How to Store a Lamp

Jon Fesmire |

Lamps tend to be delicate. Even those made of metal have parts that can break or easily take damage, so when putting one in storage, it’s important to do so with care.

After you’ve unplugged your lamp, gather the following:

  • Packing paper or newspaper

  • A piece of foam about 2”x2”

  • Rubber bands or string

  • Packing tape

  • A black sharpie

  • A box the right size for the lamp

  • A box for the shade

From the Top

Depending on the type of lamp you have, you will need to remove the lightbulb first, or the shade. Look down, or up, the shade to see if it will come off with the bulb in place. If not, the bulb goes first.

Lamps using the old incandescent bulbs have a part called a “harp,” a U-shaped curve of metal that held the curving bulb in place. Today’s lamps, made with fluorescent and LED bulbs in mind, won’t have a harp. With the old lamps, you will most likely have to remove the shade and harp first then the bulb.

Since fluorescent and LED bulbs last a long time, you may want to pack the one from your lamp. If you have the pack of bulbs it came in, you can return it there. If not, there’s a good chance it will break in transit, so you may want to discard it.

If it does have a harp and any other parts that needed to be removed, wrap them in pieces of packing paper, secure them with invisible tape, and set them aside.

At the Base

The prongs at the end of the cord can scratch your lamp while in storage or transit, so we recommend you press them into a piece of foam, or wrap them in a soft, dry cloth, then use a rubber band to keep the cloth in place. Next, wrap the cord, and use a rubber band, string, or cord tie to keep it together. You may also want to tie it to the neck of the lamp.

Place the lamp on its side, on top of padding paper or newspaper, and roll it up, encasing the base in the protective paper. Here, the base includes the bottom and neck, up to and including the socket for the bulb.

Boxing the Lamp

If you still have the original box, that’s great. If you don’t have the box, the self storage facility where you have your unit may sell lamp boxes. Since lamps come in a variety of sizes, take measurements before you purchase a box.

Line the box with your packing paper, and slide the base into the box. One good way to achieve this lining is to crumple up paper and place it on the bottom, then slide in the lamp base. Put the wrapped accessories in the box, then then crumple more paper and fill the box with it.

Boxing the Shade

Lamp shades are made of a variety of materials, all fragile. Some are made from thin plastic, some from cloth, and some from glass. Because of this, you should store your shade in its own box with plenty of padding. Your self storage facility may have a box right for the shade as well.

The packing method is almost the same as for the base. Crumble up some paper and line the bottom with it. Place the shade inside, upright. Fill the empty spaces with crumpled packing paper.

Make sure that the empty spaces are filled with crushed paper in both boxes, then seal them with packing tape.

Mark the Boxes

When you retrieve your boxes later from storage, you may not immediately remember what’s in them. So, label them. All that takes is a black sharpie. On the lamp base box, write “LAMP - FRAGILE,” and on the shade box, “LAMP SHADE - FRAGILE.”

Handle them with care from your home, to your car, to your storage unit.

Climate Control

On a final note, if you don’t have a unit with climate control, you may want to consider this feature. In areas where the weather can get cold and dry, or hot and humid, lamps can take damage. Moisture in the air can encourage the growth of mold and mildew. Both cold and hot weather can cause the parts of various items to expand and contract at varying rates. Climate controlled units rent for about 25% more than standard units, but provide excellent protection by keeping the temperature and humidity at consistent, safe levels for your things.

Follow these steps, and your lamp should be safe and in great condition when you’re ready to retrieve it.