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Old 01-02-2013, 04:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
pk5
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Fruit Battery, Chrismas Light, and Series/Parallel Circuit

Hi everyone

So I am helping my supervisor's kid with his science project and he choose to do the fruit battery (lemon, orange, tangerine, grapefruit).

His original theory was to test all the different fruit and see which one can light up the light bulb the brightest assuming the following:

Standard home depot nail
Copper penny
Christmas bulb

The brightness was going to be measured using an iphone light meter app.

How ever we are running into a few issues:
1. It seem that by hooking the christmas bulb to a standard AA battery, the battery barely have enough power to light up the bulb. In order to get enough voltage to run the bulb, we need at least 2 battery in series. The total voltage needed was about 3V and unknown current.
2. By hooking together 3 lemons in series we can get 2.4 volt which decrease significantly overtime.

Have anyone done this experiment before and have anyone been able to measure brightness of a bulb with a fruits? If yes, how many fruit did you have to use and did you run them in parallel or series or both?

Youtube videos show an LED lightbulb with at least 3 to 4 fruits however none show a christmas light or the different in brightness between each fruits. I could switch to an LED if that is the only issue.
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Old 01-02-2013, 04:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think I would work it from two sides. Go with the LED for fun and demonstration, but get a milliammeter (and voltmeter) to judge your fruit.

Buy more fruit, big is more, more is better.
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Last edited by Spider!; 01-02-2013 at 04:41 PM. Reason: volts too
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pk5 View Post
Hi everyone

So I am helping my supervisor's kid with his science project and he choose to do the fruit battery (lemon, orange, tangerine, grapefruit).

His original theory was to test all the different fruit and see which one can light up the light bulb the brightest assuming the following:

Standard home depot nail
Copper penny
Christmas bulb

The brightness was going to be measured using an iphone light meter app.

How ever we are running into a few issues:
1. It seem that by hooking the christmas bulb to a standard AA battery, the battery barely have enough power to light up the bulb. In order to get enough voltage to run the bulb, we need at least 2 battery in series. The total voltage needed was about 3V and unknown current.
2. By hooking together 3 lemons in series we can get 2.4 volt which decrease significantly overtime.

Have anyone done this experiment before and have anyone been able to measure brightness of a bulb with a fruits? If yes, how many fruit did you have to use and did you run them in parallel or series or both?

Youtube videos show an LED lightbulb with at least 3 to 4 fruits however none show a christmas light or the different in brightness between each fruits. I could switch to an LED if that is the only issue.
Are you sure that christmas lightbulb wasnt an led? they typically wont do anything below 3.2 volts unless you find a wierd one. a change in voltage wont change how they look. Too much current will pop them though.

Christmas tree lights run on 110. thats gonna take a lot of oranges try it with a maglight bulb ( non led). They are designed for 3v and will work down to almost nothing. or just about any other flashlight bulb.
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dukie View Post
Are you sure that christmas lightbulb wasnt an led? they typically wont do anything below 3.2 volts unless you find a wierd one. a change in voltage wont change how they look. Too much current will pop them though.

Christmas tree lights run on 110. thats gonna take a lot of oranges try it with a maglight bulb ( non led). They are designed for 3v and will work down to almost nothing. or just about any other flashlight bulb.
While the strand is fed 110, the actual individual bulbs only experience usually around 1/50th of that. The lights are typically wired in series (for a 100 strand, two parallel 50s). So the total voltage drop is divided equally amongst bulbs.

And for those wondering, modern bulbs now have a shunt in them which allows current to pass through the bulb even if the filament is burned out. That is why a burnt out bulb won't kill the whole strand, but when you remove the light to replace it, the strand goes out.

So, you can power a mini christmas light with a fruit. But you'll need around 2.2v.

I would second the ammeter suggestion. It is definitely the best way to get an accurate reading. If you measure both current and voltage, you can get power. You could also measure the brightness with the iPhone app and compare that with the current/voltage. See if they increase linearly, or if there is diminishing returns, or...?

Lots of good concepts to explore with simple fruits.
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