When a light bulb burns out, you may grab a replacement without considering its wattage. But there’s a risk of fire if a light bulb’s wattage exceeds what the light fixture or lamp allows. So let’s shed some light on light bulb wattage requirements.
There’s a maximum wattage warning?
It might come as a mild shock that you can’t stick just any old bulb into the socket of a light fixture, but it’s true. Lamps and light fixtures will tell you the maximum allowable bulb wattage. Using a bulb with a higher wattage rating than allowed risks overheating that can cause a fire.
The lamp or fixture’s bulb socket will state the maximum wattage. If a lamp holds multiple bulbs, the limitation may be printed at the lamp’s base and give a maximum wattage for all sockets combined.
Inspect for damage
Touch the socket or the shade if you’ve been running outsized wattage in a lamp. If either is hot to the touch, it’s a bad sign. Likewise, if there is a burnt smell or burn marks around the socket, the lamp may need a new socket or even new wiring to become safe again.
The hidden bonus of fluorescent and LED bulbs
Wattage issues are less of a problem with fluorescent and LED bulbs. They use less electricity and save money, and they provide light at a fraction of the fixture’s wattage requirements. The bulb package may say “rated for 75 watts; actual wattage used 12 watts.” LED bulbs have come down in price in recent years, giving off attractive lighting and lasting a long time.
Know your fixture wattage
Learn the wattage requirements of your lamps and each ceiling and wall fixture. Purchase bulbs that you are certain match. Your electricity usage will be efficient, and you will run little risk of fire.
Related – Should I Switch to LED Light Bulbs?