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What Size Light Bulb Is Safe For Fixtures?

Light Fixtures Light Sockets Lamps and Light Bulbs: Guide for Selecting the Right Size Light Bulb, CAUTION: Installing the Wrong Size Light Bulb Can be Dangerous!

Home Electrical Wiring Video

How to Wire a GFCI Outlet
without a Ground Wire

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The Wrong Size Light Bulb Can Be Dangerous!
Electrical Question #1: I am replacing Light Bulbs in Light Fixture Lamp Sockets.

Background: Ed, a Homeowner from Amherst, Massachusetts.

Electrical Question #2: I’m wondering if halogen bulbs are OK in our light fixture.

This electrical wiring question came from Allie, a Homeowner in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your home electrical question Ed and Allie.

Light Fixtures, Lamps, Light Sockets and Light Bulbs

Guide for Selecting the Right Size Light Bulb

More about Light Bulbs and Light Fixtures

Electrical Safety

Lighting For The Home

cfl bulb

The following may also be helpful for you:

Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Here's How to Do It:
Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

Great for any Home Wiring Project.
  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my Online Video Course:
Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

More articles about Light Socket, Lighting and Home Electrical Wiring:
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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

13 Responses to “What Size Light Bulb Is Safe For Fixtures?”
  1. Indy says:

    I have the same problem as the last guy. What does the 660w/250v mean. I have a fixture on a mirror (two one on each side of the mirror) and it says the same thing. I need to use it now and realize many years ago I must have just put a 15watt bulb in it. I would like to put a larger bulb but there is no way to find the manufacturer of this to ask. Is there a way to decipher what this means.

    like the last person I am not able to find anyone to tell me what these numbers mean.

    Thank you

  2. Dave Rongey says:

    Indy, the numbers that are found on the light socket are the maximum rating for the Light Socket ONLY. This obviously does not mean that you can safely use a 660 watt light bulb in your light fixture, besides, it will most likely cause a house fire. This is why I say to go back to the light fixture instruction sheet or look on the box to see what is the specified size light bulb. Yes, I know that this is not possible for older light fixtures, so the other place to look is on the light fixture housing. Many times there will either be a imprinted stamp or a label that shows the size light bulb to use. If nothing is found then I would suggest finding a similar light fixture at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot hardware store and see what the specs are. Often you will find that 60 watts is the standard size light bulb, but it is best to find out for sure.

  3. Catherine Chambers says:

    Is it safe to have a light fixture that holds multiple light bulbs, but put only one bulb in it?

  4. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Catherine,
    With incandescent light fixtures you do not have to have bulbs in all of the light sockets, but having an open light socket that is energized is not a real good idea if the fixture is in an accessible location where fingers or objects may be a problem. It may be better to slightly unscrew the lamp so that it does not make connection and still occupy the space, or install a lamp that is burnt out.
    I hope this helps.

  5. Joe says:

    Can a 200 watt incandescent light bulb be used safely in a ceiling ceramic fixture socket marked 660w 250v

  6. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Joe,
    The light socket is marked 660w 250v because that is the maximum rating of the socket, however that does NOT mean that is the recommended or allowed size light bulb for that specific light fixture. The size of the light bulb for the light fixture should be specified in the instruction sheet that came with the light fixture. There may be a label inside the light fixture or around the base of the light socket with the allowed or limited size light bulb for that light fixture.

  7. Dominique says:

    When shopping for light bulbs, I only take into consideration the wattage regardless of the shape of the bulb. I have often wondered why some bulbs are marked for chandeliers upside or some downside. Does the position of the light bulb really make a difference? Thanks.

  8. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Dominique,
    Yes the attitude of the light bulb will make a difference especially with chandeliers. The reason why is the construction of the light bulb, particularly the fulfillment, which may be mounted vertical or horizontal which will have an effect on the type of light that will be produced and the shadow that will be dispersed as a result of the internal construction of the lamp. You may also see light bulbs that are specifically for ceiling fans. A ceiling fan light bulb has a heavy duty filament what will withstand the natural vibrations that are produced by the ceiling fan. Heavy duty light bulbs are also know as Rough Service light bulbs and have a 130 volt rating, and they will last much longer than a standard light bulb. Mechanics and other service people who use a drop light generally use a 130 volt Rough Service light bulb which will take much more abuse.
    I hope this helps,

  9. Bruce says:

    How can I use a 60W/125V light fixture (from US) when the voltage is 250V (in Europe)? What light bulb specifications I need to follow?

    Thank You

  10. Christian says:

    My wife bought a 660W 250V porcelain lamp holder to replace one of the light fixture in our hallway. When I attempted to put it in, the black wire started sparking when I turned the electric back on. Any idea what might be the issue? There was a similar fixture there before so not sure what is causing the outage.

  11. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Christian,
    I would suspect that the wiring may be loose at the connections to the light fixture. Sparks may result if the wires are loose and the light is turned on.
    Be Safe,

  12. jane brown says:

    I just hung a Tiffany tulip style shade from an existing socket where a fan/light combo used to be. I want to use a hundred watt round clear bulb. The bulb I want to purchase says 125V. House is pretty old. Electrical just average. Will it be safe to use?

  13. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Jane,
    The watt limitation is typically printed on the light socket. Plastic light sockets will have a lower watt limitation than a metal socket. Also check the Tiffany shade for additional lamp type or size limitations. Standard lamps will show a rating anywhere from 110 to 130 volts, so the 125 volt rating is fine.
    Enjoy your light!