The Danger of Installing Larger Light Bulbs Into Fixtures

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The Danger of Installing Larger Light Bulbs Into Light Fixtures: How to Keep Your Light Fixtures Safe from Fire Danger.

Installing Light Bulbs in Light Fixtures

Electrical Question: I have 3 of my girlfriend’s kitchen pendant lamps. Her well-meaning husband “helped” her out by replacing the bulbs; however, he replaced the bulbs with a wattage higher than the recommended incandescent 40W/120V/E26/A19.

  • My friend heard one of the sockets “pop” and all of the lamps quit working. She tried putting the correct wattage bulb in the lamps, but they still didn’t work. She had an electrician come by who took the lamps down and cut the damaged sockets from the pendant cords. He quoted her $600 to fix the lamps, but did not say what work would be involved in the fix.
  • I noticed that one of the copper wires connected to the cut-off socket was a green patina, the other was still copper. The wires from the cut end of the pendants are both copper and don’t seem to be damaged.
  • I’ve wired tons of tabletop lamps and I’m comfortable replacing the socket. I also have access through my job to manufacturers who will definitely carry any replacement parts I’ll need.
  • But is it possible that there is more damage I haven’t considered that will not be helped by simply replacing the sockets? What do I look for?


Background: Lauren, a Homeowner from Newport Beach, CA.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your home electrical question Lauren.

How to Keep Your Light Fixtures Safe from Fire Danger

The Danger of Installing Larger Light Bulbs Into Light Fixtures

  • This is why you should never replaced the bulbs with a wattage higher than the recommended. Installing a larger lamp into the fixture socket will create more heat which can lead to a possible fire, so this practice is dangerous and definitely not recommended.
  • The quoted cost to perform this repair work is extremely high, and the damage may be limited to the socket which will need to be replaced with another identical light socket.

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