Picture of Ceiling Fan Pull Chain Nightlight

To skip to the videos of the nightlight in action, click here!

Update: I received many complaints about the aesthetic quality of the pull chain nightlight's installation and several suggestions that I should place the circuit in the diffuser bowl. Well I'm pleased to announce that I've reworked this project to keep the circuitry out-of-sight and make the pull chain wiring look better. Steps 1 through 5 describe the rework as if I started from scratch, and steps 7 through 10 are the original instructable.

The primary source of illumination for my bedroom is a ceiling fan lamp. Most of the time I use the wall switch to turn the light on and off, but sometimes I'm closer to the pull chain switch so I'll use it instead. The trouble is the pull chain can be impossible to find in the dark; sometimes I'll find it right away but other times I'll flail my whole arm around feeling like an idiot trying to locate it. So I decided to hack apart a solar powered garden light and use its LED to make the pull chain's handle glow. When the garden light circuit detects the ceiling fan lamp is off it powers the LED with a battery. The circuit also recharges the battery when the lamp is on via a solar cell.

lfthomson013 years ago
Good job!
This is pretty low-volt stuff. Telephone cross-connect (red/white) is fun, but I would be you could achieve a little more elegance in this solution with ultra-thin urethane varnished copper wire.
yardleydobon (author)  croastedchicken3 years ago
That is an interesting suggestion. Don't you think the pulling motion would wear away the varnish though.

I'm currently working on an updated version where I put the circuitry in the diffuser bowl. So look out for it!
adcurtin3 years ago
If you drilled a hole (or fit them thorugh an existing hole) in the metal at the bottom of the light shade, and put the solar panel at the top of the fixture inside (where the silver foil type stuff is), then it would have almost no effect on the outside appearance, nor on the light given off, and would still function almost the same (you might consider putting the battery on the other side of the foil / insulation, as I bet it gets pretty hot inside that lamp shade).
static3 years ago
Many if not most fan/light installation are controlled by wall mounted light switches, and that may be why manufacturers don't design in light pulls. Lighted wall switches are a readily available item. A clever idea,and a good instructable. Good luck in the contest.
dwhite03 years ago
Where would I find the translucent handle?
yardleydobon (author)  dwhite03 years ago
Found it! I'm not the one that purchased it and I've had it for years but I'm fairly certain this is it.

Harbor Breeze Brushed Nickel Ceiling Fan Pull Chain (Item #: 101858 | Model #: FP5)
CS1553 years ago
A+ for ingenuity. F- for aesthetics. Would depend on the fan/light assembly but a larger fan/light enclosure could potentially house all the parts without creating a shadow.

Nonetheless, I agree with the other posters. This is a fantastic idea.
you could always use led bulbs
+100 points if you could thread the wire through the glass, and stash the solar cell in such a way that it lives inside the dome, without making a shadow on the glass.
Coat hanger + hot glue maybe?
Otherwise, an amazing and beautiful project. I'd even consider manufacturing them.
yardleydobon (author)  falcotheimpaler3 years ago
Thanks very much!
In all seriousness, you could make a crapload of money off of this if you managed to market it. Even if you just sold kits it would help. Amazing project man.
yardleydobon (author)  falcotheimpaler3 years ago
Putting it inside the bowl was my original plan, but I had difficulty figuring out how I should place it in there and how to run the wire to it. Plus I thought it'd be a fire hazard putting it so close to the hot light bulbs. Thanks for bringing that up I'll edit the instructable to explain my reasons for placing it on the outside of the bowl.
Use CFL bulbs. master mode: crack open a CFL bulb, and wire up a ~5v output.