Can you install an LED bulb that exceeds its fixture or socket wattage rating?

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A common question we receive is:

"I have a 60-watt equivalent LED bulb, but the socket I want to install it into says [MAX 50 WATTS] - Is it OK to install the LED bulb in this socket?"


The answer: generally, yes, it is safe as long as the actual wattage of the LED bulb is within the limits of the socket or fixture.

What is the difference between an LED lamp's actual wattage and its equivalent wattage?

The main advantage of LED lamps over traditional lamps is their energy efficiency. This means that they consume just a fraction of energy (actual wattage) to provide the same amount of light output (equivalent wattage).

For example, Waveform Lighting's A19 LED lamp is a 60 Watt equivalent, but its actual power draw is only 10 Watts.

The primary reason socket and fixture manufacturers indicate a "MAX WATTAGE" specification is to reduce the risk of fire caused by too much wattage being carried through the socket's wiring as well as from the heat released by the incandescent bulb.

Therefore, as long as the LED lamp's actual wattage and heat released is less than the socket or fixture rating, you should not encounter any issues. LED lamps do get warm, but they only emit a fraction (~15%) of the heat that an incandescent bulb emits.

Many lamp fixtures and sockets were manufactured before the wide adoption of LED bulbs, and therefore do not indicate clearly whether they refer to LED, CFL or incandescent bulbs. When in doubt, we recommend contacting the fixture or socket manufacturer to confirm.

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