Why is it necessary to use a resistor in series with an LED?

The ballast resistor is used to limit the current through the LED and to prevent that it burns. If the voltage source is equal to the voltage drop of the LED, no resistor is required. The resistance of the ballast resistor is easy to calculate with Ohm's law and Kirchhoff's circuit laws.
A.

What resistor do I need with an LED?

Choosing a resistor to work with an LED is fairly simple, but does require some knowledge of the LED and a small amount of maths. Some LEDs such as colour changing LEDs, flashing LEDs and 5V LEDs are designed to run off a 5V supply and therefore don't need a resistor.
  • What is the wattage of a resistor?

    The wattage is the amount of energy the resistor can dissipate without failing. This depends on your application, but use Joule's Law of P = I * I * R. If your circuit operates at 50mA and the resistance is 330 Ohms, the power dissipated by the resistor is 0.825 Watts.
  • What is the value of the resistor?

    A resistor is a device that opposes the flow of electrical current. The bigger the value of a resistor the more it opposes the current flow. The value of a resistor is given in ohms and is often referred to as its 'resistance'.
  • What is the forward voltage of a LED?

    The forward voltage is the voltage drop across the diode if the voltage at the anode is more positive than the voltage at the cathode (if you connect + to the anode). You will be using this value to calculate the power dissipation of the diode and the voltage after the diode.
B.

Which side of the LED is positive?

Diode and LED Polarity. Diodes only allow current to flow in one direction, and they're always polarized. A diode has two terminals. The positive side is called the anode, and the negative one is called the cathode.
  • Which is the positive side of a capacitor?

    The negative pin of the cap is usually indicated by a “-” marking, and/or a colored strip along the can. They might also have a longer positive leg. Below are 10µF (left) and a 1mF electrolytic capacitors, each of which has a dash symbol to mark the negative leg, as well as a longer positive leg.
  • Is a striped wire positive or negative?

    The solid/dashed lines on wires like the ones pictured in your question are used to indicate polarity e.g. for the "wall wart" power supplies. Usually* the wire with the white stripe or the dashed lines carries the "positive" (+) end, while the other, unmarked wire carries the "negative" (-) end.
  • What is a diode in a circuit?

    Diodes. A diode is a discrete component that allows current to flow in one direction only. It is a polarised component with two leads, called the cathode and the anode. The cathode is normally marked with a silver or coloured band or the symbol '-'.
C.

What voltage to use for LED?

Many circuits operate LEDs at less than the recommended maximum current, to save power, to permit the use of a standard resistor value, or to reduce brightness. Typically, the forward voltage of an LED is between 1.8 and 3.3 volts. It varies by the color of the LED.
  • What is the function of a LED?

    A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor device that emits visible light when an electric current passes through it. The light is not particularly bright, but in most LEDs it is monochromatic, occurring at a single wavelength.
  • What is a driver for LED?

    An LED driver is an electrical device which regulates the power to an LED or a string (or strings) of LEDs. An LED driver responds to the changing needs of the LED, or LED circuit, by providing a constant quantity of power to the LED as its electrical properties change with temperature.
  • What is the forward voltage of a LED?

    The forward voltage is the voltage drop across the diode if the voltage at the anode is more positive than the voltage at the cathode (if you connect + to the anode). You will be using this value to calculate the power dissipation of the diode and the voltage after the diode.

Updated: 3rd October 2019

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