I made the simplest circuit with a 9V battery, a green LED (3.3v and 20ma) and a 550 ohms resistor (green green brown gold)

The LED was brand new and died immediately and the resistor was burning hot.

The same circuit with a red LED worked fine.

Does it matter where the resistor is in the circuit (in this case I put it at the end, between the LED and the - of the battery as I read it doesn't matter)

Does it matter which end of the resistor you connect to the battery? (does it have a + and -?)

According to http://www.hebeiltd.com.cn/?p=zz.led.resistor.calculator a 330 ohm resistor would have been enough for a 3.3v LED in a simple circuit.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Even if the LED was faulty and was short circuited inside, the 550ohm resistor would have to limit the current to 9V/550Ohms=16.3ma and the power to 147mW on the resistor. For how many watts is the resistor rated? \$\endgroup\$ – 1p2r3k4t Oct 15 '13 at 11:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have that information. It's a very tiny resistor I found in a small portable radio. \$\endgroup\$ – gyc Oct 15 '13 at 11:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ It must be 1/8W. Either the LED was faulty and had a short circuit, or the resistor you used was not 550ohms but less. \$\endgroup\$ – 1p2r3k4t Oct 15 '13 at 11:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe the LED was reversed? 9V reverse biased on a led with only 5V reverse bias will cook I think ... It's been a long time since I've done that.... \$\endgroup\$ – Spoon Oct 15 '13 at 12:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Spoon: As long as the current is limited by the resistor, reverse bias current should not damage an LED. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Oct 15 '13 at 12:24

Maybe you used a 5-band resistor like here: -

enter image description here

Or maybe it was a four band without tolerance?

Green, green, brown, gold would give you 55.1 ohms and this would fry the resistor/LED with about 120mA.

OR maybe it's an inductor!!

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    \$\begingroup\$ I use this: digikey.com/us/en/mkt/4-band-resistors.html to calculate the resistor and for green green brown gold it says 550 ohms, if I knew it was 55 ohms I wouldn't have used it... \$\endgroup\$ – gyc Oct 15 '13 at 11:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ oh! As you said it might well be a 4 band resistor without tolerance. It's very small so I can't figure if there's a space... \$\endgroup\$ – gyc Oct 15 '13 at 11:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a meter to measure it or is it fried to dust and debris? \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka Oct 15 '13 at 12:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sadly I don't have a meter but that's my next investment... The resistor is in one piece, it doesn't look fried. I just burned my finger a little trying to remove it from the breadboard. \$\endgroup\$ – gyc Oct 15 '13 at 12:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it's important you get it measured. It could of course be an inductor and it will have virtually no dc resistance. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka Oct 15 '13 at 12:52

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