DIY Penny Battery




So, here is a simple way to make a low powered battery for under a dollar.

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Step 1: Getting the Stuff Ready

You need:

5 american* pennies w/ dates between 1945ish - 1980. I'm not sure if "wheat pennies" work.

Tin foil


A cup of vinegar - Salt water works too, just not nearly as well.

* - According to one user, it can be made with the European 10¢ coin.

Step 2: Prep

Start by cutting the cardboard into 5 circles smaller than a penny, but not too small

Then, put the circles in the cup of vinegar

Cut the tin foil into circles of the same size

Step 3: Assembly

Put one tin foil circle down, then one cardboard circle. Next, put a penny on top of them.

Repeat this step until you have a pile of them. The cardboard cannot touch! Keep everything uniform. once done, put a lead of an led on one end, and the other on the other end. If it doesn't turn on, switch which end the leads go on. If you still don't see any light, make sure that no cardboard is sticking out/touching.

Step 4: Done!

Congratz! If you made this, please click made this at the top of the page, and post a picture of it!

Step 5: Troubleshooting

If a piece of cardboard touches another piece of cardboard, it won't work.

If it stops working:

Re-soak it in vinegar for 1-2 minutes. Don't worry, if the LED is already on, it won't make it break

Let it drip after being re-soaked. It may take up to 30 seconds of dripping to get all the water off. Excess water shorts it in a non-dangerous way.

Re-adjust the way the LED sits on it, it can be finicky.

Also, some people say this has stayed on for 16 days for them. I got it to stay on for 10-12 hours. Thestalkinghead claims to have gotten it to go for 43 hours(Almost 2 days!). Post in the comments how long it runs for you(time between soaking it and the led not being on).

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17 Discussions


8 weeks ago

My son and I tried this project with tin foil. We have a roll of industrial tin foil and don't know what to do with it. It didn't work. Interesting. I think the author means "aluminum foil" since commenters used this instead. When we tried it with aluminum foil, we got about 1.9 V. Really cool!


2 years ago

2p coins have a similar composition to European 10 cent coins so I think they will work as a British version

1 reply

3 years ago

Hi, I tried making one of these from european 5 cts coins, aluminum foil and vinegar. My multimeter tells me that my voltage is at 2.3 V which should be enough to light up the led I'm aiming for, but its not working. Any clues to what might be wrong?

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

Here are some possible fixes:
- try a european 10cent coin
- use more "cells"
- switch for a low power led
- check the polarity


4 years ago on Introduction


The reason the LED burned only 12h is probably because you didn't put tape around it. If you put tape around it, the vinegar will evaporates les and the "battery" will last a lot longer.

4 replies

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

I remember that I saw another video a while ago and that person didn't used tin but zink. Maybe that would make the difference. Here's the link:


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Could make a difference. If you use zinc, you have to have pennies from AFTER the specified times, though. That is the video I originally watched, but I found out this way works just as well, and uses more common items.


4 years ago on Introduction

I don't know why but it doesn't works with indian currency. I would like you to suggest solution or reason for experiment.

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

It must be because of the material Indian currency is made of. Try going to a bank near you to obtain some US currency that matches the criteria specified in the instructions. Tell me your findings - I will add them to the post!

bobdabiulderJeph Diel

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Thanks! How much voltage did you get from it? I don't have a multimeter, so I tested it w/ a battery tester, and set it to 1.25v battery. It said it failed, but each "cell" supposedly give 0.6v of power, so with five cells that should be upwards of 2v...

Jeph Dielbobdabiulder

Reply 4 years ago

I didn't actually make one yet, but if I do i will definitely check it and post here if I do.