Weekly Project: Cordless Lamp




Ask any interior designer to list the most despised elements of today's home furnishings and you probably won't be surprised to learn that ranking high on the list is the ubiquitous electrical power cord. In the average modern home, clean floor plans are quickly littered with power cords draped over tables, cable tripping hazards clogging room flow, and electrical wall outlets bristling with plugs, cords, and transformers.

Yes, there have been some significant improvements with wall-mounted TVs receiving both power and cable outlets out of eye view. Likewise, hollow baseboards have become cable raceways for moving cords discretely around a room's perimeter. Nonetheless, when a lamp plops on a table, a trailing power cord quickly tethers the appliance to a location firmly anchored to the case good's edge.

It's time to sever the tether. Powered portable task lighting with onboard battery systems liberate tabletops and floors from unsightly cord clutter, letting the room's main illumination come from embedded overhead lighting.

These cordless lamps, however, don't have to be campground lantern rejects repurposed for indoor use. Rather, fashionable incandescent bulb lamps can shed their two-pronged tails and accent any interior design scheme as standalone cordless lamps.

While just about any lamp can be transformed into a cordless lamp, table lamp kits from IKEA Home Furnishings are ideal for this project.


Step 1: How to Build a Cordless Lamp

Time: 2 hours
Cost: $23.23
Difficulty: Easy

Parts List

  • (1) STORM Table Lamp ($9.99; IKEA STORM)
  • (1) 5V DC to DC Step Up - 1xAA ($10.95; Spark Fun Electronics #PRT-08248)
  • (2) Bright White LED, 5mm ($.65; All Electronics #LED-121)
  • (2) 100-ohm 1/4-watt resistor ($.99/5; RadioShack #271-1311)

  • wire
  • solder
  • double-sided foam tape

Step 2: All the Best Lamps Have LED Eyes

In a previous Instructables project, a DC step up circuit demonstrated how to make 5V DC from a single AA battery. Building on that knowledge, this project utilizes a similar product from Spark Fun Electronics. Costing less than $10, this clever little device, designed by Bodhilabs.com, is housed discretely on the back of an AA battery holder.

Create a wiring harness for the two LEDs. Begin by soldering a two foot length of red wire to each end of the two current-limiting resistors. This red wire connects to the red lead (i.e., the positive, +, terminal) of the 5V DC to DC Step Up. The other end from each resistor is soldered to the anode pin from each LED. The cathode pins from the LEDs are attached to a two foot length of black wire and this wire is connected to the black lead (i.e., negative, -, terminal) of the 5V DC to DC Step Up.

NOTE: A new AA battery called USBCell is available from Moixa Energy that can be recharged via a standard USB port. Although untested, this product might be a useful companion to the 5V DC to DC Step Up product.

Step 3: Gathering a STORM

Begin the assembly of the STORM table lamp. Omit the electrical cord from the lamp's base, but keep the counterweight, washers, and nut all in place and threaded on the end of the lamp's neck. Install the 5V DC to DC Step Up inside the base. Use a small square of double-sided foam tape for holding the step up in place.

Remove the incandescent bulb socket. Insert the LEDs into the socket housing and route all wiring down through the lamp's neck to the base. Connect the red and black wires from the LED wiring harness to the respective leads on the 5V DC to DC Step Up.

Install the paper shroud over the STORM table lamp.

Step 4: Light €˜em Up

Insert an AA battery into the 5V DC to DC Step Up and adjust the placement of the LEDs for even illumination. Go ahead, take your cordless lamp and set it right smack dab in the middle of a table. No need to worry about locating a wall outlet or hiding a power cord--because it's cordless.



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    14 Discussions


    9 years ago on Step 1

    The link for the LED's wont work.. :(


    This would be a cool thing IF, solar panels were charging the battery, thus, MORE environmentally friendly! I just saw an AD for Water powered Clocks, I wonder if water powered lamps and water powered rechargeable AA battery chargers are next.... hmmm? God Bless James Doohan, he went up into space but crash landed in the mountains, he loves a good adventure!!! :D

    3 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I have a water powered clock, bit reluctant to take it apart tho, maybe I will one day...


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    it's only metal in the water! they are not powerful enough to light an led just to let you know before you ruin it!


    Yes but batteries have a limited life,Maybe a 400 farad capacitor, According to someone here,That holds about 1 amp,980 or so miliamps


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Where did the paper shroud come from? Despite the criticisms, the concept is worthy.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, pair these with a couple USBCells like Dave suggests on Page 3 and you've got yourself a fairly potent mobile desk lamp. The USB cells only take about an hour to re-charge—really handy little gadgets.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    trading an "unsightly cord" for having to use/change batteries all the time isn't exactly that great of a trade off....when you've got to get up in the middle of the night to pee...and you can't get that light to turn on because the batteries are juiced...you'll see the errors in your ways hehe maybe powering the lamp via induction...with an induction coil recessed into the top of that end table...then run the cord discreetly inside the end table...that would keep the cord out of the way, remove the need for batteries, and employ induction...which is super cool


    12 years ago on Introduction

    And exactly what is this lamp supposed to light? Other than functioning as a very dim night light for maybe an hour or so, theres not enough light for anything remotely practical.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I had an idea for this a little while ago. In fact what I was supposed to use is on my picture, but I could never find a soldering iron to put the whole thing together. One difference though is that I made a base out of an old gameboy charger that charged a battery that was hidden in the base of the lava-lamp like structure. It was sort of like Zujus' Blue Heart instructable.