Torchiere Light Misbehaving?




Using too much power? Creating too much heat? Stopped working? In general being a bit of a fire hazard as well as making you feel guilty for pulling more than your fair share of electricity from the power grid?

Mod it with a compact fluorescent light (CFL)!

As nice as they are (and that's pretty nice), many torchiere lights use 300 watt halogen bulbs. They also generate lots of excess heat. With this mod, you can replace the 300 watt halogen bulb with a 25 watt CFL. This will improve the efficiency several times over. Plus, the CFL generates less heat, so air conditioners won't have to work as hard in the summertime.

As a bonus, the light will no longer be a fire hazard.

As an extra bonus, if just 1 million American households do this mod, there will be so many wattages saved, it will too many for me to count, wait, perhaps I can count it ... 1 million x 275 watts x 1 hour per day = 275 million watt hours every day. Or in more common parlance, 275,000 kilowatt hours. And that's assuming that there is only one light used for only one hour in only 1 million households. It's likely much more than that. Plus, there is a significantly smaller amount of heat generated -- less heat for the AC system to deal with. Now, is there someone out there smart enough to quantify the amount of electricity saved due to lower air conditioning loads?

Here's a related instructable that I found AFTER I made this one. Really.

Step 1: Parts and Tools

You will need a torchiere light. I like to use the older style that has an on/off switch instead of a dimmer switch. You can even use one that has stopped working since the most likely point of failure is the halogen bulb-to-socket connection. The dimmer-switch style may not be very friendly to compact fluorescent lights (CFL). If you do use a dimmer-style, always turn it up to full power, or better yet, use a "dimmer-compatible" CFL. (Note, according to using a non-dimmable CFL in a dimmable fixture is hazardous.)

Part list:

Indoor/outdoor pigtail lamp holder (about $2)
Two wire nuts
Two cable ties
Electricians tape (don't get the cheap stuff)
Compact fluorescent light (CFL)

Tools list:

Phillips screwdriver
Wire cutters
Utility knife

Step 2: Hack the Light


Remove the halogen bulb and the metal heat shield. Cut the two wires close to the bulb holder. Tug on them gently to obtain a little more length. You now have what I call "bulb holder pigtails".

Step 3: Install the Lamp Holder

Strip off about 1/2" of insulation from the lamp holder pigtails and the bulb holder pigtails. Connect the lamp holder pigtails to the bulb holder pigtails using the wire nuts. Twist the wires together before screwing on the wire nuts.

CAUTION: Attaching the wire nuts correctly is very important. Life threatening voltages and fire danger will be present if not done correctly. If you don't know how to use wire nuts correctly, consult with a professional or expert to learn how to do it safely.

After connecting the wire nuts (and tugging them to insure they won't fall off later), tape them securely with electricians tape. Do a really good job to prevent later problems.

Use the cable ties to secure the lamp holder to the light structure. Then, replace the heat shield to conceal the wire nut connection -- this is very important! If the wire nuts fail, then the metal heat shield will prevent injury or fire danger.

Always remember to treat your CFL's with respect. Don't break them and don't dispose of them in household trash. If broken, you must use special cleaning procedures. For disposal, take them to a recycler.

Now, go and enjoy all the benefits of your CFL Torchiere lights -- nice, diffused, reflected light. Tell all your friends. Ahhh, life is good.



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    14 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

    nice idea. how well concealed is the clunky cfl bulb in the shallow dish of the torchiere? (i'm not all that tall so that might help) they make light sockets with a little L bracket that's bendable... you could probably get that on the center nut to keep it more rigid than the ziptie? right behind me i have that steel racking with g4 towers just like in your picture -- i better do the mod!

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the complements. Last time I looked, I was able to find CFL's that are a little smaller than before. So concealing them should be more or less possible. If you get ambitious, and try to install more than two CFL's, then that's a different story. There is room for lot's of improvement with this design. A cable-tie works, but a metal L-bracket would be better. I do like the all-weather bulb holder though, it's all rubbery and cushioned like that. I'd like to try a three-CFL or even a four-CFL just to see if it's possible. I'd also like to try an LED bulb in a year or two when they cost less $$. One thing to keep in mind though, most torchiere lights have a dimmer switch. CFL bulbs don't like dimmer switches. I recommend replacing the dimmer switch with a simple on/off switch. There's a later instructable similar to this one where they DO replace the dimmer switch. Yeah, I also like racks of G4's -- G5's even better, bet use what we have.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I just did a halogen to CFL conversion with my torchiere. I replaced the halogen with two 60w CFL's. I used this instructable and another similar instructable. Took me about 15 easy minutes. Thanks for the idea and great instructable!

    Just in case you didn't already know, they make fluorescent torchieres that use the big 2C & 2D bulbs and are almost as bright as the halogen ones. They're a bit dimmable. If you're going to buy a new torchiere, they're definitely the thing to get.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    ahahaha, I dunno why, but I thought that you were going to replace the pole of the lamp with those long tube florescents! But, I didn't know those things had halogens on top! that's not a fire hazard...

    4 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I've seen the fire hazard of halogens in person. Someone I knew tried to dim his light by sticking some clothing over it. I didn't know it was a halogen and so we went with it. a minute later the rooms filled with smoke and we're dealing with the flaming underwear. I can just see bugs catching on fire with those things. Halogens are great, just they get really hot... and if not used carefully are a huge hazard.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Sadly, that was one of my favorite pastimes, we'd sit out on the porch with a torchiere on and watch the puffs of smoke as moths and whatnot got to close to/fell into the intense light.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Almost anything that is hot will do this though, and anything that gets very warm will get way hotter if you put insulating undies over it! Even a regular light bulb or a regular bulb replacement fluorescent will get hot enough to cause problems if you block the air flow. And never dump your clothes on the floor on top of your power strip with a couple of wall warts in it, as it might burn things!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Hey Vertigo666, I like your instructable! Great topic. I did a search for some common terms before doing my writeup, but somehow missed yours. Anyway, it just goes to show what a great idea this is. Great minds think alike Halogen torchiere lights pull gobs of power from the nations power grid. This simple mod will defeat the halogen hegemony ;-) Go CFL!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    It would be nice to see a picture of the final lamp (from the top) with the heat shield in place. Great Instructable.

    1 reply