How to build an infrared light

Written by jennifer leigh
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How to build an infrared light
LED infrared light bulbs can be used to make a simple infrared light. (led image by sasha from

Creating an infrared, or IR, light is an inexpensive and relatively simple project. IR lights can be used for night vision, thermography, heating and various other purposes. Making a freestanding IR light for use in science projects or home experiments gives you more freedom than using a traditional lamp with an IR bulb in it. With a few simple household tools and an LED infrared light bulb, you can create an IR lamp for less than £13.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Infrared LED light bulb
  • Current-limiting resistor
  • Perfboard
  • 22-gauge wire
  • Hobby knife
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Wire cutters
  • DC power supply
  • Switch

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  1. 1

    Purchase an infrared LED. These can be found at hardware or home stores. Keep the LED with you when looking for the other materials as you will need its electrical information.

  2. 2

    Obtain a current-limiting resistor for the LED based on the LED's electrical specifications. Divide the LED's voltage by its amperes. The resistor's ohms should equal this number, which will be specified on the packaging.

  3. 3

    Select a DC power supply with output voltage equal to the LED's operating voltage.

  4. 4

    Mount the switch onto the perfboard by making a hole in the perfboard with your knife. Utilise the mounting kit that came with the switch on the perfboard.

  5. 5

    Insert the LED into the perfboard. Place it far enough from the switch that it won't interfere with the switch, but close enough that wiring won't be a problem. Insert the resistor into the perfboard so that one lead of the resistor is next to the LED's anode. The cathode is on the LED's flat side, so the anode is on the opposite side. Solder the anode to the resistor lead. Solder the LED cathode lead to the switch.

  6. 6

    Connect the negative supply of the DC power supply to the unconnected side of the switch with the wire. Connect the positive side to the unconnected resistor lead. Solder the connections to make it solid. Trim off any wire that remains in sight.

  7. 7

    Plug in the power supply and turn on the switch. The IR light should turn on.

Tips and warnings

  • Be careful when soldering; the iron and the solder get very hot.
  • Make sure that nothing is plugged in until the entire project is completed.

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