# Using AC with LEDs (Part 3) - The BIG light

## Step 3: Build time!

So, we can start our build of a simple all-LED + a bridge circuit to run off 110v mains.

You will need:

Lots of white LEDs - naturally! And TEST them all!

AC line cord

Perfboard

1N4003 diode or 200volt bridge rectifier

The first picture is what my circuit looks like when finished. Quick eyes will note that there are only 42 LEDs on board. Because of the need to accomodate the bridge on the board, and because of the relatively stable nature of our mains, we can run our lights a tad over 20mA.

The Bridge has 4 leads: 2 marked (~), a (+) positive and a (-) negative. The (~) ones go to AC Mains.

Start by connecting the Bridge (+) to the longer (+) lead of the first LED, then take the short lead to the long lead of the next LED. Do 1 row, double and triple check before soldering! Work your way down, ALWAYS connecting shorter to longer.

I have additional pictures below showing the various stages of completion. Print them out to help you do the wiring.
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hagen21 year ago
I built this. I used 42 extra bright white leds with a 3.6 forward voltage. I built a 1N4003 diode bridge for rectification. Plugged it in. Worked great. At first. Then it started to smell. Then some of the lights started to flicker. 10 minutes later half of them were no longer lit. I unplugged it and plugged it back in and now it won't come on at all.

Isn't everyone going to have this same experience? Won't this just overheat the leds which are in such close proximity to each other. I wonder if building this in a bar instead of a square would help with heat dissipation?

Anyhow I'm not happy with the results.
elementarywatts5 years ago
If I use a bridge rectifier the dc rms output voltage is lower than the input AC voltage. Would I still use the rule to increase the DC V rms measurement by 1.4 for the purpose of determining the amount of leds per string? If I install a capacitor 100uF 200v on the DC side the voltage goes up. Do I need a capacitor? Would that increase overhead at the line source? Using the same method as you I am making a spotlight with some 400 leds + or - with serial / parallel. If I do this correctly would I expect the life of the leds to be long as they are rated 100,000 hrs.? Thanks 3.5v 20ma 5mm I would not like a lot of overhead only to drive these leds.
qs (author)  elementarywatts5 years ago
Are you saying that by adding a 100uF capacitor the measured voltage goes up? That is probably because you are using a DC voltmeter to measure the rectified AC. Rectified AC is still sine-wave, so a DC voltmeter will not give you an accurate reading.

The addition of the capacitor forces the LEDs to work continuously and, in circuits involving large number of LEDs, heat becomes a problem. In cases where the LEDs are of good quality and operated within the rated current, the biggest factor affecting the life of the LED is heat. Ideally, they should never run over 80oC, but it they are placed close together without ventilation, they could reach over 100oC.

For spotlight use, you may find the 25mA 10mm LEDs, with its tight +/- 6-degree beam-spread more usable.
japanjot5 years ago
in d magic formula 230 * 1.4 / 3.3 , , , , , , 230 is my ac volt, 3.3 is led volt but wot is 1.4 here????? wud b glad if u clear dis to me ...thnx again
qs (author)  japanjot5 years ago
The value reported for AC power is known as the RMS value, which is lower than the peak value. To find the peak value, you have to multiply by sqrt(2), or about 1.4
5 years ago
ohhkkkzzz now i understand,wel u guided me so well, thank u frnd............this means on 230v rms the peak value ud be of 322v................nd one more thing if i connect 49 led's to the 230v ac,and i include a rectifie of max 400v, wt else wud be required more??? a capacitor??? if yes then plz tell of wt value.
japanjot5 years ago
plz help me, m new to this but want to learn alot from you people...... i ant to connect 44 leds in series and want them to work on 230 volts please tell me how can i without burning these leds nd myself 2 :)
qs (author)  japanjot5 years ago
For 230v, the 'magic' number of white LEDs is 230 * 1.4 / 3.3 or 98 LEDs.

This is the number of white LEDs (the same type) that you can connect together in series and operate on 230V-AC without needing resistors or transformers. Just add a suitable bridge rectifier in front.
5 years ago
well thanks alot bro for ur help, but if u don't mind can u also tell me abot bridge rectifier nd its construction nd values.... thank you
qs (author)  japanjot5 years ago
A bridge (full wave) rectifier is simply a package of 4 diodes connected so that regardless of which direction (polarity) an AC voltage is, the + and - always go to separate outputs. Bridge rectifiers have 2 input connections marked (~) and 2 outputs. You have to make sure the specified voltage is higher than the peak voltage and the amperage is greater than what the LEDs draw. You can also make your own bridge by connecting 4 1N4007-type diodes (400V 1A) like in the diagram below.
wkumtrider5 years ago
If I want to run 6 leds off AC, I would need a capacitor to reduce the voltage, correct? What is the best way to calculate the correct type of capacitor? Thanks for your help.
qs (author)  wkumtrider5 years ago
Take a look at the instructions posted here for the correct values.
5 years ago
Thanks qs, but I don't quite understand the formual. It has two variables C and X. I'm not sure how to solve the formula with two variables. I must be missing some data.
qs (author)  wkumtrider5 years ago
X is the resistance (reactance) of capacitor, C.

If we know we need a resistance of 7500-ohms at 50Hz, then the correct capacitor value is:

C= 1/(2 x pi x F x X) = 1 / (2 x 3.1415... x 50 x 7500) = 0.424 uF, with 0.47uF as the nearest standard value.
5 years ago
Ok, thanks so much. Makes sense now.
opliko5 years ago
So if I were to make this for Higher powered leds, say 1 watt, would it work? Considering they use only slightly higher voltage, in what way could I figure out the current? I know it wouldn't work out to say 40 instead of 47 LEDs. Just for example lets say it is a 3.7V 350mA LED.
ferociousllama5 years ago
Can I use the capacitor and resistor from part 3 with the bridge rectifier to make the leds brighter while still running 2-14 leds? I would put the cap and resistor with the leads that connect to ac on the rectifier. Would this work?
qs (author)  ferociousllama5 years ago
If I understand your question, you are asking if you can add the rectifier to the circuit in part 3 and make the LEDs brighter. The answer is no - the rectifier will force the current to go through one set of LEDs, which will be brighter, but since the other set never turns on, the TOTAL light output is actually lower. Remember that the LEDs are diodes in themselves, and by connecting them back-to-back like in section 3, they act like a rectifier bridge for themselves.