Introduction: Giant Ceiling Light With Multiple Functionality A.k.a. the UFO

Picture of Giant Ceiling Light With Multiple Functionality A.k.a. the UFO

This giant suspended light (outer diameter 3.6 m or 142 in) has three functions:

1. Provide direct lighting for illuminating the room: the 'regular' light;
2. Provide indirect lighting illuminating the ceiling in two circular bands: atmospheric lighting;
3. Add an outlet, centrally accessible at the ceiling: practical for plugging in a beamer or other electric equipment without having cables lying around on the floor.

The lamp is shaped as a ring, stretching from wall to wall. In this specific case, the lamp encircles  a skylight. The ring itself adds design properties to the construction:

1. Instead of having multiple ceiling lights, optically the construction feels like a single lamp, which adds a quiet element to the room. This aspect is intensified by choosing a same color for the lamp as the ceiling has (white in this case);
2. All cabling is hidden above the construction. This eases the construction but also adds to a well finished look of the lamp;
3. The ring gives room for integrating switches by which the lights and the integrated outlet can be controlled independently, as well as a dimmer-switch for reducing the light intensity. A main wall switch is still present for switching the lamp on an off. 

The design, the making, the finishing and the installation of this ceiling light has taken a few days in total. The final result was to everyone’s satisfaction. A lot of work, but worth the effort. 

The next steps discuss safety issues (Step 1), detailed design features and installing (Step 2) and licensing (Step 3).

Step 1: Safety

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The following issues are important with respect to safety:

1. Risk of fire: use bulbs and lamps that do not get warm, for example LEDs, low-energy light bulbs or fluorescent lamps. Do not use conventional light bulbs for two reasons: the heat they generate and their low energy efficiency;
2. Risk of electrical shock: integrate complete and closed fittings into the construction for maximum electrical safety and heat resistance;
3. Risk of falling down from the ceiling: the construction may get really heavy, depending on your choice of material: make sure that the ceiling is well-suited for suspending the light. Moreover, the lamp design is not meant to hook up additional items (for example coats or tools) onto the construction. Children shouldn't swing from the lamp;
4. Health: if you use medium-density fiberboard (MDF, like in this design) volatile organic compounds are being released slowly into the room, notably formaldehyde. To prevent this, opt for MDF plates that are free from formaldehyde (not available in all local stores). Alternatively, the plate can be sealed with paint (all sides need to be covered with turpentine-based paint, since water-based paint doesn't cut off gases completely). The release of formaldehyde becomes less after waiting some time from manufacturing, so a third option is to allow vapour to escape for a few months (be sure to have the plates cut first and combine this with the second alternative);
5. Environment: if you're opting for wood and/or MDF as construction material be sure to opt for certified and labeled products ensuring socially and environmentally responsible forestry.

The next steps discuss detailed design features and installing (Step 2) and licensing issues (Step 3).

Step 2: The Design of the Giant Ceiling Light and Installing It

Picture of The Design of the Giant Ceiling Light and Installing It

The main construction material for this lamp is MDF plate with 12 mm (0.47 in) thickness. This thickness was chosen as a middle course between stiffness (one wouldn't like to construction to wear out over time) and weight (a heavy construction makes it more difficult to lift the lamp and increases the risk of it falling down from the ceiling). Total weight of the assembled construction may easily approach 80 to 100 kg (176 to 220 lb).

Dimensions of the finished lamp are: outer circle approximately 3.6 m (142 in) and inner circle approximately 2.2 m (87 in). The ring width is thus approximately 0.7 m (28 in).

The ring consists of four MDF plates (standard size in Europe is 2.44 x 1.22 m or 96 x 48 in), initially arranged in a square, leaving the inner space empty. For making the perfect circle use a cord and a pencil. The cord is fixed in the center of the plates (use an auxiliary slat to fix a screw or mail in the center point) and the inner and outer circle are drawn using the pencil which is fixed to the cord to keep the distance.

Use a jigsaw and optionally a milling cutter to finish the circles.

Four beams then are attached to the plates, leaving space at the edges to integrate the lamps for the normal lighting functionality. In order make the plates nicely fit a small slat is covering the joints on the upside. The four beams have two functions: keeping a distance from the ceiling (44 x 44 mm or 1.73 x 1.73 in beams were used in this design) and distributing forces along the plates. The distance is required for realizing the effect of indirect lighting towards the ceiling, but is also comes in handy when bulbs need to be replaced: it allows to access the lights from above.

For attaching the lamp to the ceiling four heavy wedge bolts were used, which were fixed in the centers of the beams. Additionally, twelve long screws suspend the lamp. Make sure that vital parts of the construction remain accessible for maintenance without bringing down the lamp. 

In order to install the lamp it is convenient to have it completely assembled on the floor first, including all lamps, rope wires, switches, holes for fixing it and the painting.

As the lamp might be really heavy you'll need a number of people assisting for lifting the construction: four people lifting and one for fixing the screws work for this 3.6 m (142 in) diameter lamp. Less people for lifting the lamp is tricky: the construction is quite wobbly until it has been fixed to the ceiling. Alternatively you might improvise a custom-built lift for getting the lamp in place (more dangerous and more work).

Step 3: Licensing

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The concept described in this instructable is made available through a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

The construction of this lamp is mostly described in words (Step 2). If there is a demand for more detailed consultancy regarding the construction process openproducts can provide additional services, both to commercial and non-commercial parties. For contact send a Private Message through the instructables member page (https://www.instructables.com/member/openproducts)

If this design infringes any rights then refer to Article 28 in the Terms of Service (https://www.instructables.com/tos.html).

Comments

oldmicah (author)2012-09-13

Looks great. Question though. Why MDF rather than 1/4" plywood with a built up edge? I.e. is there a specific design reason or is that what you had on hand?

I use MDF for the top of my workbench. Fantastic stuff, but gads is it heavy.

openproducts (author)oldmicah2012-09-15

I opted for MDF because I wanted the edges to be rounded off using a milling cutter and expected the result with MFD to look better than with plywood. Moreover, I feared that thin plywood might sag in the course of time, as the plates are only suspended on a number of spots and there is quite some free overhang. Now, after a few years on the ceiling the lamp is still as flat as it was on the first day. But I cannot judge whether that would have been the case with 1/4" plywood as well...

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