How to Calculate Resistor for LED |
LEDs give off light as an electrical current moves through them. The brightness of the LED is determined by the voltage reaching the LED. Too much voltage and the LED will burn brightly but cease working quickly. Too little voltage and the LED will produce only a dim light. To control the amount of power reaching the LED and, therefore, the brightness and lifespan of the LED, a resistor is wired in series to dissipate some of the voltage. Determining the proper resistor to use in your circuit is an important first step in installing an LED.
Instructions 1 Determine the supply voltage of the circuit you will be installing the LED into. For example, a circuit powered by a 9-volt battery would have a 9-volt supply voltage. However, if the LED is to be placed at a point in the circuit not directly after the power supply, the voltage may be altered by other components. Use a multimeter to test for the voltage at the point in the circuit at which you wish to install the LED.
2 Determine the voltage drop across your LED. For most colors, this is typically 2 volts, though blue and white LEDs measure closer to 4 volts. The exact voltage drop will be displayed on your LED's packaging.
3.Identify the LED current. This will be given on the packaging, and is typically around 30 mA.
4 Subtract the LED voltage drop from the supply voltage.
5 Divide the result in Step 4 by the LED current.
6 Choose a resistor rated at a resistance equal to or greater than the result of Step 5. The resistor is wired in series with the LED.
Tips & Warnings
When several LEDs are wired in series, add all of their voltage drops together before subtracting from the power-supply voltage. Failing to use a properly rated resistor will result in your LED burning out quickly, if not instantly.
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