Flickering candle tea lights are a staple of every home haunter’s inventory. They’re perfect for dressing up any prop or scene because they’re realistic (if you squint) and because they won’t burn the house down. Still, they can be a pain to operate. Replacement batteries aren’t cheap, and it can take quite a bit of effort to turn the lights on and off every night. Thankfully, we’ve found a solution to both problems!
In the Mr. Jingles garage we’ve started hard-wiring our tea lights. This process takes a tea light, speaker wire, a resistor, a soldering gun, solder, and a spare transformer (aka “wall wart). It also takes some electronics knowledge/skill. If you’re not comfortable with a soldering gun, unfortunately this may be a project you want to avoid.
First, pop the top of the light off just like you would if you were changing the battery. Then, remove the battery out and set it aside. Take a length of speaker wire and solder it to the piece of metal the positive side of the battery was touching. Then, take a second length of wire and prepare to solder it to the piece of metal the negative side of the battery was touching.
To reduce the voltage from the transformer (aka “wall wart”) to a level that can be used by the LED, you’ll need to add in a resistor. In our case we used a 560 ohms resistor to reduce power from 12 volts to three volts. To figure out your exact numbers, use the LED Wizard Array calculator.
Then, drill a small hole in the side of the tea light, run the speaker wires through, and snap the top back on. You’re half way there! The final step is to solder the speaker wires to the transformer. In our case we cut down a transformer from an old cell phone. Be sure to solder the negative to the negative and the positive to the positive.
As you can see in the picture above, we also included some male/female connectors in our circuit so we could fit the wires to the light through a small hole in our coffin. Now, we can flip one switch to turn the entire scene on and off. It makes setting things up so easy!