Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

2011-06-09 17:40

This socket is rated for at most a 60W lightbulb. But wait! What about compact fluorescent lightbulbs, where 60W would be some kind of major flood light, and 26W or so gets you more light than a 100W incandescent?

Today, my new lamp answered: The limit is 60W incandescent, 15W CFL.

This is because a 15W CFL is equivalent to a 60W incandescent, and thus presumably generates the same amount of heat. This is… pretty much vacuum pockets territory.

Peter Seebach




  1. Wait, so your lamp won’t work with anything more than a 15W CFL? Is this from the manufacturer’s instructions, or did you actually try it? That makes no sense— CFLs produce the same amount of heat as the wattage would suggest. Though it’s mostly in the base, rather than the tube.

    My main problem with CFLs (and LCDs) is that they aren’t bulb shaped, so they don’t fit in sockets designed for the exact shape and size of an incandescent.

    Dave Leppik · 2011-06-10 11:10 · #

  2. They have a stated limit in the warning label of 15W. Obviously it’ll work fine with other lamps; I’ve been using 26W CFLs in those for ages and none have yet caught fire. Or, indeed, gotten even as warm as a 60W incandescent would.

    They’re getting better about the shapes than they used to be, though there’s a long way to go. Still, CFL bases are now about 1/4 the size they were when I started using them.

    seebs · 2011-06-12 18:27 · #

  3. CFLs produce far less heat than incandescent, making them far more energy efficient…less energy lost to heat, more energy converted to light. A lamps wattage limit is related to how much current it can tolerate. Thus, you could easily put a 30 Watt CFL in your lamp.
    Am I being too literal again?

    — Ellen · 2011-06-21 17:31 · #

  4. The restrictions on bulb size are based on heat generated by an incandescent. A 26 watt CFL generates more light than a 60 watt incandescent but much less heat.

    In order to deal with the bulb shape issue you can often use a socket extender. It took me a long time to think of this and then go to the hardware store and buy a handfull of them. They have been available for years. One of those plus a newest mini CFL fits almost everywhere.

    — David Miran · 2011-09-10 15:05 · #