How many times can you split power from a light socket?
December 28, 2010 2:18 PM   Subscribe

How many y-socket adapters can you string together into a single light bulb socket?
posted by ish__ to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
It sounds like you are trying to get 4 bulbs to run out of one socket, one splitter in the socket itself, then two more splitters to split both of the first splitter's sockets.

You *could* do this pretty far out. There isn't much resistance created from the splitters themselves, therefore not much heat. Your problem lies in how much you plan on hooking to that one socket in your ceiling. Keep the total wattage underneath the rating of the socket (this is not the 660W that the splitters are rated). These almost always have a wattage ratng, usually somewhere around 60-250W. Go over that wattage and you are looking at somewhere between a melted socket and your house in flames.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:29 PM on December 28, 2010

Response by poster: I'm not aiming for any specific # out of 1 socket, I'm just researching various lighting possibilities. If possible, a couple more splitters for a globe effect from the socket would be interesting I think.

Is there any other bottleneck besides the ceiling socket? That could be replaced easily as well - for a higher rated one that would match with what these are rated? Could I then string as many together provided the overall wattage of all the lights doesn't exceed 600?
posted by ish__ at 2:38 PM on December 28, 2010

Best answer: Ikeahacker did this a couple of years ago, but he used CFL bulbs. I would not use more than one of these when dealing with standard high-wattage bulbs. Seems like an easy way to start a fire when you're not around.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:09 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The only other bottleneck you could get is wattage on the circuit. Power = Current * Voltage. Figure for 110V times whatever current the circuit is rated for (10A, 15A, 20A). Even with a 10A circuit, that provides for 1100W, so it shouldn't bottleneck unless there are other devices on the same circuit.

If you do this, make sure to round up on your wattages to stay on the safer side. Again, I wouldn't personally do this, but there is nothing that *should* prevent this from operating safely as long as you stay under the wattages for all pieces.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:29 PM on December 28, 2010

I have run 3 PCs off one wall outlet...if you figure a couple hundred watts per PC at the same time, you have something like 600 watts. Not recommended...but do-able...
If your bulbs are 75-100 watts, then you're looking at like 6 bulbs...the number of splitters is pretty much irrelevant. (Mild concern regarding open sockets, but not too major)
If you're talking 45 watt bulbs, then you could up that to like you're talking christmas tree type lights.

This is all extremely fuzzy anecdotal math..but it gives you a general idea.
posted by AltReality at 3:35 PM on December 28, 2010

another thought....just add bulbs until your breaker pops...then remove one.

(waiting for all the firefighters in the crowd to jump on me for that one)
posted by AltReality at 3:46 PM on December 28, 2010

There is another bottleneck: heat. If you put 4+ incandescent bulbs very near to each other that's a 240-480W space heater which is very likely a fire hazard when hanging there unshielded and near a wall surface.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:34 PM on December 28, 2010

Best answer: The math is pretty simple on this; you can add as many splitters as long as the wattage on the bulbs in total isn't more then 660. This means 11 60-watt incandescents or many more 60-watt equivalent CFLs.

If the fixture you are screwing the first splitter into is less than 660w, use that as your divisor.

Most residential lighting circuits in the US are 15 amp, or about 1800 watts, so your limit is either the base fixture or the first splitter.
posted by tomierna at 4:39 PM on December 28, 2010

tomiera has the right math though you are probably limited by your fixture as they are generally a lot less than 660 watts.

Unless some scary looking Rube Goldbergest appearance is the goal what not change out to a different fixture? For example a 6 holder raceway bar is only $20 and I've seen them for only a few dollars at our ReNew Store. That would let you load 600 watts a lot safer than 6 y-adapters and for only $2 more.
posted by Mitheral at 4:59 PM on December 28, 2010

Best answer: There's a full "fractal" chandelier based on this concept. Looks like 48 low-wattage bulbs if you can get the 4-way splitter that starts it all.
posted by O9scar at 8:05 PM on December 28, 2010

MeFi's own Daniel Rutter did it, with less secure sounding Australian Y adaptors.
posted by Kyol at 9:12 PM on December 28, 2010

In some old late-60s film (Butterflies Are Free? I Love You Alice B. Toklas?) one of the charcters has a fractal chandelier with I'd guess a couple dozen 7.5 watt bulbs.
posted by Rash at 7:33 AM on December 29, 2010

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