Tealight Lantern Goes Cordless & LED (IKEA Hack)

I’ve discovered that I have developed a love for lanterns.  It could be their rustic nature…Or it could be that anytime I see one, I’m reminded of the first time Jacque and I ever went camping together (Insert pause for sentimental reader reaction…Ahhh)…Well, whatever it is, I’m drawn to them.
And as a firefighter, of course, I have a love for LED lights!  (Generally, the brighter, the better!) But I found that most of the LED lanterns that I came across were missing character…But thanks to an amazing post that Jacque shared with me written by Kelly from View Along the Way, I found everything I needed to make my own LED Lantern!

Morkt IKEA LED Lantern by theDIYvillage.com

 

Kelly had written a post on How to Make Any Lamp Cordless.  As soon as I saw what she had done, I knew I had found a solution that would let me combine my love of lanterns and LED’s without taking away from the character of the lantern!

Morkt IKEA LED Lantern by theDIYvillage.com

While driving home from Ohio after Christmas in a pretty substantial snow storm, we were faced with a decision…Do we diligently stay our path and make our way home as quickly as possible…or do we throw caution to the wind and risk getting stuck in even worse snow conditions by taking the exit off of the interstate that would lead us to…IKEA!  Of course, we “took shelter” at IKEA.  And I’m glad that we did because while strolling the isles, I happened upon this MÖRKT Tealight Lantern.  It had the look I wanted in a lantern and its design would work nicely for the LED conversion that I had in mind…So $5.99 (plus tax) later, I had the first piece to the puzzle!

Morkt IKEA LED Lantern by theDIYvillage.com

 Next, I got onto Amazon and ordered the LED strip and battery pack I needed. I wanted to find a switch that looked like a fuel cap that might be found on a kerosene lantern. Luckily Lowes is only about 5 minutes away and I found a rotary switch that would aesthetically work for me. Now it was time to put the pieces of this puzzle together!

Morkt IKEA LED Lantern by theDIYvillage.com

The first thing I had to do was to drill a hole in the base of the lantern, just large enough to fit the threaded end of the rotor switch through.

Morkt IKEA LED Lantern by theDIYvillage.com

On the under side of the base, I secured the switch in place with a washer and nut. (Both are included with the switch)

Morkt IKEA LED Lantern by theDIYvillage.com

Now I was ready to solder the wires onto the LED strip. I followed Kelly”s instructions on wiring up the fixture.  The only difference was that my red and black leads went from the LED strip directly to the battery pack, so I didn’t have existing wiring from the lamp to deal with, and because of that, I also had to install my own switch. More on that in a minute!

Morkt IKEA LED Lantern by theDIYvillage.com

I didn’t want to lose the rustic look of the lantern, so to help hide the wires, I lined the inside of the tealight tray with the LED strip.  (You could always move them to the outside of the tray, or any where else on the lantern, if you want more light).  It’s got an adhesive backing on it, so all I had to do was peel the paper off and adhere it to the surface!  Placing it there also gave me easy access to the hollow base below.

Morkt IKEA LED Lantern by theDIYvillage.com

I drilled a small hole in the tea light tray, just large enough to fit the wires through, and just like that, I was ready to wire in the rotary switch and the battery pack!

Morkt IKEA LED Lantern by theDIYvillage.com

Adding the switch is really simple…In theory!  The switch is wired in-line on either the hot or the ground wire. (In-line meaning that you choose either the red or black lead, cut it, and then connect the wires from the switch into the lead you just cut)

Now, I have to confess that I wasn’t paying close enough attention to what I was doing when I wired the switch the first time…Yes, I said the first time.  I wired one side of the switch to the hot wire and the other end to the ground…The result…I created a short in the wiring!  Jacque, who was holding the battery pack, very calmly asked me why the batteries were getting so hot…In a few short seconds she looked like she was playing hot potato with the battery pack as she very quickly handed it off to me!  I had enough time to start removing the batteries just as the plastic ends of the battery pack began to melt!  It took a call to my Dad and my Father-In-Law before I even figured out what I had done!   Not my proudest moment!  But I gracefully recovered and corrected the wiring on the back-up battery pack that I had luckily ingeniously purchased!

Morkt IKEA LED Lantern by theDIYvillage.com

 The battery pack fit nicely in the hollow base.

Morkt IKEA LED Lantern by theDIYvillage.com

To finish off the lantern, I cut a small piece of luan to snuggly fit in the under side of the base. Then to make it easy to remove, I drilled a hole in the luan to use as a pull.

LanternIKEAhacktheDIYvillage

Morkt IKEA LED Lantern by theDIYvillage.com

 

So this is it!  My IKEA MÖRKT Tealight converted into an IKEA MÖRKT LED Lantern!

The coolest thing about this project was getting to use the LED strips.  It’s a pretty versatile product, and very inexpensive when you look at the cost of most LED’s.

What projects can you think of using them for?

(Just as an additional warning, I want to point out that the LED strip is rated for a 12 volt power supply, do not use anything rated higher than that for this product as it could lead to injury.)

 This post does contain affiliate links.

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Comments

    • Matt says

      Heather, you’re absolutely right, they do have EVERYTHING! What I didn’t include in the post was a description of the other 2 bags of stuff we bought while we there! Thanks for letting us know what you thought of the lantern!

  1. says

    Yay! I LOVE the idea of using the LED strips for a lantern: brilliant! And it’ll be perfect for camping. Not long ago, the power went out in our whole neighborhood and guess who was chillin’ by the light of a little brass lamp? These guys! :) Thanks for the link love and the inspiration. I’m feeling a trip to Ikea coming on…
    Kelly @ View Along the Way recently posted..Our Home Goals for 2013My Profile

    • Matt says

      Kelly, I’m really glad you like it! I’m so thankful that Jacque introduced me to View Along the Way! I’m sure this won’t be the last time I find inspiration from your projects! And on a side note, LOVE the “refresh” on your site!

    • Matt says

      You’ve got it Ethan! As long as you’ve got a 12 volt power supply, AC or DC, it will be good to go. The nice thing about those LED strips is that they come with an adapter for an AC power supply, but they’re easily set up for DC like I used them! I’m honored to have you stop by Ethan! I’m a big fan of oneprojectcloser.com!

    • Matt says

      Thanks Keri! That’s quite a compliment! This was a fun project to work on, especially the “Hot Potato” moment!

    • Matt says

      Melissa, these LED ribbons are insane! Totally keep them in mind for any upcoming projects! Thanks for stopping in!

    • Matt says

      Tiffany, I don’t think your husband would be disappointed! From one LED Lover to another, I’m still amazed how easy they were to work with!

    • Matt says

      Bethany, Glad to hear you like our Lantern Hack! The LED Ribbon is amazing! Depending on the length you use, they are really bright! Much brighter than what I’m used to seeing in an LED tea light!

    • Matt says

      Ashley, You definitely won’t be sorry if you try out the LED ribbons! I am honored that you’ve stopped by! I’ve been a silent fan of Domestic Imperfection for a good while!

    • Matt says

      Thanks Heather! I was actually really surprised how easy it was to wire the lantern! It will definitely solve the lack of outlets around the house!

    • Matt says

      Hey Pam, Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave us some feedback! We popped over to your site and saw the Pottery Barn Inspired Buffet that you and your husband made! Love it!

    • Matt says

      Thanks for the pin Michele! This was a fun project for me to play around with…Jacque better be careful…There’s a lot of stuff in our house that I could turn into an LED light fixture now!

    • Matt says

      I know how you feel Sheila! I’m on the look out for my next LED conversion…May need to head back over to IKEA! Thanks for stopping in!

    • Matt says

      Vanessa, I’m glad you liked the Lantern Conversion! We appreciate you taking a look at the site, we’d love for you to come back often!

    • Matt says

      Heather! That is AWESOME! Thank you SO much for the feature! Aside from melting the first battery pack, that was a really fun project!

  2. ronald coleman says

    Question how did you wire them wrog the first time ,knowing me I will do the same thing too. lol Thanks for any Help Ron

    • Matt says

      Ronald, when I wired in the switch, I basically crossed the wires. One of the leads from the LED ribbon should have been wired into the switch and then to one terminal on the battery pack. The other lead should have gone straight to the other battery pack terminal. Well I wired both wires from the LED ribbon to the switch, then to the battery pack…Definitely, the wrong way to do it! Thanks for stopping in Ronald! If you think of any more questions that I can help with, don’t hesitate to ask!

    • Matt says

      Stacey, You’re right about it being handy if the power goes out! Just ask Jacque. She’s had the unfortunate opportunity to use our lantern when the weather knocked out the power!

    • Matt says

      Hey Steve! There’s actually a total of 8 AA batteries total in the pack. I haven’t followed the life span and power consumption of the batteries in the lamp, but the LED’s are pulling such a minimal draw, I haven’t had to change them out yet!

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