LED Lightbulb





Introduction: LED Lightbulb

This was just a lark that had been itching in the back of my head for a while. It's a mains powered LED lightbulb.

Step 1: Supplies

There's not too many things you need for this project.
An incandescent light bulb.
A .47 microfarad 200V capacitor.
1/4 watt 1kilo ohm resistor
a pair of leds
and miscellaneous things.

Step 2: Assembly

You need to start by cleaning out the lightbulb, there are numerous instructables with this step and I will forgo it here.

The circuit consists of two LED's wired in opposition, I ground down the LED's just short of the die and glued them together to make a single double LED. Twist the legs of the LED's together, on one side solder the capacitor, the other the resistor. Simple.

Step 3: Test

Here I'm holding the circuit with a clothespin and sticking it into an outlet, this is of course, the recommended test procedure. ;-)

Step 4: The Bulb

Stick the circuit into the bulb and use some hot glue to hold it in place, be sure to have some cold water, you will burn you fingers. Try to center the LED in the bulb. Once you have the circuit in place, bend one of the leads over the base and secure it with aluminum tape. The second lead is twisted around a brass screw inserted into the hot glue. Check for shorts and you should be good to go.

Step 5: The How What and Why

First to address an oversight, you need a non polarized capacitor for this project, muy importante.

Now, how does this work? We all know that to run an LED off a higher than rated voltage source we muct limit the current with a resistor. Indeed in this case we could limit the current with a resistor of value approx. 6.8K ohms, however that resistor would need to dissipate several watts!!! Not a good thing.

Since we are using an AC source we can take advantage of a property of a capacitor subjected to AC called Reactance. We can equate reactance to resistance. Calculating the reactance is a simple formula

R=1/(2*Pi*Freq*C) Solving this for C will give us the size capacitor we need to limit the current to the LED.

So why do we have a resistor at all? When the power is switched on there is an in rush of current and the 1K ohm resistor is there to limit that in rush current.

Finally, Why two LED's? Well an LED is a diode and since we are dealing with AC here we need to wire two led's in opposition so that the waveform can complete it's cycle. Essentially each LED is flickering at 60HZ but in opposite phase.



  • Remote Control Contest 2017

    Remote Control Contest 2017
  • Arduino Contest 2017

    Arduino Contest 2017
  • LED Contest 2017

    LED Contest 2017

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Questions & Answers


You DO NOT have to use a .47 uF mylar capacitor nor do you have to use a 1k ohm resistor, I have built 5 of these lights using a capacitor value ranging from .1uF to .68 uF all at 250 volts or more, I also have used a .uF capacitor with a 2.2k resistor and they all work great. You can use almost any value cap and resistor combination as long as the caps are at least 250 volts.You MUST use a MYLAR type of cap though

If I live in the US, should the capacitor be 110v? Standard wall outlets are 110v here.

I have a question... since i am young, i order from a VERY cheap website... they are the same quality items & i would like for you to help me...
i order from www.TaydaElectronics.com this website is EXTREMELY cheap, but sometimes it is hard to find what you are looking for. Can u help me find the 47 microfarad 200V Capacitor & the 1/4 watt 1kilo ohm Resistor... i dont want to order something, have it turn out its not the right type[s] and have it burn or shock me... thanks

by the way be careful cleaning out the bulb.....when breaking the glass base inside there is an inert gas in there so be sure your carefully and i suggest doing the initial breakage outside

How much current do you think this thing draws, roughly?


I pulled out a capcitor from one of those cheap chinese flashlights that charge from ac
It looks a bit like this

Do you think i should give it a try?

I live ina 230v area

Whoa! If you're not sure you shouldn't mess with high voltage! That stuff WILL hurt you. Go through the calculations and read up on the capacitor and safety. Then try it but NEVER mess with mains voltage if you feel uncertain about anything.

i saw your post just after i tried it lol!

Anyway, the resistor burn out but the leds are fine.

Protip - DO NOT TOUCH THE CAP! Nasty suprise!