Can I stretch out my light bulb?
January 13, 2014 5:27 PM   Subscribe

I have a candelabra chandelier (E12) and I want to use LED bulbs in them. The problem is, the bases of the bulbs are so wide that they bottom out in the socket before the bulb's end pin can make contact with the bottom of the socket. The socket does not have a tab I can pull out, and the chandelier is made in a way that replacing the sockets does not seem very accessible. I have encountered this with two different brands of light bulbs, and looking around, it seems that it is a common problem with LED lights. So, I want to stretch out my light bulbs.

I was thinking about making a coil of copper wire and soldering it to the end of the bulb so that it touches the end circuit earlier while I'm screwing it in? Or perhaps I should use a bearing, or easiest: using a bigger blob of solder? Are there any safety risks by doing this? My thought is that as long as it does not arc and melt my solder, it should be fine, but I thought I'd ask the hive first.

I've seen light bulb socket extenders, but it would look terrible in this chandelier. Also, there are only two bulbs, and with the long life expectancy, doing this seems small enough of a task to be worthwhile.
posted by razdrez to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They make LED bulbs with a candelabra base.
posted by brujita at 5:38 PM on January 13, 2014

I belive the issue is: razdrez is using lightbulbs with a candleabra base -- the problem is that the base is not long enough, so the flare of the bottom of the bulb is making so they can't be screwed in all the way.

Is that correct?
posted by brainmouse at 5:46 PM on January 13, 2014

you can also get light bulb extenders for exactly this purpose.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:47 PM on January 13, 2014

I can imagine drawbacks to this within the realm of possibility, but I'd probably put a ball of aluminum foil in there and screw it down on top of that.
posted by cmoj at 5:47 PM on January 13, 2014

Again, from the original post: "I've seen light bulb socket extenders, but it would look terrible in this chandelier."
posted by brainmouse at 5:48 PM on January 13, 2014

Yes, brainmouse is correct. I have the correct base light bulb, but the base is not long enough to contact the end because the bulb is too wide.
posted by razdrez at 6:00 PM on January 13, 2014

Searching on Amazon and Google, I'm finding a few brands and models of LED candelabra bulbs that appear to have a much longer base than those Ikea ones you've linked. Maybe try another brand of bulb.
posted by The World Famous at 6:10 PM on January 13, 2014

Given that I've had this problem with two different bulb brands already, I'm a bit reluctant to buy yet another expensive LED bulb to find out it doesn't fit, so I'd like to do something with the ones I have right now.
posted by razdrez at 6:14 PM on January 13, 2014

Any homemade solution to this problem runs the risk of shorting the live contact in the center of the socket to the neutral contact formed by the screw thread in the socket. If you're lucky a breaker will trip. If you aren't, the socket will probably catch fire.
posted by monotreme at 6:17 PM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'd continue looking for an LED lightbulb that fits. With reductions in size, if none of them fit now there's a good chance that there will be one that fits eventually.

Altering the bulb or the socket is a safety risk. What if the blob of solder or copper wire breaks off when the bulb is removed and causes a short?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:18 PM on January 13, 2014

If you have a specialty lighting store in your area, I would talk to them. Take pictures of your candelabra, and call/email/go to the store to see if they can tell you what brand(s) might work best.
posted by rtha at 6:44 PM on January 13, 2014

You might be able to pull up the center tab in the bottom of the socket with a pair of needle nose pliers. It might just require a fraction of an inch. Sometimes this is a spring tab that can flex upwards. Your old bulbs might have mashed it down so that it doesn't stand as high as it used to.

All of the usual warnings about making sure that power if off before you stick metal things in the socket that could kill you. This means turning off the entire circuit at the breaker. Sometimes fixtures are wired incorrectly so that the fixture is hot even when the wall switch is off.
posted by JackFlash at 9:36 PM on January 13, 2014

As an electrician, I don't recommend you do this. Rigging a light fixture (or any electrical device) is risky stuff. There are electrical codes for a reason. If you have to ask how to do it, then you are taking a risk.

On the flip side, I know they make bulbs that will work. They even make conversion kits where one style of bulb can used in a different style socket.

You are creating a fire hazard in your home to save yourself a few dollars buying a light bulb.

Maybe the solution is to stop buying the light bulbs from a big box store where none of the workers know anything about lighting. Maybe you should take lots of pictures of the light. Take measurements of the socket. Then go to a specialty lighting store or an electrical supply shop.

Or, you could literally play with fire and try to rig your light.
posted by Flood at 4:29 AM on January 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Thanks all, sounds like I either need new light bulbs or modify the non-electric parts of the sockets.
posted by razdrez at 8:06 AM on January 15, 2014

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