Nov 2013

Why Is There A Fire Risk If I Use More Than The MAX Watts On My Light Bulb Socket Label?

Most lamps sold today have a label similar to the one pictured here.Why, might you ask, is there a fire risk if you use a higher watt light bulb than the one listed? The reason is because higher watts equates to higher temperatures. A watt is a unit of heat and is the amount of energy a light bulb uses. A watt is not to be confused with a lumen which is the measure of light output.

Lampshades confine a certain amount of heat depending on the diameter of the top opening. The smaller the opening, the smaller wattage light bulb should be used. Metal lampshades get hot themselves, sometimes too hot to touch. Sockets are made in lots of different quality levels and can get really hot also. The components of a light fixture all work together is a certain way. Whatever you do, pay attention to the label and use the proper incandescent light bulb.

All that being said however, CFL’s do not generate much heat at all so you can use a higher wattage equivalent CFL to produce more lumens than a lower wattage incandescent light bulb. For example, a 13 watt CFL produces about the same amount of light as a 75 watt incandescent light bulb so you could use it in a fixture that limits the watts to 40. Just don’t mess around with incandescent light bulbs, they can really be a fire hazard!

Download the UL app, LightSmart, from the app store for all kinds of lighting information and visit FoggLighting.com.