Trying to build a 3-bulb lamp

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Old 06-24-11, 12:05 PM
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Question Trying to build a 3-bulb lamp

To preface, here's my knowledge of electrical systems: amperage hurts, and don't put metal objects into outlets. Okay, onto my question.

Here's what I want to do. I have 3 chinese-style paper lanterns that will be strung from the ceiling, and I want a bulb in each one. However, there is no electrical wiring in the ceiling so the lamp cord(s) will have to come back down to a regular wall socket.

Because I only want one ugly cord running down the wall instead of 3, how would you suggest I link the 3 bulbs together in one handy cord? Is it as simple as just running a cord up from each light bulb, then connecting all 3 cords to one main power cord? If I do that, are there any issues with using bulbs of various wattage, or should they all match?

You didn't know this was a 2-parter, did you?

Once I have my 3-bulb lamp all set up, I want to attach an in-line dimmer. Will this work properly if I have, say, a 25-watt bulb in one lantern, a 45-watt in the next, and a 75 watt in the main lantern?

Thanks for your help!
 
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Old 06-24-11, 01:07 PM
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I would run wires between all three of the lights and then run your supply wire off the third or first one, so that one light will have 2 wires going into it. No issue with different wattage as long as none of them exceed what is safe for the lamp per the provided rating stickers. (fire hazard otherwise). Using a dimmer is fine as long as the total maximum rated wattage is not exceeded, as it only reduces the overall voltage going to all the lamps, and in your case a standard dimmer should have a high enough wattage rating. Each different wattage bulb if you go that way will end up however with proportionately different brightness levels.
 
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Old 06-24-11, 01:37 PM
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Thanks!

..................
 
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Old 06-24-11, 04:14 PM
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Hmm,

The "Chinese paper lanterns" I am familiar with are of a light, almost tissue paper construction.
Even with low wattage bulbs you could be creating a serious fire hazard.

If you were to be able to purchase lamps like this they should be approved for this use.
 
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Old 06-24-11, 05:44 PM
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It would be very difficult to do this in a safe manner. First there is the fire hazard as Greg pointed out. Second is the splicing of wires at each lamp holder. You can't just splice and tape. I presume you are going to use "Lamp Cord" not even sure if that would be code compliant in this case.

I'd suggest using Wiremold (surface race) with surface mounted boxes and keyless porcelain lamp holders. Use individual THHN (#14 or #12) wires in the surface race, bring it down to a dimmer mounted in a surface box at switch height and terminate in an extension ring on a receptacle.

Try to find lanterns that are fire resistant. I'd probably take one outside and let it set touching a lit 60 watt bulb for a while to see what happens.

Any terms you don't understand post back.

Wire size depends on breaker supplying receptacle. #14 for 15 amp and #12 for 20 amp.
 
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Old 06-24-11, 06:27 PM
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I don't know if they are still available, but some years ago I bought C-9 size sockets that could be added to zip cord.
You simply split the zip cord where you wanted the light, positioned each leg of the zip cord to the back of the socket, and then screwed on a cap which pressed the wire into pins on the socket.
If you can find them, you could run one wire with the lights where you want them, and then use C-9 Christmas bulbs.
 
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Old 06-24-11, 06:48 PM
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Gold star you triggered my failing memory with that. I have also seen those for Edison base lamps. The C-9s though would be safer but might not give enough light.
 
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Old 06-24-11, 06:51 PM
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I don't know if they are still available, but some years ago I bought C-9 size sockets that could be added to zip cord.
They are readily available and also for C7 bulbs.

Honestly, I think that candles in the paper lanterns would be about as safe as trying to cobble up some kind of line-voltage electrical. If you were into electronics I would suggest LED lamps with a low-voltage "wallwart" power supply.
 
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Old 06-27-11, 08:33 AM
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Actually, I decided on a nylon version of the paper lantern. I'd prefer to use CFL as I do everywhere else in the house, but I've heard that even a CFL dimmer with a dimmable bulb doesn't necessarily equal success.

Goldstar, ziplines are still manufactured, but these lamps need to be able to light my living room.
 
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