Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ikea TUVE Table Lamp Review

One of the joys of living in a room with only one window facing a building, and located in the middle of the house is that you never have enough lamps. For about an hour each day in the morning, there is enough sunlight to dimly light up the room. Every other hour of the day requires artificial lighting.

There are currently three lamps in this room: two task lights and one ceiling fixture. The ceiling fixture must go on to do anything productive including the use of a computer or watching television. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to clearly see the keyboard or find the remote and move around without tripping. Another task light behind the computer monitor is also turned on to provide additional illumination for both comfort and to be able to actually see things more clearly.
Ikea TUVE table lamp unboxed
One major change in the past year has been the move to a 60 W (incandescent equivalent) LED bulb from a 100 W (incandescent equivalent) CFL bulb in the ceiling fixture. The difference was dramatic, but I thought I could save some electricity. That and I wanted to use one of my brand new LED bulbs somewhere important. For the most part, I was right. However, there was an opportunity recently that required that I work on the floor a fair distance from either task light. It was very difficult to see things even though I was directly under the ceiling light. So started the search for another lamp.

What I wanted was either a floor or table lamp. I had task lights that illuminated specific areas. The requirement was for a lamp that supplemented the ceiling light because there was no way that I was going back to using a 100 W equivalent CFL. More accurately, there was no way I was going back to using a CFL and no LEDs that I knew of produced that much light.

Where I ended up was back at Ikea looking for a TUVE table lamp. There is a floor lamp version too, but I wanted to keep my floors a bit clearer. The price was somewhat agreeable and I loved the design. Unfortunately, up until recently, the TUVE was out of stock at my local store. I've been waiting for months and now it has finally arrived.

Ikea TUVE Table Lamp - US$ 39.99 (CAD$ 39.99)

With a package weight of about 6 lb (from website) and a relatively small box, the TUVE was not the most difficult item I've had to carry home on public transit. It wasn't easy, but it definitely wasn't that hard. The box fit easily under my arms.

Assembly was a completely different story. The lamp's arm, base, and socket screwed together with very little effort. Everything was easy up until the shade. I had read the instructions online before buying and nothing looked really out of place. There were two large curved pieces of something that involved the shade, but I thought nothing of it. You don't really appreciate or "know" something until it's sitting right in front of you sometimes. And when I saw the lamp at the store, I just wanted to bring it home, so I didn't inspect the floor model thoroughly.

The shade for this lamp is made of cotton and linen (website). In fact, its look and material both influenced my decision to buy the lamp. Having checked out the materials online, I knew that the diffuser was supposed to be made of polypropylene plastic. What I didn't know was how big and important it was.

So close yet so far away

Unless the design has changed in the few days since I bought it, the plastic diffuser is what actually props up the entire shade. The shade itself, which consists of three steel rings with four horizontal rods connecting the inner ring to the outer ring on the lower part, is shipped flat and collapsed in the box. Other lamp shades that I've seen use vertical metal rods to prop the shade up. Not here. The TUVE uses two round polypropylene diffusers inserted around the perimeter of the outer steel rings (top and bottom), right up against the linen/cotton shade to hold the shade upright. Being plastic, shiny, and called the "diffuser", chances are that it helps to diffuse light too.

Attaching the plastic diffuser took more than half an hour because they were sized, in my package at least, to barely fit or fit tightly between the upper and lower outer rings. I went "screw it" after half an hour and was dead set on returning the entire lamp. So, having given up, I gave it one more go and just jammed the plastic sheet as hard as I could until it went in. More than ten minutes later, both diffusers were in, and I was finally done putting it together.

The plastic diffuser

Base is pretty heavy and it feels sturdy. Hasn't fallen over, or apart, yet.

Expandability / Customizability
There's a matching floor lamp version. The photo on the website with both models in a room looks nice.

Everyday Use
I decided to stick my 60 W equivalent Ikea LED bulb into this lamp. The bulb went in effortlessly, the lamp switched on with a tug of the switch, and it looked great. Being in a dark room with just the lamp on, unfortunately, I was "blinded" by looking at the bulb directly for a second.

The light switch was easy to pull and didn't require much force to activate. Light distribution looked fine out of the shade. My only complaint had to do with the brightness of the bulb, which I have since taken care of by replacing it with a 40 W equivalent LED bulb -- this one by Philips.

One of my concerns was with the plastic diffuser and the chance that it could get hot with lengthy use. To test this out, I left the 60 W equivalent (10W actual) Ikea bulb on for two hours to see how hot the inside of the diffuser would get. It felt like it was still at room temperature, which kind of makes sense because the bulb makes no contact with anything except the base. I still really would have preferred steel rods to be used instead of the plastic diffuser though. Time for a personal modification?

Overall, lovely lamp: See it in action here.

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