You are on page 1of 3

Forward Current of LED

LEDs are very sensitive devices and the amount of current flowing through an LED is
very important. Also, the brightness of an LED depends on the amount of current
drawn by the LED.

Every LED is rated with a maximum forward current that is safe to pass through it
without burning off the LED. Yes. Allowing current more than the rated current will
actually burn the LED.

For example, most commonly used 5mm LEDs have a current rating of 20mA to
30mA and the 8mm LEDs have a current rating of 150mA (refer to the datasheet for
exact values).

How to we regulate the current flowing through an LED? In order to control the
current flowing through an LED, we make use of current limiting series resistors.

More information about LEDs and Current Limiting Resistors SIMPLE LED
Polarity of LED
Polarity is an indication of symmetricity of an electronic component. A Light Emitting
Diode, similar to a PN Junction Diode, is not symmetric i.e. it allows current to flow
only in one direction.

In an LED, the positive terminal is called as Anode and the negative terminal is
called as Cathode. For the LED to work properly, the Anode of the LED should be at
a higher potential than the Cathode as the current in LED flows from Anode to

What happens if we connect the LED in reverse direction? Well, nothing happens as
the LED would not conduct. You can easily identify the Anode terminal of an LED as
they usually have longer leads.

Characteristics of LED (Light Emitting Diode)

Before connecting an LED is a circuit and start using it, there are few characteristics
of LED that are worth knowing (actually, they are very important). If you refer to any
of the datasheets provided by the manufacturer, you can find a lot specification
corresponding to electrical characteristics, absolute maximum ratings, physical
dimensions etc.

Basics of LED (Light Emitting Diode)

As mentioned in the introduction, an LED is a semiconductor light source. It consists
of a PN Junction Diode and when voltage is applied to the LED, electrons and holes
recombine in the PN Junction and release energy in the form of light (Photons).

The light emitted by an LED is usually monochromatic i.e. of single color and the
color is dependent on the energy band gap of the semiconductor.

Light Emitting Diodes can be manufactured to emit all the wavelengths of visible
spectrum i.e. from Red (620nm to 750nm) to blue – violet (380nm to 490nm).

The electrical symbol of an LED is similar to that of a PN Junction Diode. The

following image shows a Red LED along with symbols of PN Junction Diode and