Introduction: Convert Old Oil Lamps to Electricity

We have a cottage that's been in the family for nearly a half century. In the early years there was no electricity, so all lighting was from various kerosene/oil lamps. They throw a nice soft light, but weren't always ideal and definitely a fie hazard if you weren't careful.

My favourite was the Aladdin lamp. These were very sexy looking with a long glass chimney. They burned real bright, but were very finicky. You had to trim the tube wick with a special tool. If there was even a single strand out of place the whole wick would flare in flame and in a moment there would be flames leaping the full length of the chimney, which would instantly turn black with soot and fill the room with smoke. Also the chimneys were delicate and prone to chipping and breaking if you looked at them sideways. But they sure did throw a nice glow when they worked.

Then there was the old fashioned kerosene lamps. They weren't as high maintenance as the aladdin lamps, but theyd didn't throw as much light, and the room always smelled of kerosene. You also had to be careful around them that you didn't knock them over.

About ten years ago we moved over to solar power and now the whole cottage (with the exception of the stove and hot water tank) run on electricity, so all the old lamps were put into "deep storage."

A few years ago I thought I would convert one of the many Aladdin lamps to electricity. I still wanted them to have the look and feel of a gas lamp rather than a lamp with an electric light in it. More lamps followed.


Most of what you need is readily available at Home Depot or a lamp store and inexpensive. You need a lamp cord (with a thumb switch attached), a light socket - i used a two pin version to go with the lights I had, but you could use an E12 candelabra light socket, and finally a light to match the socket. The good news about lights are they come in all sorts of voltages, so you can use 220v if you're in Europe, 110v for North American (and some parts of Asia) or even 12v! The lights come in all different temperatures, and some even look like flames. You can order the lights online on eBay or AliExpress. You can get them in different wattages. You might want the higher wattages if you're going to want it for more than mood. I also had a couple of diffusers left over from an old bathroom light that came in handy.

Step 1: Feeding the Cord Into the Lamp

When it comes to placing the cord, there is no one solution fits all. For the aladdin lamps,I drilled a hole opposite the wick turner and fed the cord in that way and came up through the center. The socket fit nicely. With the kerosene lamps no two were the same. One thing you must be careful of is to make sure that your connections are will insulated. The metal fittings where you drill through are sharp and can cut through thin insulation causing a short, so insulate well.

Step 2: Choosing the Light

with just the LED light, the effect is okay, but with the Aladdin lamps I left the diffuser screwed to the socket and left a new mantle on the lamp. The light shining through was very authentic. I tried one of the "flame" lamps and while it was okay, I didn't find the effect really believable, and the light level was low,.

I just left the LED light uncovered in the kerosene lamps and you can see the effect is not bad. I've converted about six lamps and have them placed throughout the cabin and bunkhouse. Everyone seems to enjoy them and it brings back the old flavor of "roughing it."

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