How Many Watts Does a Desk Lamp Use?

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The better question is what wattage is safe for me to use in a desk lamp? In truth, any light bulb that can be screwed into the socket is safe. But is it really the most effective or truly safe just because it fits? In this article, we will answer this question by discussing what affects the wattage and how you can tell what wattage to use in your desk lamp to minimize the dangers.

How Do They Decide the Wattage Rating?

Many factors like construction, size, the temperature rating of the wiring, the socket assembly’s insulation and shade design play a part in deciding the lamp's wattage rating. In the end, anything in the construction of the lamp that has to do with the current of electricity as it runs through it, or heat dissipation, dictates what is the appropriate wattage for that specific home appliance. Now that means that the answer to this question is dependent on the model you have purchased.

For instance, take a lamp that is set to use a CFL (compact fluorescent light bulb) is designed to use less power and give a maximum lumen of 800 which equates out to only 13-15 watts. Whereas if you are using the light bulb style, we all have come accustomed to you will be using anywhere from 45-60 watts.

That is all well and good you say, but why does that matter? After all, if the light bulb fits it works, right?

The Importance of Using Right Wattage

The biggest reason for using the right wattage for your desk lamp involves a major safety concern — fire. All lamps and home fixtures usually come with a suggested range or level of wattage that it can withstand. Using the right wattage will ensure that you are getting the most efficiency and are not going to end up burning the place down.

These desk lamps are given this rating because of a combination of all the things we mentioned in the section above have been inspected. You see, the wires used to deliver the power to that light bulb can only handle so much heat before they become weakened and prone to breakage. In other words, if you use the wrong wattage more power is trying to be pulled through those wires creating more heat and eventually the wires will weaken and become more susceptible to sparking leading to a fire hazard.

Where Can I Find How Much Wattage is Suggested?

On most modern items there is usually a label on the back or bottom of the appliance that gives you a breakdown of the limits of the mechanism including wattage. If, however, you are dealing with an older lamp, just err on the side of caution and simply go for the lowest wattage light bulb that fits into the socket.

Tips to Figuring Out the Right Wattage

So, you look at the label and you see a range of wattage compatibility and you think that great but what is the safest wattage for me to use in this desk lamp? Three factors contribute to this answer: how much heat is going to be given off by the light bulb; how much heat can your lamps wiring take; and is it an open/or closed lamp design. Here are a few tips that can help you decide how watts your desk lamp uses.

  • If it is an open design, you can use a light bulb that generates a lot of heat. In fact, lamps that use this design may not come with a max wattage rating
  • If it is a closed or recessed design, you may find that lamps with this construction will have a lower max wattage than the others
  • On newer light bulbs, make sure not to  pay much attention to things like “45- watt equivalent”; the more important thing to look at is the power used by the light bulb and the heat produced

These are just a few things to consider when trying to decide where in that range of numbers you can find the sweet spot for your desk lamp.

Final Words

So how many watts does a desk lamp use? The bottom line is that each desk lamp can have different watt usage guidelines and it is important to stick to what the professionals have deemed safe for that model. Trying to use higher wattage light bulbs can lead to disaster. And just like Smokey Bears talks about how we can prevent forest fires, you too can prevent house fires.

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