Lamps come in many shapes, colors and materials — paper included! The beauty of paper lamps is that they're generally inexpensive and chic and can be handcrafted. They can set a relaxing ambiance by dimming light or create a delicate elegance in a room. That said, like many light fixtures, paper lamps and lampshades come with safety hazards. If you're considering buying a paper lamp, you should learn about the possible dangers and what you can do to enhance paper lamp safety.
Possible Hazards of Paper Lamps
Paper lamps and lampshades aren't for everyone. If you decide to purchase one, you must be willing to adhere to safety precautions to prevent damage to your home. With that in mind, make sure the light bulb you're using is in good condition. A light bulb in poor condition can spark and start a fire.
Certain materials can increase the risk of fire as well. If you're crafting a paper lampshade, make sure you're using the proper materials. For example, pressure-sensitive styrene or adhesive styrene can be used as the inner layer to prevent the outer material from touching the bulb. Canvas, linen and cotton are other materials that can be used when crafting a paper lampshade.
Paper Lamp Safety Tips
Now that you're aware of the possible hazards of using paper lamps, it's important to know which safety precautions to take. One thing to keep in mind is that higher-wattage bulbs create more heat and generally require more ventilation and, therefore, a wider lampshade.
To determine whether the lampshade is appropriate for the bulb, you'll have to measure the "critical radius" — the measurement from the middle of the bulb to the inside edge of the lampshade. If you don't have a measuring tape around, don't worry. You can determine if the lampshade is providing enough ventilation by turning the lamp on for five minutes, then feeling whether the top of the shade is too hot. If it is, the lampshade is too narrow and could potentially start a fire. It may also help to use LED bulbs because they stay cooler and are less likely to be hazardous.
Other Safety Tips To Remember
If you're using a paper lamp or lampshade, you'll also want to:
- Switch off the lamp when you leave the room. Lamps can overheat if left on for too long.
- Keep flammable items away. Blankets, curtains and other flammable materials should be kept away from the paper lamp, especially if it's switched on or was only recently switched off.
- Change a flickering or blinking light bulb and don't use a wattage that's greater than that recommended by the lamp manufacturer.
- Make sure the wiring is intact. If exposed wires are near flammable items, there's a possibility of igniting a flame.
- Check the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) rating listed on the socket to find out the highest-wattage bulb allowed for that lamp.
- Ask a professional for a safety inspection if you have any concerns or questions about the safety of your paper lamp.
Caroline is a writer from NYC. Her writing has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Elle.com, New York Magazine, Marie Claire and The Huffington Post. She produces content on women's health/wellness, design/DIY and business for companies such as Meredith Corporation, Leaf Group and the business school, Hautes Études Commercials Paris. She's a former Production Associate and blogger at Show of Force, the production company behind Nicholas Kristof's and Sheryl WuDunn's, Half the Sky.