What Happens When You Put a Higher Watt Light Bulb?

what happens when you put a higher watt light bulb

Are you going to replace a bulb in a desk or floor lamp? This task is quite intuitive. You just need to wait until the old one cools down. Otherwise, you may burn your fingers. However, you are to have a suitable, new bulb available. What happens when you put a higher watt light bulb? Let’s discover if it’s dangerous and how to avoid risk.

Does Wattage Matter for Light Bulbs?

We are used to buying bulbs, taking into account their wattage. We did it for decades, focusing on this measure of electrical flow. Watt is a basic unit. It determines amount of mechanical, thermal or electrical power.

When it goes about light bulbs, wattage determines its:

  1. Brightness.
  2. Energy consumption.
  3. Amount of heat and UV radiation emitted.

So, we need light in a kitchen or bathroom to be bright enough to solve multiple daily tasks. Meanwhile, we strive for conserving energy to save on our utility bills. How to solve this problem?

Energy may be 100% clean and green. Creating an energy system of this kind is a key mission of the California Energy Commission. How do we use it at home? Modern LED technology is a real catch that helps us in household and business activities. The best led recessed lights are a good example of its multiple benefits.

Here you can see more information about best-recessed lighting!

Is Wattage an Accurate Measurement of Brightness?

Is illumination in your room bright enough? This assessment is quite subjective. Luminous flux or luminous power is considered to be the most accurate measure of brightness. This way, quantity is visible light, emitted by a bulb is calculated. It is expressed in lumens. However, how to convert it to watts?

wattage definition

The formula is rather complicated. You are to divide luminous flux by luminous efficacy. You get the power in watts. Thus, it’s better to use a chart to convert the values.

How Lumens Convert to Watts

how convert lumens to watts

Can I put a 60w bulb in a 40w lamp? This question refers to traditional, incandescent bulbs. They radiate heat. So, I would not recommend you to do it. Quite naturally, you get brighter light, more suitable to read occasionally. However, if the lamp comes with a plastic socket, it is melted quite fast. Meanwhile, you may replace it with an 11W LED bulb. It would be safe and bright simultaneously.

What Kind of Light Bulbs Go in Recessed Lights?

Recessed lights are compact fixtures. They are installed flush to the ceiling. The fixtures are versatile. Commonly, they are compatible with all types of bulbs, such as:

  • halogen;
  • fluorescent;
  • incandescent;
  • LED.

Just look at the holder. It’s the place to screw the bulb in. The holder corresponds to the special standard, such as E27, E14 or GU10. They differ by diameters. So, if you find a bulb that fits the holder, its type may be neglected. However, there are several considerations to think about before you select the bulbs.

what kind of light bulbs go in recessed lights

Different types of bulbs have dissimilar luminous efficacy.

Types of Bulbs for Lamps

types of light bulbs for lamps

It means that consuming the same amount of electric power, LED bulbs provide the most amount of lumens or brightness. They are more compact, fitting any opening size. Additionally, they are much safer, as they are cooler. I would not use the bulbs that heat a lot near the hanging ceiling that is made of sheetrock. I guess it could be dangerous.

Drawbacks of Incandescent Bulbs

We used traditional bulbs for ages. They were invented in the late 1800s. They are familiar, providing essential warmth and coziness to our homes. Incandescent bulbs contain no toxic materials and light without flickering.

However, now they are phased out. They are banned by the EISA act. Nowadays, neither 40W nor 100W tungsten-based bulbs are produced. They are still available in the shops. Can I use 100W bulb instead of 60W? If the watt rating on the lamp socket allows it, no problems. If you want, buy traditional bulbs. But do you need it?

incandescent light bulb factsIncandescent bulbs are affordable. However, they are:

  1. energy-consuming;
  2. fragile;
  3. emitting a lot of heat;
  4. not beneficial to the environment.

These bulbs produce light by heating of filament. They require more energy to run than modern devices. These bulbs convert only about 10% of energy into light. Wasting energy means that excessive pollutants are released to the atmosphere.

Overheating Issues

Additionally, incandescent bulbs are not as safe as we used to think. What happens if you put too higher watt bulb? It might cause overheating. Some parts of the fixture could be damaged. Especially, the shades made of paper, bamboo and synthetic fabrics are vulnerable. Plastic components that are holders or sockets might be melted. At least, their life is reduced. Finally, overheating might cause a fire.

So, is it safe to put a higher watt light bulb? I don’t think so. Overheating of a desk or table lamp you see with half an eye. Wiring problems of ceiling fixtures are difficult to distinguish. They are not so easy to extinguish a fire.

Meanwhile, most incandescent bulbs produce an orange-like glow. Their color temperature is low. So, I would recommend to use them in bedrooms and nurseries. The range of LED bulbs is much wider. You are free to select any color temperature you like.

Does Voltage Matter for Light Bulbs?

Have you already selected the bulbs? This task is not as simple as it seems initially. Voltage is one more criterion you are to consider. It’s divided into 2 categories:

  • low (12V);
  • line (120V).

At home, you use 110-120V current. This house wiring standard is applied throughout the USA. It’s more economic than 220-240V current used in Europe, India and a lot of other countries.

Most table lamps and chandeliers are line voltage. Some ceiling fixtures and most recessed lights are low voltage. So are LED bulbs. It’s much safer and movable, suitable for outdoor applications. Additionally, it’s energy-saving. Wattage is a function of voltage and amperage. So, it lets you reduce your utility expenditures.

120V and 130V bulbs are interchangeable. They are used with line-voltage devices that are simply plugged into any standard outlets. LED bulbs can’t be directly fitted into these fixtures. They would be damaged explosively. Therefore, installing recessed lights, use a transformer. On the other hand, traditional bulbs, plugged into low-voltage devices just won’t run. They get insufficient power to operate.

What happens when you put a lower watt light bulb?

It’s safe, as maximum wattage rating is indicated for every fixture. Brightness could be compromised a bit if you use traditional bulbs.

General Impression

Modern LED devices provide the same amount of lumens. They are safe and energy-saving. So, make your choice and enjoy your cozy house.

Harry Brown

Hello, welcome to the blog! My name is Harry. I am concerned about my eyes health. What about you? Do you like reading? By choosing the right light intensity and color, you will avoid many awkward situations. I hope, my articles and reviews help you.


  • So I just put canned lights in my basement(unfinished for now). Over the laundry facilities, my wife needed more light so used 3 150w bulbs. The light provided is acceptable. However, the lights will flip on and off in about 10 minute rotations…if that makes sense. Are these bulbs too hot for the fixtures?

  • Hi Tim,

    Unfortunately, I don’t know what size your basement is to offer something …
    The same goes for 150 V light bulbs. Each luminaire has its own limitations on the maximum light bulb power that can be used with it.

  • So, I bought a lamp that has a max rating of 60 watts for regular bulbs, 21 watts for CFL bulbs, and 15 watts for LED bulbs.
    I don’t really understand that, particularly given that the more efficient bulbs generate less waste heat. As long as the physical dimensions of the bulbs aren’t an issue, why shouldn’t I be able to use, say, a 18 watt LED bulb?

  • Hi Jim,
    If I understood the question correctly, then my opinion is: 15 or 18 LED bulbs heats up much less than, ordinary 60 watts light bulb.

  • I have this wax melter you plug into the wall like a night light. The original bulb–i don’t know what wattage it was–worked fine in providing fragrance throughout the room. My replacement bulbs have not done as well. I was thinking maybe I needed a hotter bulb. The plug for the ceramic melter indicates 120v, 15W. I want to replace with 25W bulbs without causing any fire hazard.