Friday, 12 August 2011

Hack the SAVERN lights until they are green

Materials: SAVERN wall (1 or 2 lights) or ceiling lights, SPARSAM 9W E12 base CFL

What: modify SAVERN lights to use energy efficient CFL SPARSAM bulbs, no external changes.
Why: IKEA designers blew it on the SAVERN fixtures. The have candelabra bases perfect for those energy-efficient SPARSAM lights, and don't come packaged with the intended HALOGEN 25W bulbs. Great theory except the opening on the glass diffusers are about 3mm too small for the SPARSAM or any other 9+ W CFL to fit through (first picture). I thought about getting LEDs but at almost 10x the cost, it doesn't pay off. There are two bulb (over vanity) and three bulb (ceiling) versions of this fixture that I have modified in the same way.

Dremel or similar grinding tool with diamond or stone tip capable of grinding glass
Electric drill with bit
Screw tap (I used 8-32)
Hobby razor saw
2 pan-head machine screws matching the tap per diffuser you are modifying

1. Use saw to cut inner plastic ring (with the screw threads) of the diffuser
2. Use pliers to gently pull the inner ring out - the outer plastic ring and a gasket will now fall free from the diffuser (second picture)
3. Use grinding tool to enlarge the notch in the glass diffuser. This notch needs to be approximately the same size and shape as 1/2 the head of the machine screws (third picture). This must be done with some care so you do not crack the glass diffuser.
4. Remove the large round gasket from the fixture and place the outer ring from the diffuser in you fixture and drill holes 180 degrees apart between the ring and the bulb housing.
5. Use the tap to make screw threads in the drilled holes. I needed to grind away some of the bulb housing in order to have clearance for the tap (4th picture showing position of drilled/tapped hole).
5. Remove the outer ring and place the large round gasket in your fixture, then place the outer ring followed by the inner diffuser gasket.
6. Screw the machine screws into the tapped holes, tighten until the head is about 1mm above the bulb housing (5th picture)
7. Before installing, test fit all the parts
8. Install as per IKEA supplied instructions except for the diffuser installation portion (below). No picture is provided as the finished hack is externally not distinguishable from the unmodified fixture.

To install the diffuser, get one edge under the head of one of the screws then align the notch on the glass with second screw. Press in on the diffuser so that the head of the second screw is inside the diffuser and rotate the diffuser approximately 90 degrees. The diffuser will be held in place by the compression of the two gaskets. To remove the diffuser to replace bulbs, press in on the diffuser and rotate it until the notch is aligned with one of the screw heads. Once it is aligned, gently tilt the diffuser away that screw and it will come free easily.

Commentary - IKEA really should have designed the opening a few millimeters wider. My original plan was to remove the inner plastic ring or grind the threads and then hold the diffuser in place with a set screw on the back side of the fixture. That won't work because the set screw would need to go into the outer plastic ring on diffuser which is held in place by the inner ring... Ultimately I think my approach is a little more elegant because you can not find any external evidence of my tampering. The screws that IKEA sells for holding draw and cabinet handles would work well for this except I don't know what size tap you would have to use (they are metric screws and the packaging, nor store employees, nor the IKEA on-line help will tell you).

~ J. Ackerman, Atlanta, GA

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