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I was looking for some soft lighting for our living area that was bright enough to read by but wasn't too harsh when watching television.    Our home has plenty of downlights in the ceiling which all run from power transformers. They run LED globes and put out a decent amount of light and were an inspiration for this project. I had a great source of power from my 12V solar setup and I was keen to add some lighting powered by the sun.

Now turn that downlight upside down!

Step 1: Materials

This is fairly basic design. It all came together mostly from leftover 90mm pvc stormwater piping and fittings that are commonly used around the house. I found a downlight holder that mounts into the ceiling which fitted well into the pipe. The springs that hold the light in the ceiling bend far enough back to grip the inside of the pipe.

The materials required are:-
  • 90mm pvc pipe  (the length determines the overall height - I kept it low so it's not visible behind the recliner lounge)
  • 90mm pvc pipe coupler/joiner sleeve  (this is the perfect size for the light globe holder)
  • 90mm pvc pipe flange/surface mount  (allows the pipe to be mounted to a base)
  • timber base  (I used an offcut of pine timber beam big enough so it wont topple over)
  • a 12V LED MR16 type (I used the Phillips MasterLed which is a 10W warm white unit)
  • Ceiling downlight holder and a wiring socket for the globe
  • some twin core wiring
  • a switch and a fuse
  • 12V power source
  • screws

 

Step 2: Assembly

This lamp is very simple to put together. Holes need to be drilled in either the top or bottom to run the wiring for the light. As the LED I've used has an inbuilt fan for cooling, I added a ventilation hole at the base of the tube.

All parts can be screwed or glued together quite easily. 

Step 3: This Light Socket

The downlight holder has two spring clips on the sides which fold back to allow it to fit into a hole. In a ceiling they spring back and hold themselves from falling out. In the pvc pipe they spring back enough to hold plenty of tension inside the pipe. Be careful though because the springs are like mousetraps and can snap back on your fingers with some force!

Step 4: The Final Setup

Here is the finished product behind the recliner. It's used every night and draws approximately 800mA which even when run 8 hours a night, has very little impact on my 168 amp hour solar setup. If I was to run this on its own, I would probably opt for a single 80w solar panel with a deep cycle battery of a minimum 20 amp hours of capacity. For its size and low consumption, it lights up a 6m x 6m room sufficiently enough to read by. Uplighting is great for creating a more even spread of light. A downlight can be very harsh in a living room.

Step 5: Other Ideas

This lamp is not overly attractive to look at but can be coloured or decorated to maybe blend in with your environment. Even some gold paint for that steampunk look perhaps.

If solar isn't an option, this light can be powered by any source of 12V. I have a car jumpstarter/booster pack which has a 12V socket on the side. These lights can provide backup lighting in a blackout and can be moved where necessary, kind of like a big plastic candle!

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