How to Produce Power With Magnets

••• Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

Many power plants use moving magnets to convert kinetic and magnetic energy into electric current. Magnet generators make a great science project because of the simple instructions and intriguing premise. The combined energy of the magnetic field and motion of the magnet within a coil of copper wire causes the electrons in the wire to move, which is an electric current. There are several variations on this type of experiment, some more difficult to build than others. Making a shake-to-power magnet generator is a simple way to demonstrate the power of magnetic generators.

    ••• Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

    Trace the shape of the film canister onto the cardboard twice with the pencil. Draw a circle 1/2-inch around each traced circle.

    ••• Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

    Cut out the circles so that you have two cardboard "O's" that fit snugly around the film canister and slide them onto the canister about an inch apart. Wrap electrical tape between the cardboard pieces and on the outside edges of the canister.

    ••• Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

    Wind the magnet wire around the canister between the cardboard pieces 1,000 to 2,000 times, being sure to leave a few inches of the beginning of the wire hanging free so that you can connect the light to it later.

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    Secure the wrapped wire into place with a small piece of tape, leaving a long, loose piece of wire on either end. Scrape the insulation off the loose wire pieces with the sand paper.

    ••• Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

    Wrap the ends of the wire around the end pieces of the LED light bulb. Tape to secure the wired bulb to the bottom of the canister.

    ••• Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

    Place the neodymium magnet inside the canister and close the lid. Holding the canister between your thumb and forefinger so that the lid does not come loose, shake the canister back and forth to light the bulb.

    Things You'll Need

    • 1/4 spool of copper magnet wire
    • Fine grit sandpaper
    • Scissors
    • Pencil
    • Small and powerful neodymium magnet
    • Low voltage LED light bulb (less than 2.5 volts)
    • 35 mm film canister
    • Electrical tape
    • Cardboard


    • Adding more magnets to the canister or more turns to the wire coil can change the brightness of the bulb. Experiment with the number of turns and magnets to see how you can make your generator more powerful.


About the Author

Linda Becksterhed is a professional writer with a legal and crafting focus. She handled creation and distribution of fan newsletters from 1998 to 2001 and maintains an entertainment blog. She is a paralegal and an accomplished fiber artist, specializing in yarn, spinning fibers and crochet and knit designs.

Photo Credits

  • Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media