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Light Bulb Wattage Ratings: What Happens if You Exceed Them?

light bulb wattage ratings

If it’s time to replace a burned out bulb or you just want something brighter, you’ll have to think about light bulb wattage ratings before heading to the store. All light fixtures have a maximum wattage rating, and yes, you should follow it—unless you like to risk house fires. Installing a bulb or group of bulbs that exceeds either individual or combined socket wattage ratings can have detrimental effects. If you’re lucky enough to avoid a fire, you risk damaging your fixture’s sockets or wiring. Either way, it’s not anything you want to leave to chance. So what should you do if you want a brighter bulb, but that pesky wattage rating is preventing you from getting one? Go with LED light bulbs.

LED wattage is always going to be less than incandescent or halogen bulb wattage for bulbs that are equal in brightness. All of our LED bulbs list actual wattage consumed along with wattage equivalency compared to incandescent bulbs. When you see 60W equivalent on LED bulb specifications, it means that that specific bulb emits the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb. What’s important to notice though is that the LED bulb’s actual wattage will be significantly lower than the incandescent light bulb’s wattage. In fact, LED bulbs consume about 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. This means that you can get the light output you want without having to worry about exceeding a fixture’s wattage rating. Not only will you eliminate the worry, but you’ll also be lowering your electric bill at the same time.

LED bulbs won’t always be compared to incandescent bulbs. Different types of LED bulbs are compared to the type of bulbs they’d be replacing. So if you’re replacing a fluorescent T8 tube, the LED wattage equivalency will be compared to a fluorescent tube. Similarly, if you’re replacing an HID bulb or fixture with an LED bulb or fixture, it will show an HID equivalency.

If a light fixture doesn’t have a wattage rating or if it’s not visible anymore, your best bet is to go with LEDs because they’re going to consume such a small amount of power. You can also try to see if wattage is listed on the bulb you’re replacing. It can also be assumed that if it’s an older fixture, its wiring might not be as dependable, so it’s best to go with a lower wattage.