Flickering LEDs

by Jeff Reynolds

Many folks want to have a flickering LED effect for arc welders in shops or fires. There are several units available out there from $8-$25, but here is one little idea that can be had for a couple of bucks--LED candles. At most craft stores you can find little votive LED candles that use a 3V waffer cell to simulate a small candle flame for tables where you dont want an open flame. Inside these plastic candles are a small PC board, battery holder and yellow LED. Craft stores like AC Moore and Michaels sell these for about $1.50 each and you can also find them 2 for $1 at dollar stores.

These little units give you a simple way to make your own flickering light. if you want a different color light, then just replace it with a different wavelenght LED of your choice (ie blue white for an arc welder). These units will run for a couple of days on the supplied 3V waffer cell and you could replace it with a large cell (ie 2 AA alkalines) for longer use or run it from a 12V feed with an resistor to drop the voltage.

These could be mixed and matched with the dollar store one being given a red LED to represent the embers that flicker little and then the Craft store version being yellow to be the flames. Silicone seal works for creating the fire itself. small pieces of clear plastic could be embedded in it that would deliver the red LED to the base for the embers and the yellow up higher to the flame.

The dollar store light could also be used with a white led in building lighting to have one room with a flickering flouresent light.

Just a cheap idea to have some fun with.

There are some differences between the craft store and dollar store units summarized bleow:

Dollar Store
Craft Store
Price 2 for $1   $1.50 ea
Disassembly Comes apart easily with a single screw   you need to cut the housing apart (dremel with cut off blade works well)
LED Color Yellow/Orange   Yellow/Orange
LED Size 5mm   3mm
Flicker rate Almost always on and just dimming a bit.   nice on and off flicker (see video)

Videos (Dollar Store version on the left and Craft Store version on the right in each)

  Compelet unit running
  Dissassembled unit running

Photos (click on a photo to enlarge it)

Dollar Store
Craft Store


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