In a previous article, we described the adaptation of LED Christmas lights as emergency solar lighting powered directly from an off-grid battery array. This approach provides many advantages versus running them from an inverter, including useful lighting while trying to fix your inverter. In that article we made some recommendations about string lengths, current and light levels. Immediately after publishing that article, we discovered that some strings burned out although they should not have, and some strings did not burn out when they should.
To figure out what is really going on, we built a test fixture using materials accessible to most people, and tested batches of cool white, warm white and red LED lights. The results are enlightening, and the whole project makes a great homeschool science lesson. Plus, by using this test fixture with your own lights, you can create light strings, emergency or otherwise, which are more reliable, consistent and long-lasting.
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