Convert Lamp From Kerosene to Flaming LEDs

Introduction: Convert Lamp From Kerosene to Flaming LEDs

About: Be limited only by your imagination.

Several years back I made the Martha Stewart Witch and Cats Halloween yard figures. You can download the pattern and instructions here Martha Stewart Patterns and see the Instructable I wrote about it here Instructable Link to Witch Project

This Halloween I decided to convert the oil lamp to LEDs that mimic flame. I did this primarily because it was more convenient than refilling the kerosene lantern daily. The LEDs were from Amazon and are quite inexpensive. LEDs from Amazon . They work out to about ten cents per unit. They draw very little power and the four AA batteries powering the unit should be enough to energize them the entire month of October. Still, I had a switch in my spare parts box and it fit perfectly into the kerosene filling hole so I put it in and I can turn the device on and off whenever I want to.

Video of the Completed Project

Step 1: Parts and Tools

  • Tools
    • Dremel with cutting disk and sanding disk
    • Eye protection
    • Soldering Gun
    • Heat Gun to shrink tubing
    • Bandsaw to cut plexiglass
    • Compass to mark a circle
    • Drill with 1/16 bit to make pilot holes for the plexiglass and countersink bit.
    • Driver for screws
    • Wire strippers and cutters

Step 2: Preparing the Lantern

  1. Remove and dispose of any kerosene properly
  2. Thoroughly dry the old kerosene chamber
  3. Put on eye protection
  4. Using the dremel with the cutting disk cut the bottom of the lamp leaving about 1/8 inch for later attachment of the plexiglass. Be careful because the edges will be sharp at this point. Remove the cut out piece and recycle it.
  5. Using the sanding disk, smooth the sharp edges.
  6. Remove the wick and using a driver clean out any old material so that the LED's can easily pass through.
  7. Measure the opening of the lantern and using a compass, scribe a circle that diameter minus 1/64 inch.
  8. Using the bandsaw, cut the circle out.
  9. Using the 1/64 inch bit drill four pilot holes thru the plexiglass. Do this one at a time and put the screw in each time so that the plexiglass doesn't shift.
  10. Remove the plexiglass and clean out any plexiglass or metal drilling residue.

Step 3: Wiring Up the LEDs

  1. Electricity flows from the negative pole to the positive pole of a battery. That is from the bottom to the top pointy end. So you want the electricity to go to the resister on the negative lead of the LED.
  2. Crimp (bend and squeeze) the negative leads of the LED's and attach a resistor to each. Solder them. Put a piece of shrink tubing over this and use a heat gun to shrink it.
  3. Crimp and solder positive leads and shrink tube it.
  4. Feed the LEDs thru the old wick port. Let them stand about 1/2 inch up so that you can see them when you assemble the unit.
  5. Insert and fasten the switch into the kerosene port. You might need a washer.
  6. Wire the two battery holders in series (one negative lead gets soldered to a positive lead). You can of course use a 4 battery holder. In fact you can use just two batteries and skip the resister altogether or you can get away with using a button cell battery and just tape the led to the leads. So many choices!
  7. Attach the negative (usually black) lead to the switch).
  8. Attach the other end of the switch to the negative LED lead (the one with the resistors).
  9. Attach the positive leads together and put a wire nut on it.
  10. Insert the batteries and check function.
  11. Refasten the plexiglass bottom.

That's it! I hope that you enjoy this Instructable and I would be delighted to hear your comments, answer your questions and see your versions!

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6 Discussions


1 year ago

I love it - I've been thinking about making a few of these for a long time now for Halloween props.
The only thing I would do is either frost the glass with a simple spray on frosting to help diffuse the light and hide the LEDs, or make a simple hot glue plastic flame to house the LEDs in.


Reply 1 year ago

Those are both great ideas. I have found though that even without doing that if I'm standing about 5 feet away it looks like a real flame. I'd love to see a video of either the frosted glass or the hot glue flame effect!


Question 1 year ago on Step 3

Can this be connected to a low voltage landscape lighting system instead of batteries? I don't know much about resistors, but are the ones used here sufficient with a low voltage system?


Answer 1 year ago

If you use LEDs, you most likely don't need to worry too much about the run time, unless you want to make this light a permanent installation. I've used one 18650 battery and three LEDs and according to my calculation, it can work for about 4 days non stop.

But if you do decide to use external power and it's 12 volts, you have several options:

1. Since you don't need to worry about power consumption, just take one LED, connect a resistor to it and feed 12 volts to this assembly. If you need a brighter lantern, do the same with one or a few more LEDs. Like this -

2. Use a voltage regulator - connect several LEDs in parallel (all short legs together and all long legs together), then put a resistor in series. You might want to take smaller resistor - about 100 Ohm. As a bonus, you'll be able to adjust brightness of LEDs. Just don't exceed the rated current - it's about 20mA for such LEDs.

Note, if you use different kind of LEDs, check the rated voltage and current. Voltage normally ranges from 1.7 for red diodes to 2.8 for blue and white, so do check the specs.


Reply 1 year ago

Great! Thanks for the information.


1 year ago

Most low voltage systems are 12V. For that you would need to use a 9-12 V battery without a resistor. Using 8 AA batteries would last a long time but a single 9V would probably run out of juice kind of quickly. You could easily use a flashlight bulb. They run on 3V and that would solve the problem. The beauty of LED's is they are small, they use very little energy, and in the case of the ones I use, they are actually programmed to look like a candle flame. If you buy the ones I got from Amazon, you don't need any resistor if you use two batteries. They actually come with resistors if you want to use a power source that is 6-12 V. You can figure out which end goes to which on the battery by trial and error. It won't hurt the LED. Just make sure to put the resistor, if you use it, on the wire going to the flat side of the battery. If you have any questions, just ask.