How to Solder an LED

by Contributor

Soldering an LED is a basic task that can be completed in a few minutes, but doing it the right way is important. A faulty connection could result in the LED not working and then further repair will be required. A few basic tips for using your soldering iron and applying the solder correctly will help you do the job right the first time. You can apply these techniques to other small soldering jobs in your shop and around the home.


Plug in the soldering iron and let it heat up. Pen-type soldering irons usually reach soldering temperature in less than two minutes. A soldering iron that allows you to adjust the temperature is ideal since you can set the iron tip just high enough to make the solder flow. Turn the knob up or down to set the correct temperature if your soldering iron has this feature. The typical melting temperature for lead-free rosin core solder is 430 degrees F.


Place the soldering iron tip in a safe position. The tip should not touch any flammable material or your clothes, fingers or other parts of your body.


Add temperature protection as you solder by optionally using a clamp-on heat sink. The heat sink will help draw heat away from the LED as you apply the solder. Consider using a heat sink if you do not have much experience soldering to avoid damaging the LED.


Identify the longer lead on the LED; this is the positive lead. The direction is not reversible.


Tin the LED lead, and if you are connecting to another wire, tin that wire as well. To tin a wire, heat it with the soldering iron and then touch the solder to the wire. The solder will flow onto the wire, producing a thin coating of solder. Some electronics retailers sell pre-tinned wire.


Hold the LED against the connection that you want to solder. If you have a hands-free clamp, this is a good time to put it to use. Heat the connection with your soldering iron, then press the solder to the connection (not the tip of the iron) to let the solder flow.


Inspect your soldering work. Look for bubbles and too little or too much solder in the connection. If you notice any of these conditions, desolder the connection by heating it again and removing the solder with a desoldering braid or tool. If the connection is shiny rather than a dull gray color and it has no bubbles, the connection is good. The final test will be when you apply power to test your LED circuit.

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