How to Make a Potato Powered Light Bulb

By: Contributors

Did you know you could power a light bulb with a potato? The chemical reactions that take place between two dissimilar metals and the juices in the potato create a small amount of voltage that can power a very small electrical device [source: MadSci]. Follow the instructions below to make a potato-powered light bulb.



  • A large potato
  • Two pennies
  • Two zinc-plated nails
  • Three pieces of copper wire
  • A very small light bulb or LED light

What you need to do:

  1. Cut the potato in half, then cut a small slit into each half, large enough to slide a penny inside.
  2. Wrap some copper wire around each penny a few times. Use a different piece of wire for each penny.
  3. Stick the pennies in the slits you cut into the potato halves.
  4. Wrap some of the third copper wire around one of the zinc-plated nails and stick the nail into one of the potato halves.
  5. Take the wire connected to the penny in the half of potato with the nail and wrap some of it around the second nail. Stick that second nail into the other potato half.
  6. When you connect the two loose ends of the copper wires to the light bulb or LED it will light up [source: MathinScience].

Be careful when handling the wires, because there is a small electric charge running through the wires. Hydrogen gas may also be a byproduct of the chemical reactions in the potato, so don't perform the experiment near open flames or strong sources of heat [source: MadSci].