Step 7: Wiring up multiple LEDs in series

Now that I knew how to wire one LED with various combinations of LED voltages and power supplies, it was time to explore how to light up multiple LEDs. When it comes to wiring more than one LED to a power supply there are two options. The first option is to wire them in series and the second is to wire them in parallel.

To see an in depth explanation about the difference between series and parallel check out this page. I'm going to cover wiring LEDs in series first.

LEDs wired in series are connected end to end (the negative electrode of the first LED connects to the positive electrode of the second LED and the negative electrode of the second LED connects to the positive electrode of the third LED and so on and so on...). The main advantage of wiring things in series is that it distributes the total voltage of the power source between all of the LEDs. What that means is that if I had a 12V car battery, I could power 4, 3V LEDs (attaching a resistor to each of them). Hypothetically this could also work to power 12, 1V LEDs; 6, 2V LEDs; or even 1 12V LED if such a thing existed.

Ok, let's try wiring 2, 2.6V LEDs in series to the 9V power supply and run through the math.

R = (9V - 5.2V) / .02A
R = 190 Ohms
Next higher resistance value - 200 Ohms

Now the variety package of resistors didn't come with a 190 or 200 Ohm resistor, but it did come with other resistors which I could use to make a 200 Ohm resistor. Just like LEDs, resistors can be wired together in either series or parallel (see next step for an explanation on wiring things together in parallel).

When same value resistors are wired together in series you add their resistance. When same value resistors are wired together in parallel you divide the value of the resistor by the number of resistors wired together.

So, in the most simplified sense, two 100 Ohm resistors wired together in series will equal 1 200 Ohm resistor (100 + 100 = 200). Two 100 Ohm resistors wired together in parallel will equal one 50 Ohm resistor (100 / 2 = 50).

Unfortunately, I learned this key point after I wired my resistors together for the experiment. I had originally wanted to wire two 100 Ohm resistors together to equal the 200 Ohms of resistance I needed to protect my LEDs. Instead of wiring them in series, as it should have been, I wired my resistors in parallel (did I mention I am beginner with resistors?) So my resistors were only providing 50 Ohms of resistance - which apparently worked out OK on my LEDs in the short duration of the experiment. Having too much power getting to the LEDs would probably burn them out in the long term. (Thanks beanwaur and shark500 for pointing this out.)

I took my resistors and placed them in front of the positive lead of the first LED that was wired in series and hooked them up to the battery and once again, there was LED light!

With three different combinations of LEDs and battery power supplies and no puffs of plastic smoke yet things were looking good - aside from my little confusion between wiring resistors in series and in parallel.
<p>What would cause my LED to take a while to reach full brightness?</p>
<p>You would need a microcontroller for that, and some knowledge of coding, and a adapting resistor.</p>
<p>Using one resistor to for two LEDs in parallel you would double the current in the calculation. (9-1.7/.04=182.5 ohm.) Would it be correct if you use one resistor for each LED in parallel to divide only by 20ma (9-1.7/.02=365 ohm). </p>
<p>I want to create something that uses an LED and is wired into a power cable that you plug into the wall. Can anyone point me to toward instructions on that process to I can ensure I am not missing anything or making any mistakes? Thanks. </p>
<p>Yes buy a 2 or 3 metre led strip 60 leds per metre and a strip of wood same length. get a 12V converting device and connect to strip. stick strip to wood. place in corner of room from bottom to top then you do not have to worry about fixings. </p>
<p>O the 12 V converter usually comes with the strip but it does pay off looking for them seperate as you can really save a couple of dollars on it that way. Do not buy the strip only if you have not found the converter yet. Do not use longer strips or they will fail after a while. Strips can be cut to length where it has the little scissors on the strip. connect plus to plus and minus to minus on the strip.</p>
<p>I need to make lamp battery 3,7V it should be commanded by a momentary switch </p><p>1click 1 led on, 2nd click 2 led on, 3rd click off.<br>Anyone can help me?</p>
<p>You're probably better off going to an electrical shop (a decent one) and talking to a member of staff </p>
Youre gonna have to use a microcontroller for that, an arduino should do
<p>Hello, I am looking for directions on how to hook multiple LEDs up to one 9v battery without a breadboard. Can anyone give me a hand?? I am an 8th grade student and this is for my science fair project. Thank you ahead of time</p><p>Emmaruth</p>
<p>you could just wrap the wires around the negative and positive electrodes without soldering to test them, then you can see if it works before you permanently connect them together :)</p><p>Sorry if you haven't gotten this reply in time lol ^_^</p>
<p>Which LED's are you using?</p><p>What voltage does each one need?</p>
<p>Hello i need to connect </p><p>two leds with two resistors, two push on/off switches, </p><p>where i can turn on one led while the other is off and turn on both leds at the same time.</p><p>what battery should i use? isnt ok for two 1.5volts battery??</p><p>thanks in advance</p>
<p>&quot;Once I knew that I needed a resistor of 140 ohms to get the correct amount of voltage to the LED&quot;</p><p>I think you mean to say that the resistor ensures that the <strong>CURRENT</strong> flowing through the circuit does not exceed LED's <strong>CURRENT</strong> rating of 20 mA. In your previous step...if you had an LED rated at 1.5 volts and you used a 1.5 volt battery WITHOUT a resistor, your applied voltage would be perfect but you would burn out the LED since the current flowing through it would be extremely large.</p>
<p>I understood your post and like to ask you something:</p><p>If ideally we had a 1.7v input, a 1.7v led that consumes 20ma, which resistor you would need to securely feed the led?</p>
<p>So you need to ensure that only 20mA flows through your LED correct? What size of resistor would permit only 20mA to flow when a voltage of 1.7V is connected across its leads? R = V/I, so R = 1.7 V/ 20 mA = 85 Ohm.</p><p>So 85 Ohms is the resistor you need, choose the closest available resistor higher or equal to this value.</p>
<p>I understood your post and like to ask you something:</p><p>If ideally we had a 1.7v input, a 1.7v led that consumes 20ma, which resistor you would need to securely feed the led?</p>
<p>I thought that the LED itself can control the current passed through it when the applied voltage doesn't exceed its forward voltage? My teacher told me resistor only needed when the applied voltage exceed the forward voltage of the LED.</p>
<p>Hi... My sons Halloween costume has led lights on the chest that don't work. The board seems to be chipped. It has 8 blinking blue led lights powered by three 1.5v lr44 batteries. What can i use to supply power to the led lights. I attached a picture of the circuit board. Also, I attached a picture of the costume, the chest part is the one that's not lighting up. Thank you.</p><div><br><br></div>
<p>The black bit on the circuit board is a chip-on-board ic. It probably controlled the blinking of the leds. I am guessing it is probably busted from the board breaking. What I would do is remove the circuit board and replace it with a resistor. The leds will not blink anymore but they will light up.</p>
<p>If you want it blinking you could also replace that led with a blinking led. But it will blink independently of the other leds</p>
<p>Right, complete novice, so be gentle lol</p><p>Conflicting stories? I've read you don't need resistors, then you do, even a 5.1 Zenner diode was mentioned, don't run em in series etc. etc. </p><p>I have 2 flashing Red LEDs &amp; I want to run em off a 9v battery.......</p><p>Do you run em in series or parallel?</p><p>Do I need a single resistor or a resistor for each of the LEDs, if so, what resistors?</p><p>Regards</p><p>Tony</p>
<p>How can I connect more than 1 LED to a single switch with 3 toggles on the bottom? I know how to connect 1 LED, but I need to connect multiple ones!</p>
<p>Hi am a beginner with electronics and im wanting to make a series circuit using 2 red LEDs ( 5mm 1.85 v) and 1 white LED (5mm 3.3v). i have 2 types of resistor 1 180R and 1 220R. My power supply is a 9V battery. </p><p>My question is which resistor goes with which led?</p>
<p>R = (V1 - V2) / I</p><p>R=(9-( (2x1.85) + 3.3)/0.02 = 100 ohm</p><p>you need 100 or a bit higher. I am a bit rusty however.</p><p>see step 6 in this tutorial.</p>
<p>Totally the level I'm at. Thanks for the tutorial</p>
<p>Well...keep moving on..</p>
<p>Can I use 5mm LED with 1V 1A load?</p>
<p>It will only work if your led's forward voltage is around 1v. Most leds are not. see the attached chart for different color led forward voltages.</p><p></p><p> You want to provide the voltage where the led color you are using passes the 20mA line (or whatever forward current is specified in the datasheet) </p>
<p>You can use whatever size, voltage rating, and current rating you desire. All you need to remember is to make resistor changes according to voltage supplied, voltage required, and current required.</p>
<p>In your calculation, where did you get .02A?</p><p>I plan on making some circuits with LED's and 12v 1000ma and 2000ma power supplies.</p>
<p>Most leds run at optimally at 20 milliamps (.02A). This is called the forward current on the led datasheet if you have it.</p>
<p>Great beginners guide!</p>
I have 8mm white leds to use in different projects but I don't know what resistors to use for the same? plz help me out?
I have a 60 volts led driver and 4 smd 12 volts 10 watts led.plz would u tell me need any register....<br>
<p>Thanks for this tutorial :)</p>
<p>The only other suggestion I might make is to use a voltage regulator (triple lead IC like device) that will keep your voltage relatively constant, and avoid resistor mis-identification problems. <br><br>You can eliminate the resistor and go forward safely. They come in values in the range you need for this. They have a range of input voltages, and will put out a steady voltage (some can be had that are variable for more money). I stick with fixed values.</p>
<p>Any regulator IC (fixed or variable) can be used as a variable voltage regulator by varying the voltage at the reference pin with a potentiometer. Use a parallel resistor to limit maximum excursion. The resistor values will (similar to the 'ible) vary according to voltage/current requirements for the particular IC in question. If you acquire the spec sheet for the IC you intend to use, there will almost always be a variable voltage output circuit somewhere on the page.</p>
<p>?? If I have a 3 terminal fixed voltage regulator, how do I make that adjustable? There is no Vref pin. </p>
<p>The 'ground' pin is used for Vref. The regulated output voltage will be normal regulated output voltage + Vref voltage. So, for example, if you have an LM??05 and your 'ground pin' floats at 3V, then your true regulated output voltage will be 5V + 3V = 8V.</p>
<p>I'm trying to figure out why different color LEDs won't light up when i add two together onto one battery&hellip;?? i'm betting it has something to do with the amount of power needed, but would like to know if that is correct.</p>
Using this instructable I made an led that will run off an 18v battery.<br>http://m.instructables.com/id/Kayak-LED-light/
Very nice.....Thank you very much.
<p>So nice... Needs more such help....</p>
<p>Thank you very much for doing this tutorial especially in plain english. I have 2 LED lights that I need to fix, I have broken it down to the actual switch. So I found the exact same switches at Radio Shack. Now I need to get up the nerve to remove the existing switches and replace with the new ones. The wires are so tiny I find it hard to strip them with out cutting into some wires. Do you have an easier way to do this.</p><p>I would really like to keep these solar lights going for the a long time. I like to see them all lit up when I drive up the road.</p><p>Again thank you for this tutorial is was very good. I believe I have to join Pro to be able to download it to my computer so I can reference back to it when I need to.</p><p>Glenda</p>
Very informative , I liked iy.
<p>The link below calculates LED resistor values for series or parallel arrays of any amount, color, and desired voltage. </p><p><a href="http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz" rel="nofollow">http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz</a></p>
<p>I was just about to post this link. I've been using it for years, such a great source.</p>

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