Electrical Experts

Electrician Explains What Happens When Using Wrong Light Bulb Wattage

Everyone uses light bulbs in their daily life. These devices are so common that it’s so easy to take them for granted. That is, until the time comes when one needs to be replaced. Before you go out replacing that busted light bulb in your home, office or appliance, it pays to know if you’re buying the right bulb for your needs, because buying the wrong one can mean an ill-fitting bulb, higher energy consumption, and/or a safety risk.

Using the incorrect lightbulbWhat is overlamping?

Overlamping occurs when you buy a light bulb with a wattage that’s too high for your electrical fixture to handle. Fixtures have a manufacturer-recommended wattage rating that you need to follow, and if you exceed it, intense heat is the result, which can melt the light socket as well as the insulation on the wires. Once that happens, you put yourself at risk of arc faults, and even property fires.

The longer overlamping occurs, the more you put yourself at risk. Even after realizing your mistake and correcting it, you could have already dealt permanent damage to your fixture.

How to avoid overlamping

Modern fixtures reveal their wattage rating somewhere in the assembly—you just have to know how to look for it. Once you identify your fixture’s wattage rating, buy a lamp that matches or is below what’s listed. As long as you don’t go over the manufacturer’s recommended wattage, you’ll be safe. If your fixture doesn’t have a wattage recommendation, the rule of thumb is to choose bulbs with 60-watts or lower.

For better safety, have an electrician inspect your electrical system to see if there are any overlamping damage that need be addressed. A certified electrician may also provide you with the best recommendations for your replacement bulbs.


What Overlamping Is and Why You Should Avoid It, ApartmentTherapy.com