8 Steps to Power an LED with a Lemon Battery

You may have caught our recent video where one of our facilitators, Miss Natalie, talks about one of her favorite Robotics stories at Full Sail Labs. After hearing about how excited her students were to light a LED using a battery made from a lemon, you may be asking, “How can I do that, too?”

Here’s how we turned a lemon into a battery to power an LED light. Disclaimer: before you get started, kiddos, parental guidance and assistance is required. Okay, now for the instructions:

What you’ll need:

  • A bunch of lemons (the fresher and juicier, the better!)
  • Pennies (Circa 1982 or prior), one for each lemon
  • Galvanized Nails equal to the number of lemons you have
  • Wires with alligator clips (We used the wires included in the Makey Makey Kit)
  • A low voltage LED with free wires
  • A knife or box cutter (This is where the parental guidance comes in)

Here’s what to do:

  1. Take a lemon and push a nail into it. You’ll want about a half inch of the blunt side of the nail to be showing outside of the lemon.

  2. Have a parent make a small incision in the lemon with the knife or box cutter. This opening will need to be wide enough to fit the penny.

  3. Push the penny about halfway into the lemon. In order for this project to work, the penny will work better if it’s dated 1982 or before because the US Mint stopped using as much copper in pennies after 1982.

    Beginning steps for creating a lemon battery to light a LED

  4. Repeat steps 1-3 with 4 or more lemons.

    Lemons are all prepped to become batteries.
  5. Now that you have your lemons set up, you’ll connect one end of your wire to the nail (this represents the negative flow of electricity) and the other end of the wire to the penny of another lemon (the penny will give off a positive charge). 

    Connecting wires to allow the current to flow through the lemons
    Repeat this until you have one lemon with a disconnected penny and another lemon with a disconnected nail.

    Almost ready to connect the LED to the Lemon Battery
  6. Connect a clip to the remaining open penny. 

    Connect the positive current from the Lemon Battery

  7. Connect an alligator clip to the remaining nail.

    Connect a wire to the nail for the negative current

  8. Connect the other end of the penny wire to the longer, Positive leg of the LED light and the other end of the nail wire to the shorter, negative leg of the LED light with the last wire.


    A lemon battery powers a led light

And that’s it! You should now have a LED that is lit. If the steps above do not get your LED to light, here are a few troubleshooting steps you can try:

  • Confirm your clips are correctly attached to the wires, pennies, and nails.
  • Your pennies and nails will need to be clean, especially where the clips connect. 
  • Make sure your lemons are fresh. Newer, juicier lemons work best for this project.
  • Try adding a few extra lemon batteries (using steps 1-3 and adding the appropriate amount of connecting wires).

We hope you enjoyed this Lemon Battery tutorial. If you did, you can share it using the social media buttons below and find other tutorial videos on our YouTube channel. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for other fun projects and updates.

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