Published on August 11th, 2010 | by Jules Yap


Kulla Lamp Refurb Instructions!

Materials: Kulla Lamp (floor or desk model)

Description: I was disappointed by the 6 month lifespan of my Kulla floor lamp, the glossy enameled bauhaus-y piece I finally let myself spend $100 on. One day, it just didn’t turn on.

When I checked online to see if there were any quick fixes, I found plenty of company. Many people reported their Kulla had a mind of its own, cycling through the light settings in the middle of the night.

But people still LOVED their Kullas! Many kept them as non-functional ornaments, unable to simply discard them.

My 90-day warranty was up, I couldn’t find my receipt and IKEA was a 2-hour drive, so I figured I was on my own. I loved my Kulla too. There had to be a way!

This post shed some, uh, light on what I was up against:

Commenter Marc had gave me the confidence to take the lamp apart and the rest I improvised. Following are instructions on how to get the Kulla up and running when it becomes possessed or just dies totally.

The problem is that the dimmer control board has burned out, so we are going to replace it. The replacement module is $10 at Lowe’s (online or brick & mortar)


1. Remove the shade, bulb and wire shade support and unscrew plastic ring under the bulb.

2. While holding the main lamp post with one hand, turn the entire top assembly with the other, using the plastic diffuser disc and the touch post for leverage. (You may prefer to have a helper hold the pole while you turn.) Unscrew the top assembly, feeding some cord slack through the grommet by the lamp’s base if things seem to get difficult.

3. With the top assembly off, it’s time to separate the halves of the Kulla’s skull! It’s pretty easy but requires a firm hand. Grasp the threaded rod that secures the top assembly to the lamp post (I used big pliers called Channel Locks) and while holding the outer cup-shaped shell of the top assembly, push straight in on those threads until it gives and separates, breaking open the electrical chamber. I think what you are doing here is breaking a bead of adhesive that keeps the skull together. Finally, with firmness, free the cup-shaped half from the threaded rod entirely. This might require some jiggling at the very end.

4. Next, free the dimmer control board from the inner skull by peeling the black plastic case away (it’s held with double-sided foam tape. Open but don’t discard the black plastic housing. We wil be reusing half of this plastic capsule for the new board. You will probably smell a burned electronics smell at this point; that’s the old dimmer control board which is fried.

5. Prepare the new board by breaking it out of its casing with a small putty knife or similar tool. Unfortunately its gray housing is slightly too bulky to fit into Kulla’s skull.

6. Now comes the brain transplant! For this step, match the black and white wire positions and substitute the gray wire of the new board for the blue wire of the old board:

Remove the old, defective dimmer control board by clipping off the tiny zip ties, cutting off the black heat shrink tubing and un-crimping the connectors one at a time. I used a technique of wiring in the new board as I unwired the old: un-crimp one connector and attach the appropriate wire from the new board, the twist on the tiny, supplied wire nut. Then repeat the process for the other two crimped connections. This way you don’t get confused by the loose wires that would otherwise result. I used a crimping tool to un-crimp, but pliers will do.

7. When the new board is in and the wire nuts twisted tightly, use tiny zip ties to hold the wires together right near the wire nuts (just like the old ones that you cut off earlier). Clip off the tails of the zip ties. Wind electrical tape around the zip ties and wire nuts.

8. Place the new dimmer control board (component-side first) into half of the black housing from the old board, leaving the heat sink as the exposed side.

9. The eyelet on the yellow wire of the new board is too big, so we need to replace it with a smaller one from radio shack or a hardware store. I just cut off the original one, stripped a bit of wire and crimped a smaller one on to fit over the fitting of the touch post.

10.TEST IT OUT! The moment of truth… put in a bulb, plug in the lamp and touch the exposed eyelet at the end of the yellow wire of the new dimmer board. The lamp should cycle through the various dimmer settings. Don’t worry, no current runs through that piece. Actually at this point there should be nothing exposed that could cause a shock. Assuming it works, let’s put Kulla back together!


11. Using the double-sided tape supplied with the new board, stick the new board by its recycled housing back down into the Kulla skull interior floor from whence the old board came.

12. Pack everything in nice and tight and press the two halves of the skull together. Holding the halves together, place the top assembly back onto the lamp post and screw it back on. When it is nice and tight, the skull will be closed up tightly again.

13. Reassemble and enjoy!

~ Nick Johnson, Portland, Maine

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

18 Responses to Kulla Lamp Refurb Instructions!

  1. Vamsi says:

    I have tried and tried and tried… but I can’t seem to be able to “open the skull”, by either pushing or pulling or unscrewing… :-) I guess this stupid lamp is going to go into the dumpster!

  2. quay says:

    this gift keeps on giving.. thank you!

  3. Nina of Sweden says:

    Amazing :)
    I am a Kulla-believer and chose between google and calling a medium (3 year old Kulla gone wild, blinkning, turning on and off etc). This is just amazing, now i will try to fix my beloved lamp,
    (Think G it wasnt any demons ;)

    THANK YOU :)

  4. Carl Kouznetzoff says:

    Hi Confused (from December 10, 2012 6:21 AM), I discover your message only today, and I don’t know what you mean “step 3″. Hope you managed.

  5. Junky says:

    For those reading this, if your Kulla light is no longer working, please do not throw it. It is a very nice lamp.

    It is just a matter of dismantling, disconnecting the stick sensor and replacing it with another switch.

    I dismantled the Kulla lamp for both the table and floor lamp. It was not easy at first but I have photos on my blog for your reference.

    Hope it helps.

  6. Confused says:

    Hi Nick and Carl,

    I unscrewed when rod switch (the one you touch to turn on the light) by accident and it seems the only way to screw it back on is to open the box. I’m having trouble and not sure how exactly this can be done (namely, how you did step 3)… can you please help!!!

  7. Carl Kouznetzoff says:

    OPENING THE “SKULL” another method.

    There seems to be at least 2 types of fastening for the “box” (what Nick calls “the skull”) containing the wiring and the electronic board; one in which the box is glued (as in Nick’s explanations), and one in which the box is screwed.

    To unscrew it: with a pair of pliers, grasp the piece of tube (1.5 cm / 0.6 “) that is underneath the transparent plastic “plate”, and with the other hand, hold the metal “bell” (in which the bulb is inserted); unscrew. It is quite a long process, but you can check that the metal plate (the cover of the “box”) under the bell gradually separates.

    The metal tube that you hold with the pliers will be slightly damaged (it is made in aluminium); you will have to find a way of hiding the marks.

  8. Rachel says:

    I have a white kulla, and it has been broken for over a year. we purchased it in jan 2011, it lasted until April 2011. I am desperate for it to work again but we cannot seem to get the “skull” off. We’ve tried just about everything. Does anyone have any suggestions of what else we can do. We were thinking about bringing it to get completely rewired but I am not sure they will know what to do with it. Please help us!!!

  9. Jas says:

    Excellent! Worked perfect. Also the replacement touch dimmer was only $3 at Lowe’s!

  10. Despina says:

    Thank you will try it, since I love this lamp. Still I am angry with IKEA, seems the problem repeats itself a little too often..

  11. Anonymous says:

    wish i’d found this post before I returned my lamp to Ikea, and when they wouldnt refund I just left it there!

  12. Anonymous says:

    My lamp just died today. Thank god I found this blog.

  13. nick says:

    that’s great rebecca, good job! glad i could help!

  14. rebecca says:

    Totally worked. Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  15. rebecca says:

    Hope it works.. I’m a little afraid to mess with electricity but my floor lamp has been sitting dead in the living room for over a month!

  16. Anonymous says:

    You’re a Genius!

  17. Yuletide Gay says:

    Absolutely brilliant!

  18. Anonymous says:


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