Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

[Solved] How do you make a lamp work properly in a colder-than-ideal room?

Last October I received a lava lamp for my birthday. It's a european model - the globe is 20cm tall and it's powered by a 30W 240V reflective light bulb in E14 R39 size.

The instructions on the box say that it works best in room temperatures of 20-25 deg. C. And last October it was working great (I can put a video on Youtube if you want). On average, about 6 blobs of wax were moving around different parts of the globe at any given time.

The thermometer on my wall was indicating a room temp. of 21 deg. C. I also managed to measure the outside temperature of the glass globe with an infrared thermometer and it was abot 54 deg. C when operating.

Now that it's December and the room temperature has fallen to 17 deg. C, the lamp seems to have trouble warming up fully. After 6 hours of running, the best it can do is produce two big blobs that make it halfway up the globe and start to fall back down, separating into smaller blobs in the process. Using the same infrared thermometer, the globe's outside temperature is now only 51 deg. C.

Is there anything I can do to make it work like it should? I've checked the bulb and the glass is still as clear as when it was new. Also, the lamp is right next to my wooden cupboard and far away from any windows or draughts. Today I tried slightly unscrewing the bulb in its holder to bring it upwards a few mm closer to the globe. Still waiting to see if it has any effect.

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Its quite clear that the best thing you can do to get it flowing is to bring the room to average room temp (21 deg C) if you can - the lamp should be flowing ok if the room is warmer.

Ok, I agree that it is the best solution, but not really doable in my case because it would need quite a bit of heating and running a 3kW heater for 8 hours would cost quite a bit with Malta's electricity rates - the equivalent of $10.42 per day in US currency :)

Can you think of some other way?

Higher wattage bulb.

I thought about that. Is it safe to use a 40 watt bulb in a lamp that came with a 30W bulb?

Pair it up with another lamp, if you have say 3 of the same size running close to each other the share their heat and run correctly.  I run a very temperamental 20oz between 2 52oz lamps in my front window all summer long, it is the only way I can make that 20oz flow in the winter, some lamps just need friends

You can try 

1. Put it in a corner. 

2. Pair up with another lamp in a corner.

3. Put it under a shelf in the corner.  

i.e. They have these nifty lil corner shelfs you can buy that will stick into the wall in various ways. 

This could create a heat bubble and "may" help with it. 

If that doesn't help putting in a bookshelf shelf could possibly create the heat buildup needed. 

Not sure how long it would run without overheating though. 

4. Higher wattage bulb with a dimmer switch attached will provide a dial in solution that can be used in any season. 

A lot of good suggestions, thank you. I'm starting at the easiest and working my way up to the most difficult :)

So, I've been looking at putting a 40W bulb in place of the 30W one, but after some measuring, I've concluded that a 40W bulb with the same E14 base is not going to fit without some major surgery on the base of the lamp!

I wonder - if I construct some sort of transparent cylinder around the lamp (for example one made of the thin plastic that comes in long rolls about a meter wide, usually used for covering books) - is that likely to work? Maybe the cylinder might trap some warm air around the lamp and help it?

That sounds like a good idea - it would probably work, also with that idea it would be worth experimenting with part covering the cylinder, as heat rises you don't want too much heat to escape out of the top.

I was giving it some thought. Making a neat cylinder out of flat sheets of plastic isn't easy. I was going to use a rectangular piece for the side and cut a circle for the "lid" - and stick everything together with tape, or better yet staples in case it gets a little warm.

I tried changing the bulb type since I couldn't get an E14 to fit. So I managed to stuff in a 12 volt MR16 halogen of the 50W variety. Unfortunately the only ones I could find have a dichroic reflector so some of the heat goes downwards into the holder instead of upwards into the lamp...

I'm using a DC-to-DC converter I had lying around as a dimmer. Currently have it set to 40W and lamp has been warming up for 30 minutes. Will report my progress after it's had time to warm up :)

The halogen didn't work. Well, it did, but stuffing a 50W bulb into a space designed for 30W of lightbulb isn't a good idea. I had to turn it off after 2 hours because the plastic of the original lamp holder was starting to smell faintly burnt.

So then I came up with a good idea for an inexpensive lava-lamp sized cylindrical cover. I used a transparent 2.5 liter water bottle! I just cut off the bottom with a knife and scissors, then put it on the lava lamp, cap resting on the metal cap of the lamp. Instant success!

The lamp would normally take 3 hours to warm up - now with the bottle covering it, it actually warmed up fully in 2 hours! And by 3 hours it was starting to get too hot (measured 58 degrees C - it normally goes up to 55C in warm weather) so I took off the bottle and it's cooled to 53C.

I can post a picture of the setup if anyone's interested.

A good and simple idea, I hope the lamp holder is not too damaged.

I would like to see a picture of it so if you can uplode it then that would be good.

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