Introduction: Big Lamps From Ikea Lampan Lamps

Picture of Big Lamps From Ikea Lampan Lamps

This Instructable shows you how to build large spherical lamps out of Ikea lampan lamps ( $4.99 each ). The lamps are based on platonic solids. With this method I have built large spheres up to 32 lamps.
In the PDF below i included three templates: for the six, twelve and 32 lamp versions. These are all generated from a python script in the Maya software. I calculated that the largest sphere that could be build has about 120 lamps and i would love to build that one; but it will be heavy and bright and probably needs some serious thinking on the structural integrity. Drop me a mail if you are interested in having one.

See the flickr set for more pictures and my log.

Step 1: Tools

Picture of Tools

You need a couple of tools. I burn holes in the lamps with a soldering iron and connect them together with 'tie-wraps. You need also tools to strip the wires and connect them together. I use piggy-back connectors (used in cars). They come with a nice tool to squeeze them together, but there are various other ways.
You can use a clothes hanger to mount the lamp on the ceiling.

Step 2: Unpack the Lamps

Picture of Unpack the Lamps

In this instructable I show how to build a cube with six lamps. Unpack the lamps, and cut of the wires inbetween the switches and the lamps.

Step 3: Burn the Holes

Picture of Burn the Holes

Print out the appropriate page(s) of the template PDF. Mark the holes with a pen and burn holes with a soldering iron. The tire-wraps should go easily through the holes. Burning holes in plastic is not so nice, but easier than drilling. So open a window or do it outside.

Step 4: Connecting the Power Cables

Picture of Connecting the Power Cables

Strip the cables. For connecting the wires I use piggy-backs. Three wires go together in one piggy back ( blue by blue and brown by brown ) then connect the four resulting piggy-backs two by two, and then to a power cable. Use one of the cables you cut off earlier.

Step 5: Connecting the Lamps Together

Picture of Connecting the Lamps Together

Connect the lamps together with tie-wraps. Make sure that they can be fastened from the outside ;) First connect them quite loose, once you've connected all the lamps, tighten the tie-wraps one by one and make multiple rounds until the lamps are tightly connected into a strong structure. Don't forget to insert a hanger to mount the lamp on the ceiling.

Step 6: Done

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The dodecahedron ( with 12 ) is the nicest one and quite straightforward to build as well but the icosahedron like structure with 32 lamps is quite a challenge....


BartholomewH (author)2015-04-09

How could have I never thought about lamps!
This is kinda hilarious since it's been quite some time I do Ikea furniture assembly as a living..
I think I have a good idea what we should add to our "Ikea furniture to do" list.

2636 (author)BartholomewH2017-07-06

me too #Inspired #preachit #lovingTheWork

MeetaL (author)2015-08-14

very very cool!

ludivego (author)2008-10-03

Just an FYI. It will not look like this if you do this in the US. There is not color coding. I did use a voltmeter when I did mine to make sure that I wired up the same wires to each other. I also soldered the connections and used shrink tubing instead of butt connectors. As for the safety of it. When I bought my lamps at Ikea I also bought the compact fluorescent bulbs (about $4.50 each). They are rated at about 7 watts each so for 6 the lamp is about 42 watts. I have left it on for several hours to see if it would overheat or if the wiring would "melt" so far after about 10 hours of use no problems. All in all I love the lamp and I am thinking of building the 12 lamp version.

whiskeybear00 (author)ludivego2009-10-14

 when connecting wire for US. how did you use the voltmeter to makesure the wires were right

MarkF28 (author)whiskeybear002015-08-07

It is impossible because there is no "wrong" way. Either way is equally safe and viable and the lamps will be fine.

MarkF28 (author)MarkF282015-08-07

Let me clarify. The only wire that matters is the one with the switch that plugs into the wall. Wire up the system with the switch OFF and no light bulbs in the sockets. Plug the plug into the wall. Check the voltage (AC) between the light bulb socket and a convenient ground (such as a water pipe). Turn the switch on and you will see there is 120 volts AC inside each socket. If you do not see 120 volts when the switch is on you aren't testing the right points, or your ground isn't good. Now turn the switch off. There should always be zero volts between the socket and the pipe when the switch is off. If the sockets show 120 volts with the switch off, you have the wires on the switch connection flipped. Swap the two switch wires and you are good to go.

irishchaos (author)ludivego2010-02-08

When you say, "... wired up the same wires to each other", do you mean positive-to-positive and negative-to-negative?  Since there's no color-coding in the U.S. version, I heard that the wire with writing embossed in the plastic is the "hot" wire?  Does it matter, as long as you're consistent?

MarkF28 (author)irishchaos2015-08-07

It does not actually matter, because the power is AC and each fixture
works independently. Switching wires only puts the electrical connection
of that light bulb 180 degrees out of phase, but it still works and
there is no harm done. Try it and you will see. There is no such thing
as "positive" and "negative" terminals in AC power, except in the
transient sense that every 1/120th of a second each wire changes from
being positive to negative and then back.

ludivego (author)irishchaos2010-02-08

Yes it does matter and you do need to be consistent. So Positive to Positive and Negative to Negative.

I used a Digital multimeter and tested the wiring to make sure that it was all consistent.

maryana.zelenko (author)2015-02-19

Nice work! And heve you seen these DIY lamps?

When I first read "the bird lamp" I laughed my coffee out...

janvanhulzen made it! (author)2014-08-14

The lamp is very nice, i like it a lot. Connecting the lamps was a bit of a puzzle. In the end i made two clusters of three connected lamps, then attached three lamps to each cluster in such a way that the loose lamps would not touch each other and were connected to two of the lamps in the original, three lamp cluster. Thanks for coming up with the design and posting it...

Mvmeerkerk made it! (author)2014-06-11

I met Daan at a festival in 2011 and it is still the centerpiece of my living room.

stigm made it! (author)2014-03-10

If you are using a temperature controlled soldering iron, I used 230°C (446°F) which melted the plastic for the holes without burning.

I also soldered the wires and used white heat-shrink. Took much longer but the inside of the lamp looks great ('nexus' of white wires).

wandering otaku (author)2011-04-07

The lamp makes me think of a Katamari ball from Katamari Damacy

vulcan24 (author)wandering otaku2011-07-09

Lol yeah katamari damacy ftw!! Someone should make a katamari lamp or ball though glue random objects together that would be awesome!

nillusius (author)2010-10-13

I just build mine (6 lampan version), didn't take long at all!

vonsachermasoch (author)2010-09-14

Very interesting idea. I just discovered it.

I'm planning to build the x12 version. I have a few questions:

1) will the standard power cable be enough to support the tension generated by 12x7w LED bulbs?
2) I'm planning to use 11x black Lampans +1x red Lampan. In this sense, I would like to use 1 high power bulb in the red lampan (e.g. 40w standard bulb). Considering the particular wiring of the project, would this represent a problem in terms of... I don't know... power balancing? or something?

I'm not an technician and would like to have your advice on this. Thank you in advance.

holotropic (author)2010-08-15

4 lamps.....tetrahedron............3 holes (evenly drilled in the base of each lamp)
6 lamps.....cube........................4 holes
8 lamps......octahedron............3 holes
12 lamps....dodecahedron......5 holes
20 lamps....icosahedron..........3 holes (not always possible(may overlap)) more possibilities use peda polypro software and find incredible numbers

MrMadmonkey4 (author)2010-05-15

thats so cool! :D

EyTommy (author)2010-03-19

I was building my dodecahedron the last three days. It wasn't such difficult as is thought. Thank you for sharing this instruction and the time you've spent in developing the whole idea.

B.oom (author)2009-12-13

i love how the red one glows when its turned on!

please have a look at my lamp i created over the weekend

>Chinese take out lamp<

surfturf (author)2009-12-08

Its a uite "steep learning curve" here from unpacking the lamps to Print out the appropriate page(s) of the template PDF". Maybe you should present the pdf:s and the usege of those holes earlier? Good idea though. I WILL make this one..

kronflux (author)2009-12-05

aw crap not roller mines again.. >,>

rewena (author)2009-08-03

cooool!!! can u just get a light bulb and hard paper around the light bulb like the ones in the starbucks bathroom on ocean gate hey that gave me an idea for an instructable!!!!

imrobot (author)rewena2009-11-11

post it!

tokechamp (author)2009-10-02

fantastic easy way to build a great designer lamp and i builed it in red NAJZ

GETLOST (author)2009-08-28

it was really cool, but I have a question. what colored lamps did he use in the picture of the Instructable(the orange one). dono, but I read somewhere in comment section it was a red base and white shade. if so, is there ne way I can buy the shade and the base by them self from ikea? thnx in advance :) p.s. im new to the hole instuctable thing; sorry for being anooyyyyiiiing.

LePyro (author)2009-08-27

Dude they look like rollermines from half-life 2!

aadjan (author)2009-08-27

And here is big one: a no92 (it's even interactive!). Took a bit more work than say a no12. or even a no32. There is an internal supporting frame inside otherwise the poor lampans would crush each other and the lamp would not look particularly spherical.
There is a more info on this page:
(Image credits: Walter Aprile)

Bobvanvelzen (author)2009-08-15

This is mine, This instructable really helped allot! I hope you like it, I sure do. Thanks, Bob

missus_s (author)2009-07-23

I probably don't have the skills to build one of these, but I must say that I'm glad i came across it. I saw these little lamps at IKEA, but the warm plastic smell plus enclosed bulb worried me about fire hazards. However, just one would be perfect for a little space that needs light in my house. Knowing you successfully built lamps with multiples, i.e., without burning down your house, is just the push I needed to go get one of these cute little lamps. Thanks!

200412375 (author)2009-07-19

SWEET, very Brilliant.

quoa (author)2009-05-19

My boyfriend and I just finished building our own dodecahedron lamp! It really looks great - now I just need to find some cheap energy-efficient bulbs. We put a bunch of 40 Watt incandescent bulbs in it just to see how it looks, and it's seriously bright and very, very hot. I'm thinking 7 Watt bulbs will be okay. Thanks for the tutorial!

p996911turbo (author)2008-02-28

This is simply awesome. I'm seriously considering building either a 12 or 32 lamp version. If I was crazy enough to build the 32 lamp version (and I'm pretty crazy...), would it actually fit in my house? Roughly what is its diameter? For that matter, how big is the 12 lamp one?

daan (author)p996911turbo2008-02-29

The 12 version has a diameter of about 75 cm and the 32 version about 95 cm. The 32 version pushes the limit: it is quite heavy and I'm not certain that it is suitable for hanging.

Mr. Lemon (author)daan2009-05-15

dude i built the 32 it has been in my room for over a year

HeidiJJJJ (author)Mr. Lemon2009-05-18

Post a pic?

p996911turbo (author)daan2008-03-01

Yeah, reality has gripped my now disappointed mind, and I've realised that the 32 lamp version has a few downsides: 1) It won't fit through my doors - I'd have to build it in the room I want it to hang in... 2) 32 Lampan lamps in this country will cost me AU$254.40 and I'd have to buy 32 bulbs too... 3) With 32 bulbs I'll be constantly replacing them unless I go for LEDs ($$$) I think the 12 lamp version is a serious bet though. I can afford it, it still looks awesome, it fits through doors and 12 bulbs isn't completely insane (just a bit crazy). Would it cast enough light to fully light a large room or would it be more of a decorative chandelier that needs lamps to provide the useful lighting? Obviously that's dependent on the bulb used and colour of the shade. So let's say the white shades and a 7W CFL.

daan (author)p996911turbo2008-03-02

i think the 12 is the best, it's a real polyhedron and the curves of the lamps make a nice smooth sphere inside.

1) well, you could remove the shades, than the 32 version becomes about 70cm, that should fit?
2) I bought these energy saving bulbs also from Ikea. They feel kind of sturdy and they cost about the same as a Lampan in Holland, so for me the 12 version was about 60 euro plus some tie-wraps and connectors.

I now fit all the lamps with those 5w ( 20 Watt equivalent ) energy saving bulbs; see this picture to get an idea:

btw the 32 version (with an equivalent of 640 Watt !!) is the only light i need in my living room. :D.

p996911turbo (author)daan2008-03-02

The temptation to build a 32 lamp version is still strong, but at the very least I'll do a 12 lamp version first. That photo looks really really good. It looks like you've struck a good balance with a usable amount of but still subtle enough to look nice. I think I'll aim for 5W CFLs to attempt to match that. Thanks for all your advice!

Although it took me many months, I finally got around to building a 12 lamp. It looks damn good! Turns out 12 of the 7W CFLs from my local lighting store is enough to light the room and the hallway and it visible from outside the house through our light curtains… Here's a picture of it.

andu (author)p996911turbo2009-03-30

The 12-lamp version that I built had a diameter of 85cm. It fills the corner of a room surprisingly well!

horrible_consequences (author)2009-04-14

I so owe you money

blugyblug (author)2009-03-31

That first picture seriously makes it look like a fireball or a huge lava lamp or something...

kmcgladr (author)2009-02-23

Three hours of my life are now gone, and I've been using the recommended "butt splice" connectors and a continuity tester from the Home Depot. I get to the last wire, the absolute last wire, the one that'll connect to the wall outlet. The left prong produces a test light on all twelve lights. The right prong produces a test light on six of the twelve lights. A wire has come loose. Somewhere, buried in the home-made electrical tape & butt splice jacket, a wire has come loose. Switching to soldering. I don't know how many new skills I'm learning, but this is certainly a character building experience. With the solder, I'm also less likely to worry about living with a lamp that might one day burn the apartment down.

Fasteners (author)2009-01-19

yeah that is so cool!

pedrotome (author)2008-09-13

Could you show us a simulated (Maya) 120-lampan lamp?
That would be awesome.
BTW, I love the concept. 5*

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