cooking, then you can simply walk along and, "ping", pull out the bulbs one by one, to create the perfectly suited lighting environment for the moment.

Ok then, let's get started!

If you're interested, and it's sounding like a good idea, then let's move onto the 1st step in building it:   --->

Step 1: Step 1 - Sourcing the Parts

Step 1   -   Sourcing the Parts

Once we've gathered all the various parts for this project together in the same place, it takes only 1 hour to put together a fully working LED MR16 Fairy-light string, and hook it straight up in your car, home, studio, camp, etc..

This project can be built with various numbers of bulbs / types / colours / etc.., so to make things simple, this instructable will demonstrate how to make a 10metre long string of 15 MR16 based LED lights, 10 warm-white and 5 amber coloured. 

This will give us a 10 metre cable of warm bright light, with a total power draw of 
35 watts p/hour  ( this works out to be a draw of 2.9 Amps p/hour @ 12v )

The tools required are:

  -   A pair of pliers (for cutting cable and stripping the ends back for the wires)
  -   Small flat-head screwdriver (for tightening / loosening electrical terminals )
  -   A 30cm ruler (for measuring the cable lengths when cutting)
  -   Voltmeter (optional. this simply helps for checking continuity and battery voltage)
  -   Some silicon gap sealant / epoxy resin (to weatherproof / protect the wires + connectors)

The parts required are:

  -   10x Warm-white MR16 LED downlights  
               ( I sourced mine from:  http://www.ledshoponline.com in Brisbane / Australia $11 each)
  -   5x Amber coloured MR16 LED downlights  
               ( again, sourced on clearance special from ledshoponline.com $5 each )
  -   15x MR16 sockets  
               (these can be purchased from most electrical stores, again I purchased mine
                from ledshoponline $2.50 each (i've seen them cheaper, $0.50c each)
  -    10 meters medium sized 2-core speaker cable
              (I sourced mine from the local Dicksmith's electronics, @ $1.50 p/m, with a load rating of up to 15 amps)
  -    A small sized electrical plastic junction $0.25c each
             (sourced from dicksmiths, to screw the cable ends into, and attach different plugs onto the other end,
              i.e. 12v car cigarette lighter plug, aligator clips, etc..)
  -    2x Small cable terminating plastic caps
              (any hobbiest / electrical store sells them in packs, cables go in the one end,
               and a screw locks them in place, safe from shorting on other wires.)
  -    2x Small aligator clips
             (had them lying around from an old project, but the can be found at electrical stores)

Once we've gathered all the parts needed, and have our tools ready, lets move onto Step 2   --->


About This Instructable




More by Sylphhawkins:How to Make an LED Fairy-Light String using MR16's 
Add instructable to: