Big Lamps From Ikea Lampan Lamps

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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.

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

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....

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86 Discussions

How could have I never thought about lamps!
Bajeesus!
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.
#Inspired
cheers!

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.

6 replies

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

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

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.

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?

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.

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.

Nice work! And heve you seen these DIY lamps? http://www.yeahmag.com/the-10-best-diy-lamps-for-you/#1

2 replies

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

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.

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

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.