Light emitting diodes, or LEDs, are low-voltage lights that use very little energy, all of which goes into illuminating the light instead of producing heat, such as regular light bulbs. They can last for years and are often used for decorative purposes on a patio, or around a tree.
Old 12 Volt Car Battery
An old car battery is a perfect solution to power 12 volt LED lights, as it produces 12 volts. Even if your car battery won’t start your car, give it a charge for about 12 hours and it will power your LEDs for days, if not weeks. Cars need substantial energy to start them and your old car battery probably doesn’t have that power, but it’s likely to produce more than enough energy to run your lights. Just connect the two wires from the LEDs to the two battery terminals and use a couple of strips of tape to hold them in place.
Two 6 Volt Batteries
If you wire two 6 volt lantern-size batteries using a method called series, the combined voltage is 12 volts. Lantern batteries are a reasonable size, so you can expect them to last for a long time. Wire the two batteries by cutting one strip of wire about 3 or 4 inches long then remove about one-half inch of insulation off both ends of the wire. Use wire strippers or a knife. Place one end of the wire onto the “+” terminal of one of the batteries and hold it in place using a strip of electrical tape. Place the opposite end on the “-“ terminal of the second battery and use tape to hold it in place. All you need to do is connect the two wires from the LED lights to the “-“ terminal of the first battery and the “+” terminal of the second battery and your LED will light up.
Three Rechargeable Batteries
A good method for powering your LEDs is to use rechargeable batteries. It’s a little more expensive initially, but works out less expensive over time. Use lithium polymer cells and wire three together in series. They don’t quite give you 12 volts as each battery produces 3.7 volts so you get 11.1, but your LEDs will still work perfectly. Use the same method as for the two 6 volt batteries, except cut two strips of wire. Connect the first and second battery as before then attach the end of the second strip to the “+” terminal of the second battery and the opposite end to the “-“ terminal of the third battery. Attach one wire from the LED lights to the “-“ terminal of the first battery and the other wire from the lights to the “+” terminal of the third battery.
9 Volt Battery
A simple but effective method is to use a 9 volt battery; the small rectangular type that are used in most smoke detectors. They have the two octagonal terminals on the top of the battery. The battery won’t last as long as the other options and your lights won’t be quite so bright but they will work. If you don’t have an old car battery and want the least expensive option, then a 9 volt battery is the answer.
Stephen Benham has been writing since 1999. His current articles appear on various websites. Benham has worked as an insurance research writer for Axco Services, producing reports in many countries. He has been an underwriting member at Lloyd's of London and a director of three companies. Benham has a diploma in business studies from South Essex College, U.K.