What are my options for using my Turkish lamp in the U.S.?
December 9, 2013 5:49 PM   Subscribe

I bought a lamp from a 220V part of the world and brought it back to the U.S. I'd like some advice on the easiest way to use it here.

The lamp looks almost identical to this one. A close-up of the partially disassembled head is here.

I'd planned to get a voltage converter (like this one maybe), but after a google search I realized that they're a little more expensive than I'd anticipated.

Ideally I would like to remove the existing socket and plug (right now it has an E14 bulb socket and what I think is a type C plug) and replace them with American standards. And if I'm understanding the answers to this previous question correctly, it sounds like I would need to replace the wire as well.

However, I'm a complete electricity noob and I really don't know what this kind of project would entail. So I'm looking for (1) your advice on whether this kind of thing is reasonably doable or whether I should just suck it up and buy a voltage converter, and (2) if doable, then any instructions, tips, or tricks for this project.

I would welcome any other ideas for using the lamp in the U.S. No suggestion is too obvious; I really am a noob.
posted by Paul the Octopus to Technology (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Why not pick up a lamp rewiring kit at a hardware store or online?

This should make it easy to replace the socket, the plug, and the wires, assuming the lamp was half-decently designed and fabricated.

This is also a good time to pick up a recepticle tester to check your house's wiring, and a multimeter to check your work once you've rewired your lamp. (That part's kind of unnecessary if the lamp rewiring kit is made competently, but is a good occasion to help you build up your handy*man-fu and be confident in what you're doing.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:12 PM on December 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

And if you're not comfortable rewiring it yourself, I would guess that most local antique shops and lamp shops can do it for you for a fee, or refer you to someone who can.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:13 PM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Well, you could always just buy E14 bulbs for it and use a plug adapter. If you're uncomfortable doing any wiring, that would probably work fine as long as the lamp doesn't have any electronics in it (which it probably doesn't). Otherwise it's a simple matter to change out the plug and the lamp socket, you can buy those at the hardware store no problem and it usually doesn't take more than some wire clippers and a screwdriver.
posted by Scientist at 7:12 PM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lamps are very simple devices. Replace the plug with a US plug [or use an adapter]. Fit with a 110V bulb. That's all there is to it.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 7:20 PM on December 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for your responses. So it would work just to use a E14 bulb and a plug adapter? I was under the impression (from the previous question linked above) that I would need to replace the wiring, since the lamp was designed for a 220V environment. Is that not the case?
posted by Paul the Octopus at 8:26 PM on December 9, 2013

Best answer: Chances are it's just a plug, a switch, and some wire going to a socket. If that's the case, then a new plug and a 110V globe should be all you need.

If there are any electronics you will need a voltage adaptor or to replace the guts of it, but this looks unlikely. If the wire is very thin, or the switch is underrated for the current (measured in amps) then you will need to replace them too. I'd think the switch would be the most likely thing to be problematic, but it should be fine as long as you use a low wattage globe.

If you put an LED fitting in, it will draw so little power that the wire and switch should be well within their ratings.
posted by mewsic at 8:28 PM on December 9, 2013

Best answer: Listen to HiroProtagonist.

All the advice in the other thread about needing to change lamp wiring to allow for the fact that a 60W 110V lamp draws twice as much current as a 60W 220V lamp is based on an incorrect assumption: that a light fixture's maximum wattage rating will be based on the maximum current its wiring is designed for. That's not the case.

Maximum wattage ratings for light fixtures are based not on the wiring size, but on the expected heating power of the bulb installed in the fixture. That heating power depends completely on the bulb's wattage and energy efficiency and is independent of the lamp's operating voltage, provided only that the bulb (as opposed to the fixture) is operating at the voltage it was designed for.

The wires used in light fittings always have a sufficiently large conductor diameter to put their maximum safe current rating well above anything a bulb will ever draw; compared to the heat generated in the bulb itself, the heat generated in the wiring is always negligible.

Only once operating currents get up to maybe 10 amps does wiring gauge start being something worth paying attention to. A lamp fixture that would draw 10 amps at 110V would need to be rated to take an 1100W bulb - and now we're talking major anti-aircraft searchlights, not domestic table lamps.

The insulation on the wiring and any terminal blocks might theoretically make a fixture designed for 110V unsafe to use on 220V, but never the other way around. However, since every country's safety standards always specify insulation breakdown voltages many times greater than the designed operating voltage for mains wiring, even this issue is unlikely ever to be important in practice.

So: don't mess about with altering the wiring. Don't even change the socket - you're unlikely to be able to physically fit an E27 bulb into a fixture designed around an E14 socket even if you do manage to fit the actual socket in there. Just buy a 110V E14 bulb.

If you intend to fit a US plug, after cutting off the European plug you'll most likely find that the wires inside the cable are coloured brown, blue and green+yellow. These are the European standard colours for hot, neutral and earth respectively.

If you don't want to mess with the existing plug - and as a total electricity noob, you probably shouldn't - a simple travel adaptor will work just fine.
posted by flabdablet at 8:36 PM on December 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: I'll get an adapter and some 110V bulbs. Thanks, everyone.
posted by Paul the Octopus at 8:45 AM on December 10, 2013

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