Convert a Tea Light Lantern to Compact Fluorescent




Introduction: Convert a Tea Light Lantern to Compact Fluorescent

Do you like the tea light lanterns that you see at your local IKEA (or or other home living warehouse-type store...), but:
1) don't want to fuss with wax spills from tea lights?
2) don't want to leave an open flame inside?
3) want more light than a tea light can give?
If so, read on! In this instructable, I'll show you how to take a tea light lantern and make a great compact fluorescent lamp!

Step 1: Gather Your Tools/Materials

This is sooooo easy. Assuming that you have the tools, you can get every thing else at just two stores. Note that you don't actually need the step drill, but they are so useful with sheet metal drilling that I really recommend getting one. Note that the glass in a tea light lantern is not meant for much heat, plus all of the electrical hardware will be ABOVE the bulb, so DO NOT use an incandescent bulb. Also, we'll be working with 120V power to make our lamps, so if you are unsure, get some help from a friend.

Hand Drill
1/8" (or similar) drill bit
Sheet Metal Step Bit (or a 7/16" drill bit)

Tea Light Lantern (I am using a "Roterra" from IKEA)
C7 Compact Fluorescent bulb (I am using an E12 "Sparsam" from IKEA)
Chandelier Bulb Socket
Lamp Hardware Kit
Rotary Thumb Switch
Electrical Cord

Step 2: Assemble the Socket Hardware

Screw the hollow bolt into the bulb socket (the fastener side, not the bulb side!). Then lock it in position with the lock washer, followed by the nut.

Step 3: Prepare the Lamp and Assemble the Socket

Next, drill a 1/8" pilot hole in the top of your lantern. Then open it up to 7/16" with a step drill. Although step drills are self-starting, I do recommend a pilot hole with sheet metal as thin as you find in these lanterns.

Then, slide the threaded tube from your lamp hardware kit onto the cord, pass the cord down through the top of the lamp, through the hollow bolt fastened to your chandelier bulb assembly, and knot it. Leave ~5cm (2") after the knot. This knot is what is going to support the lamp, and although I didn't have one, you really should add a grommet between the knot and the metal in the chandelier socket fr safety's sake.

Split the cord in two after the knot and strip 15mm of insulation from the ends of the wires. Fasten the wires to the terminals on the socket (one to one side, the other to the other side...).

Congratulations, you're now done the hardest part of this project!

Step 4: Attach Socket to Lantern

Insert the socket assembly into the hole that you drilled in the lantern's top and tighten the threaded tube down on it. If you use pliers, use a piece of cloth between the jaws and the threaded tube to avoid scratching it up.

Step 5: Assemble the Switch

I suppose that this part is optional, but since my lantern is for a bedside reading light, I wanted a switch on the cord. If you're really lucky, the cord that you scrounged will already have one attached!

Begin by separating the two halves of the cord over a 2.5cm (1") length, and cut about 1cm (1/2") out of one of the cords. Next, remove the screw from your rotary switch. There will be a pair of grooves in each end of the switch housing that does not include the thumb wheel. Seat the cord in them so that the cut side is towards the middle. Reassemble the switch, and the contacts from the switch will cut into the insulation of the cut wire and make the connections for you.

Step 6: First Light!

I highly recommend using a multimeter set to resistance to measure the resistance between each of the plug's prongs and the lantern body to check for short circuits (flick the switch and repeat). If you find one, DO NOT TURN THE LAMP ON!!! Even if it works, the metal will be "live" and dangerous. Instead, disassemble the lamp, look for nicks in the cord or loose wires.

If you didn't find any shorts, screw in your bulb, close the door and plug in your lamp. If you didn't have a grommet like me and plan to hang this lamp by its cord, knot the coord to the handle on the top of the lantern as strain relief, and then go out and buy a grommet! If you are going to use a lantern other than the Roterra, make sure that it has some holes in the top to vent any heat from the bulb.

Enjoy your new, brighter, safer lantern!

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    5 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    What would be neat is to USB the lantern with color changing LEDS and frost the glass to use with your desktop computer! :D

    Hey, I linked to this in my Quasicrystal Star Lantern , I had a vague thought of using a tealight holder but it wasn't until I saw this that I thought of including that possibility in my instructable, thanks for sharing ! 


    10 years ago on Introduction

    American wiring scares me, The metalwork really should be grounded if anyone from the rest of the world does this..

    Also the live on the power cable should go to the centre of the lampholder, the neutral to the outside, and the switch should be cut into the live wire. On that horrid single inulated cable I think the standard is that the one with ridges on it is neutral (It has been on all the novelty lamps I have bought off eBay and then rewired when they got here to make them safe)

    Did you consider entering the lamp from underneath? I am guessing the length of the holder and bulb would put the light source part of it too high in the glass area. Also since the handle is still there some chain would be pretty cool on it.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Most bedside lamps, etc., aren't grounded even if they're made of metal. But they do have double insulated wiring.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't put the light in the bottom because this is to be used as a hanging lantern.  Plus, it has a more 'gas light' look to it if you can't really see the bulb.  It turns out that the faux wrought iron shelf brackets from IKEA have little hooks on their ends, and the lamp looks right at home hanging from one.  Also, the proportions are just about perfect if you have the bracket's long edge to the wall (they can be mounted either way) and don't use a chain - I tried it both ways...

    As for safety, many places of the world do not include ground lines in their indoor electrical cords.  I realize that ideally, one would want to ground the frame, but even if the frame were to short to one of the wires, touching it would not hurt you.  You would have to touch both the frame and a grounded object at the same time.  If both wires were to short to the frame, then it simply would blow a breaker or a fuse at the panel.  All of that being said, if someone is unsure about their electrical skills, they should not be working with mains AC.