Saturday, April 27, 2013

IKEA TERTIAL Work Lamp Review

You need a lamp. Here is lamp. Okay?

Throughout my entire elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schooling experience, I did my school work on a carpet in front of the television. The room was craptastically lit, I probably wrecked my back bending over so much, but somehow I made it through graduate school. What does this have to do with lamps?

Simply, I'd like to impart my wisdom upon you: get a freaking desk and a lamp. Your desk choices are endless, as are your lamp choices. In case you're looking for a really simple, but highly customizable, and cheap lamp, then direct your gaze towards the Ikea TERTIAL work lamp. It has three articulation points: one at the base, one at the middle, and one at the head. And best of all, it uses standard E26 base bulbs that are common and easy to find. The going rate is only US$8.99 -- it's not listed on the Canadian website for some reason, even though I saw a big basket of them at the store the last time I went a few weeks back.

One major note to be made is that this lamp is designed to be mounted onto a table top and does not come with a weighted base. There used to be a separate base add-on for sale, but it appears that it has since been discontinued. No problem because it's not a heavy lamp and the mount can accommodate pretty thick tables.

Ikea TERTIAL Mounting Mechanism
This is actually my second one. Don't worry, nothing went wrong with the first, it just got left over at someone else's house and because it's so cheap, I don't feel like going back to ask for it. My current lamp is fitted with a 40W (incandescent equivalent) LED bulb and is used as a backlight to my monitor. A backlight is simply a light that illuminates the rear of a monitor or screen to alleviate eye strain. Before I started using them, staring at a monitor for hours straight strained my eyes terribly. But we're focusing on the light here, so let's keep that brief. One last thing: a "40W" bulb is overkill for a backlight, but I wanted my "25W" bulb elsewhere, so...
Ikea TERTIAL as Backlight


1 Ikea TERTIAL Work Lamp (US$8.99)


The lamp was packaged in a plastic bag with no protection at the store -- it was like this with my first TERTIAL from years ago too. Unlike the GORM shelves though, I have not noticed damaged product at the store in the bin area. It came folded with the springs unhinged. My job was to reattach the hinges, twist the shade on, and attach the table mount securely to a table. I attached my lamp to a GALANT desk. The mount is only held together with compression between a long screw, a plastic washer, and two grippy plastic pieces. While the lamp isn't exactly heavy at 2 lb (Ikea website) plus the weight of the bulb, I would find a secure surface to attach it do (i.e. not something paper thin that will shear through). According to the website, the cord length is 5'3", which is neither short nor long.

Note that the base and lamp are separate units and neither are screwed into the other. After attaching the base, I just had to stick the lamp into a hole in the mount. If all goes well, the lamp won't put a hole in the base.

Video overview of TERTIAL lamp here.


My current lamp has been working fine for months. As far as I know, the last one still works in another house I haven't been to in a while. Someone else I know also has the lamp and has been using it for years without a problem. When the lamp is adjusted, everything stays in place. It takes some amount of force to re-orient the lamp and the "weakest" joint on mine is the connection between the mount and lamp base; that is, I can rotate it easier than moving the other joints.

Expandability / Customizability

You can buy new bulbs? It used to be that you could buy a separate, weighted base like I mentioned earlier. It used to also be that you could buy the lamps in separate colors, but those days are over.

Everyday Use

The TERTIAL is a simple and adjustable lamp in my experience. The on and off switch at the top of the shade is one of those twist/turn classic lamp switches and isn't hard to manipulate. Moving the lamp around (i.e. re-orient) is very easy for me and does not take much effort. I can illuminate what I want properly while also keeping the arm out of ,y way. As a cheap lamp, it isn't much to look at, but it also isn't remotely hideous. For $10, I could do a lot worse and it's cheap enough that I could try it out and throw it in a corner if I end up hating it.

On the Ikea website, they have a photo of the TERTIAL being used as a bookshelf lamp, which looks kind of weird. However, it shows off at least one unconventional way of using the system.

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