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Can I Use a Lower or Higher Watt Bulb? (Answered)

“Can I use a lower or higher watt bulb?” has always been a surfing question in people’s minds and on the internet as many people don’t know what wattage rating of a bulb is the right one for their light fixtures.

If you are also looking for this common question, don’t make any more delay and read further to know the exact answers.

Can I Use A Lower Or Higher Watt Bulb?

A bulb with a lower watt can safely be used in a high wattage-rated light socket as it’ll draw less electricity and produce less heat. But a bulb with a higher watt than a bulb fixture can tolerate can’t be used as it’ll pull more electricity than the fixture is designed and can cause fire threats.

Fluorescent and halogen, are the two types of bulbs that are most commonly used in daily life. So naturally, you would be want to know whether or not you can use a lower or higher watt fluorescent and halogen bulb.

Thence, here brief explanations to clarify your skepticism have been added.

Fluorescent Bulb:

You certainly can use a lower wattage compact fluorescent bulb into a bulb fixture with higher wattage. It’s because compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) draw just one-fourth of the total electricity in comparison to bright incandescent bulbs.

As a result, fluorescent bulbs generate less heat and offer more brightness than incandescent bulbs.

For example, if you use a fluorescent bulb in a light fixture that parallels the light generation of 100-watt incandescent light (1600 lumens), the fluorescent will use just 25 watts current. And will offer the exact amount of glow.

However, don’t use a higher watt fluorescent bulb than the fixture can handle because it can cause overheating.

Halogen Bulb:

You can use a lower watt halogen bulb as it will use much less electricity than a higher wattage halogen bulb and will produce much less heat. And this is an economical option if you want to save the usage of current.

However, the drawback is lower wattage halogen bulb will generate much less light than a regular 60-watt halogen bulb. But if you are still fine with brightness, you can use it.

But remember not to use higher wattage halogen bulb on a lower watt bulb socket because it will draw more electricity and will cause overheating. Therefore, the plastic components of the fixture can melt and even can cause a fire.

Is It Ok To Use A Lower Wattage Bulb?

It’s considered absolutely fine to use a lower wattage bulb than the recommended wattage written on the light fixture if it’s fine with you compromising on getting less brightness from the bulb.

Also, if electricity saving is your main concept, you can safely use a lower wattage bulb in the fixture without facing any threats.

Is It Ok To Put A 60W Bulb In A 40W Lamp?

It’s totally unsafe, let alone be okay putting a 60W bulb in a 40W lamp. It’s because if you use a higher wattage bulb in a low wattage lamp fixture, it will overheat excessively, especially if the fixture is a closed one.

Therefore, the plastic components can melt, or even in the worst scenario, your home can be set on a fire. So it’s very unsafe.

What Happens If You Use The Wrong Wattage Light Bulb?

A wrong wattage light bulb brings a bunch of risks and severe problems with the electrical system. And all of them take place when you have bought a higher wattage bulb than your light fixture’s maximum wattage which produces extra heat.

So for your future safety, this section has included all the potential risks that can occur if you use the wrong wattage light bulb.


The first as well as the major issue caused by using the wrong wattage light bulb is overheating. It occurs when the higher wattage light bulb is generating excessive heat than the maximum limit which is causing the bulb to overheat.

Thereby, overheating can direct to the melting of your bulb socket, cables, and insulation of the bulb fixture. And these occurrences can direct to arc fault which at a point can set your home on fire.

Light Fixture Damage:

Even if the damage doesn’t go so far as fire risks, a wrong wattage light bulb can permanently ruin your light fixtures.

When you are using a wrong, precisely to say a higher wattage light bulb in a lower than specified light fixture, it tends to generate excess heat which causes overheating.

And it’s a common issue that overheating can melt your lightbulb holding socket causing permanent fixture damage.

And if you use the wrong wattage bulb in a closed bulb fixture like glass, wall scones, etc. the light fixture will surely be damaged. Along with it, the threat of fire increases as the excess heat is unable to dissipate inside the closed fixtures.

Excess Electricity Consumption:

As you know higher wattage light bulbs consume more current while in use to generate light, therefore, over-consuming of electricity causes a higher electricity charge. And it’s really a concerning issue.


Due to a wrong wattage bulb, overheating can make the wiring inside the bulb fixture brittle. And if the wirings are inside walls/ceilings, a fire threat can take place.

How Do I Know What Wattage And Voltage Light Bulb I Need?

The rating of the voltage of the light bulb you need relies on the voltage of your area’s power supply because the light fixtures are connected to it.

So basically you don’t have many alternatives while choosing the right voltage light bulb as it is going to be supplied by the voltage your household runs in a specific region.

However, know that in the USA the voltage rating of households’ is 120V, so all the light fixtures in maximum houses are supplied by a 120V power supply, and often your light sockets will be marked with a limitation of 120V.

Also, some households’ light fixtures are supplied with low voltage as much as 12V.

Therefore, knowing the voltage of the power supply in your area is the only way you can know what wattage voltage light bulb you need. The voltage of the power supply is different based on the region or country.

But here are the ways to know what wattage bulb you need have been included below.

Check Inside The Socket Of The Fixture:

Generally, the standard wattage is printed inside the bulb sockets of a light fixture. So you need to remove the bulb first to know the wattage. If not, the ideal wattage can also be printed around the bulb socket and it will be printed on a silver-colored sticker.

Check The Bulb:

Regardless of the traditional halogen bulbs, fluorescent bulbs, or LED bulbs, all of them will surely have a maximum wattage rating written somewhere on bulbs’ glass or metal collars.

Even the packaging of fluorescent bulbs and LED bulbs have the maximum wattage rating labeled on, so you can check the packaging to know whether the maximum wattage of the bulb matches with the wattage of your light fixture or not.

Check Beneath The Cover Of Ceiling Lights:

Only if you have a flush bulb fixture in your home, check the wattage of the light fixture underneath the cover. Just remove the cover and the ideal wattage must be written on the light fixture’s insulation. And then get a bulb according to that wattage.

What Is The Minimum Wattage For A Light Fixture?

The maximum wattage rating for a light fixture is 60 watts, especially when it is a closed fixture. However, the open light fixtures occasionally can go as high as 75 watts to 100 watts. And you will find this utmost wattage rating written on the sockets of light bulb fixtures.

Can I Use A Lower Wattage Ballast?

You can use a lower wattage ballast if you have no problem getting less light than the estimated light output and if power efficiency is your basic goal. But the lower wattage ballast can overheat since they need to boost secondary voltage for keeping it lit.

Can I Mix Different Wattage Bulbs?

You can mix different wattage bulbs in a fixture as long as you make sure that together light bulbs’ total added wattage doesn’t surpass the utmost wattage rating of the sockets of the light fixture.

Also, you need to endure that individually the light bulbs aren’t exceeding the maximum wattage rating as well for the safety of both the bulbs and fixture.

Final Thoughts

A lower watt bulb can be safely used in a light fixture with a higher wattage rating because it will use less current and will not overheat. But a higher watt bulb can’t be used in a light fixture with a lower wattage as it will use up more current and will overheat which can start a fire.