Controlling 100 light matrix of incandescent bulbs

Anyone have any idea if this would be possible, given the power issue that I'd be dealing with with lighting 100 individual light sockets each with a 20 watt bulb? I'm trying to figure out if this project would be feasible--I want to be able to update the grid with various patterns/displays, in real time, but really haven't done anything on such a large scale before. Only way I can think of doing it is with a hundred individual relay switches to turn each light individually on or off, but I'm sure there has to be a better way.

Any help would be amazing!!

You'll obviously need an additional powersource ;)

You'll also need relays:

As for 100 outputs, that is indeed in range of arduino, if you add some additional ICs.

I think you should do some small scaled proof-of-concept work before starting this enormous project :)

How are the lighs going to be arranged? :)

Thanks for the links! Do you think i would just set a relay on each individual light, meaning I'd have 100 lights, 100 relays, 100 plugs, and 100 outlets? That sounds insane! Haha. Any other options? I mean essentially the easiest way would to have them operate as if on a string of christmas lights--each individual bulb connected to the next, say 10 on a string, sharing power, and then individually getting a signal from the board telling the light to turn on or off. Any thoughts?

I'm planning on arranging them in a grid at first, then moving onto other forms...we'll see where that takes me. I just need to get it working first!

The problem is that high voltage AC does not lend itself to the many matrix switching methods that are used with LEDs. Not sure the line voltage you use but 100 20 watt lamps, if all turned on at the same time could not be safely powered from a standard US 120v 15amp power outlet. Are you really fixed on using 20 watt 120 vac lamps? In this day and age that is probably considered a pretty inefficient approach.

But I do wish you luck with your project.


I agree--definitely inefficient with the incandescent bulbs. I've been exploring alternatives, but I really do want to keep that kind of glowly edison light kind of look.

That said, I found a possible alternative--a string of Christmas lights, 25 on a string, with the bulbs I want. Would this be a feasible alternative?

The Christmas lights are probably 7W (maybe even smaller), rather than 20W. Perhaps better (certainly will be for your electric bill :) ).

Instead of relays, think about using triacs to switch the bulbs. Less power, less noise, and you have the option of adding dimming control.

If I were doing this, I'd probably use about a dozen 20-pin micros, giving each one control of 8 lamps and a programmed-in-firmware address. I'd hook all their serial in lines to the serial out of the Arduino, and send out brightness commands. That provides lots of flexibility for (re-)arrangment of the lamps, and the micros cost only a bit more than shift registers or I2C port expanders.