Picture of How to Make Batteries From Spare Change

Step 1: See The Video!

What's a penny worth these days?  Not much, but could there be some free energy hidden inside your spare pennies? You'd be surprised! Watch the video to learn how you can put together stacks of pennies to form makeshift batteries that can drive small-current devices like LEDs and calculators.
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I'm from the Philippines and I would like to try this out as our Investigatory Project in Science, but so far I haven't made it work yet. Any advice? I use our copper coins, some cardboard and washers.. I'll give you full credit for the idea!

Maybe you should look up basic physics to fully understand what's this is about. But in basic you need copper and zinc, your stack probably don't work because your washers don't have zinc on them.
MiloM35 months ago

is there other stuff u can do withthe batteries like charhe a phone

MiloM35 months ago

is there other stuff u can do withthe batteries like charhe a phone

MeghanaA18 months ago

Hi King of Random. I loved the tutorial. Just a few questions, plz reply fast, as I need for my Science Fair.

1 We don't have pure copper coins here in India, so would it work if we keep cupro-nickel coins?

2 Suggest any alternatives that we can use other than a calc.

3 If we can't use cupro-nickel coins then can we use, copper wires?

Please reply fast. Thankyou

enojo.jon2 years ago
I would have loved to do this, its just too bad they have gotten rid of the penny in Canada...
The King of Random (author)  enojo.jon2 years ago
Yeah bummer. do you have anything else that's copper? It will work the same. Maybe some copper wire?


Ive done every step that was asked in the video and it still does not work. Please help. I have a 12VDC red led with 20mA if that is needed to answer my question. Help please!

dudes1 year ago
What kind of led is that? My LEDs won't light up brightly at all. Help.
theqwertman2 years ago
At 20mA (estimate green LED usage), that means your battery has over 7 Amp-hours! That could charge up a smartphone several times.
Actually I think he said 20 microamps or .02 MA. So more like .07 Amp-hours. So charging a smartphone... Maybe not.
The King of Random (author)  theqwertman2 years ago
Really? It's hard to believe. I'll have to give it a try sometime. :)
man u r so cool I love your you tube page
Fixitmyway1 year ago
Just a thought here, but if you were to drill some small holes in the pennies. Would that possibly increase your voltage or amps given the extra surface area in the zinc to react? Just a thought... Love your projects!
pokemech1 year ago
This would be a neat party trick.

you should be able to find pennies and cardboard almost anywhere, the LED might be the problem...
tealk2 years ago
i just made this battery. i used washer (i think they are zinc) used 75% copper 25% zinc coin ( its Serbian 1 rsd coin same as 2 cents in america )
it show from 4 coins,4 washers, 4 cardboard pieces, i got 3,9 V
i will make throwie with small red LED and i will follow how long can it last
tealk tealk2 years ago
because coins are copper my improvised battery last only 4-5 hours,.... tommorow i will try with only washers. and one with only coins
great instructable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
theargha2 years ago
Is the led still lighted?
Bill WW2 years ago
Great and educational project - saw the YouTube version. I am always happy to see that kids get involved with learning about science (comment below).

Sheet copper is available commercially, so you don't have to use pennies. My friend is a sheet metal worker, he gave me scraps of .025" pure copper sheet.
wolfgang642 years ago
I did this with my eleven year old daughter last sunday and let her take it into school on Monday, after one freaked out phone call from the principals office and a lot little explanation (we live very close to Newtown CT) it was a smash hit her science class. Thank you. The only Problem is the science teacher wants to know what other tricks I have up my sleeve. P.S. I did give you full credit.
The King of Random (author)  wolfgang642 years ago
That's an awesome story! I love it, and thanks for the credit :D

Congratulations on your success with it!!
looks like you know your chemistry
I can do a few things but am always interested in learning more.
Hmff2 years ago
how many cells would you need to power a convenrtiona light bulb?
The King of Random (author)  Hmff2 years ago
You mean like a 100 watt lightbulb? Way too many to be practical in the least.
indigo4012 years ago
anything containing zinc will work which happens to be the main active ingredient in deodorant, So the story goes,
One day after updating my battery banks I put some deodorant on & by chance looked at the label seeing it contained zinc so I gave it a shot & it worked since then I've found hundreds of combinations.
The King of Random (author)  indigo4012 years ago
Very awesome! Your instructable deserves more views!
indigo4012 years ago

I made my first instructable based on the deodorant penny battery I made
The King of Random (author)  indigo4012 years ago
You are awesome :) Where did you get the idea for using deodorant? That is such a great idea!
indigo4012 years ago
it is rechargeable i tried with a 4.5 solar cell and upgraded the amount of pennies and deodorant to match the 4.5v of the cell to avoid overcharging either a potentiometer or battery charge controller or even a resistor would work. I have been experimenting with different deodorants, zinc based ointments, among other things as well
evingoz was
The King of Random (author)  indigo4012 years ago
I love where you're going with this! Where did you get the idea?

I feel like I have a million things going on right now, but I want to try this sometime for myself. I know you went over the basics, but what would you say are the basic step by step? I'm not familiar with vinegar paper.
indigo4012 years ago
This works for sure, if you want to add the cool factor use speed stick deodorant, pennies, vinegar paper, and tin foil. it takes about 10 pennies per led and works for 3 months running on the 1st

(i believe any deodorant with zinc anything will work. The solid white kind works best in a clump on a penny. Nickels work too, 6 per volt
The King of Random (author)  indigo4012 years ago
Interesting idea! With the suspended zinc particles, do you suppose the battery could be re-chargable?
TaffGoch2 years ago
I'm assuming that the pennies must be copper pennies, which are no longer minted.

If a penny has a date before 1982, it is made of 95% copper. If the date is 1983 or later, it is made of 97.5% zinc and plated with a thin copper coating.

Is the copper-coated penny sufficient, or must the penny be pre-1983 copper?
The King of Random (author)  TaffGoch2 years ago
I think any penny will work. These were of the 2.5% copper variety (copper plated only).
Nickson Yap2 years ago
This could make a very nice science project for high-school-ers :)
The King of Random (author)  Nickson Yap2 years ago
I agree! :D
theqwertman2 years ago
At 20mA (estimate green LED usage), that means your battery has over 7 Amp-hours! That could charge up a smartphone several times.
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