Sunday, November 28, 2010

High Light Bulb Changer

So you have a light bulb in a high ceiling fixture and no ladder.  What to do?  Make your own light bulb changer.

Materials needed:

Broom stick with standard Acme threads
An empty 2 liter plastic soda bottle
An old cotton t-shirt
Small amount of tape (electrical, duct, masking, whatever)
Sharp knife

Steps:

1.) Cut the bottle approximately as shown in the photo.  Be careful because this kind of plastic is tough.  Both the knife and the plastic can cut you.  You don't need or want a smooth clean edge on the plastic.  A ragged edge is fine.  (see below)



2.) Screw the broomstick into the mouth of the bottle until it's snug, then apply a wrap or two of tape as shown in the photo to make sure it stays in place.

3.) Take the old t-shirt and fold it once so there's four layers of material and carefully fit it into the bottle.  What I do is fold the t-shirt then lay it over a light bulb and use the bulb to gently press the shirt into the bottle.  Once the shirt is in place, you can replace bulbs all day long without readjusting the shirt.



4.) Now you're ready to go.  Gently press the tool up over the existing bulb and twist the broom stick counterclockwise to unscrew it.  Put the new bulb into the tool and install it.

BE GENTLE!  This device grips the bulb and gives a lot of leverage so it's very easy to twist the bulb right off and break it.  Fingertip pressure is all you need to hold the broom stick.

The way it works is the sharp edge of the bottle tends to grab the t-shirt material so the shirt doesn't slip.  When you twist, the cotton t-shirt material takes about a 1/8th turn wrap on the bulb and grips it.  The harder you twist, the tighter it grips.  A heavy cotton t-shirt works best and a dirty t-shirt grips better than a clean t-shirt.



This device works equally well on incandescent bulbs and spiral CFLs (compact fluorescents).  For very small bulbs, fold the t-shirt twice before inserting it.  For other shapes like long skinny CFLs you might try the same methods but with differently shaped bottles.

10 comments:

emy said...

...muy cool idea, now that i am in a house with high ceilings.....tanks, flipper

ShutterSparks / KW2P said...

Glad you like the idea. Let me know how it works out for you.

I didn't want to make the article too complicated but a suggestion, especially if you are going to re-use the same tool a lot is to run a couple of screws through the mouth of the bottle and into the broomstick. Tape works okay but if you are changing a lot of bulbs the bottle gets loose and you have to retape it, etc. It's a hassle. Better to just screw it, so to speak, and it will stay put forever.

Also the long skinny CFLs can actually be done with the same tool shown in the photo. Just fold the t-shirt twice. The skinny bulbs are trickier to control but definitely do-able without switching to a narrower bottle.

By the way, the bottle in the photo is a 2 liter Canada Dry Club Soda bottle.

elpolvo said...

while you're at it, screw in one of these and it should last the rest of yer life (if you're as old as emy):

http://www.qnuru.com/index.php?page=prism-led-bulbs

Anonymous said...

The answer to how many engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb. Yet another worn out t-shirt put to good use by the man of many t-shirts.

Almita Neon said...

Great idea! I shared w a friend and she just told me it worked perfectly! Thank you

Peter Kesting said...

One of those devices is like $20 on Amazon, I have only one light that will need changing, what every 4 or 5 years so it just wasn't worth the $20. The bulb is on stairs that just made it impossible/unsafe to try to use a ladder. Well I didn't have a 2 litter bottle, I had an old water bottle, I just used a thin dish rag instead of a shirt and it worked like a dream thanks a lot, ideal for the very infrequent user. If I had 20 lights that were high it might be worth the $20.

Jacqui in Oz said...

Wow, thanks so much for this. At the moment I am living on my own and have massively high ceilings. I also can't get past the third rung of the ladder before I get all queasy and my knees shake. It worked like a charm!

ShutterSparks / KW2P said...

Hi Jacqui. I'm glad to hear it worked for you. It takes a little practice and a fine touch but it's quick and easy once you've done it a few times.

Unknown said...

worked like a charm removing the old bulb but couldn't get the new bulb properly aligned to screw it in.

ShutterSparks / KW2P said...

Well, it is a bit of an art, sometimes taking patience and a gentle touch, and the bulb must be aligned straight. Some sockets are more difficult, taking several attempts, but I've never failed yet. It's not always easy but beats climbing a ladder, especially on stairs.