How do you utilize the Raspberry PI to be able to power hundreds of LED lights?

Imagine I have Christmas Lights (LED) and I want to be able to control all individually (write a program on the Raspberry pi).

What kind of equipment and chips do I need to be able to do that. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • I guess to pick the best fitting technique depends on the details of the application. Namely the number of independently controlled LED and the desired frequency of their change of status. So to speak the bandwith or information transfer rate. Also of interrest would be whether it's a simple quasi-static on/off of the LEDs or also a change in brightness of the individual LED (PWM comes to mind).
    – Ghanima
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 1:04
  • 1
    This should not have been migrated - it's an EE design question before and far more fundamentally than a pi question. That it ended up here is only because the curmudgeons at EESE like to dump less technically worded questions. You will get far better answers if you drop the "pi" from your search and look at the lighting aspect alone. Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 4:13

1 Answer 1


The solution would vary depending on the number of independently controlled LED and the desired frequency of their change of status. To get an answer started (and shamelessly ripping off already existing answers, see below):

Sources and recommended further readings:

How to get MCP23s08(8 bit I/O expander) working with GPIO on Raspberry Pi?
What is the best way to increase digital I/O lines on Pi?
Raspberry pi GPIO extension
Controlling 400 LEDs from a raspberry pi
Controlling many LEDs with few GPIO pins

  • 1
    I'd add individually addressable LED strips to your answer. Perhaps look on such sites as Adafruit and search for ones known to be compatible with the Raspberry and easy (or perhaps I should say easier) to drive.
    – joan
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 7:55
  • Thanks @joan, I'll add that. I still think that more info from the OP is needed here to give proper advise.
    – Ghanima
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 13:58

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