How to Heat a Spinning Lamp Shade

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Rotation of the turbine is propelled by wind.
Rotation of the turbine is propelled by wind. (Image: turbine 1 image by Udo Ingber from Fotolia.com)

Spinning shade lamps are novelty lighting fixtures with a rotating lamp shade. The top of the shade is formed in the shape of a turbine. The shade's rotational movement is propelled by a subtle breeze. No fan is needed to propel the shade. A convection current, caused by heating the air in the shade, moves upward, providing the breeze. The air is heated simply by turning on the light.

Inspect the lamp. Without plugging in the lamp, check to see if the shade spins freely by manually spinning the attached shade. The shade should rotate without significant friction or impediment. It may be necessary to remove the finial that secures the shade to the wire harp and clean the post or bushing on which the lampshade rotates. Silicone or graphite lubricant is sometimes used to reduce friction between moving parts.

Remove the shade. Screw an incandescent bulb into the lamp's socket. The higher the wattage rating for the incandescent bulb, the more heat and stronger convection current it produces. Lower-wattage incandescent and fluorescent bulbs may not produce enough heat for a convection current powerful enough to propel the lampshade.

Reassemble the lamp and make sure the shade is plumb. Plug in the lamp and turn it on. Depending on the wattage of the light bulb and the weight of the lampshade, the heat generated by the bulb should cause the shade to begin spinning in moments. If the heat generated by the light bulb is insufficient to turn the shade, turn off the lamp and install a higher-wattage light bulb.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not exceed the manufacturer's light-bulb wattage recommendation.

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