I have heard that for some electronics, it is safe to use a higher voltage than is intended if it is just for a short burst. I want to program my arduino to light up some 3v LEDs for just 1ms, like a camera flash, but at as high voltage as possible to get maximum brightness. Is this possible, or will it just burn out my lights? If it is, roughly how much higher can the voltage go?

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    \$\begingroup\$ LEDs are limited by current, no so much voltage. I don't really know what a "3V" LED is, perhaps it has a resistor built in it so that the correct amount of current flows when 3V is applied. Also we don't know what model your LED is, so I'm not sure what you want us to do, guess? \$\endgroup\$
    – Bort
    Sep 27, 2017 at 0:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ If this is you own home-made project, it will be probably the best to just buy LED specified for high enough current. You can get LED which can handle 1 A or more of continuous current (within cooling limits) for few $, so it is probably not worth of trying to overload any "smaller" LED for the purpose of as much light as possible. \$\endgroup\$
    – Martin
    Sep 27, 2017 at 1:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have seen LED datasheets that listed allowable pulse ratings. I don't suppose you have a datasheet for this LED? \$\endgroup\$
    – user57037
    Sep 27, 2017 at 5:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Different LEDs have different specs on pushing the limit : I've seen some that specify short term pulse overloads that must not extend beyond a cumulative 60 seconds over the life of the device. See electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/61357/… for more \$\endgroup\$
    – user16324
    Sep 27, 2017 at 9:59

1 Answer 1


If your LED has a datasheet, there may be an absolute maximum rating which would contain max voltage and current.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that absolute maximum values are not meant, in any way, as a point where device should be operated, neither for limited periods. These are usually limits for destruction of the part in question and even operation just under absolute maximum ratings can affect part negatively. Some LED manufacturers do specify allowed short-time overload, which would be perfect for such use, but it is not too common and such explicitly allowed overload is usually not too high. Aside immediate destruction of the LED, most likely problem is quick degradation of light output. \$\endgroup\$
    – Martin
    Sep 27, 2017 at 0:47

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