Bright idea
March 5, 2012 10:44 PM   Subscribe

Can I put a 100W incandescent bulb into a metal desk lamp that says to use a max 60W bulb?

It's a metal lamp- the Ikea Format. It has a metal heat-shield inside, at the top of the dome where the bulb sits closest to the shade. The sticker says to use max 60W type A lamps. I've always been a rebel, but I don't want to be a BBQ.

The lamp has sitting around unused for months and is a bit dusty. I just had it on with a 100W bulb inside for about 15 minutes and it smelled kind of hot- not burning, exactly, but kind of dusty-hot, like when you turn on a space heater for the first time that year. I can't tell if that means it's melting or if there's just dust inside. I don't usually leave lights on if I'll be out of the room for more than 20 minutes, and I adore how bright it is... is it OK to keep the 100W bulb, or is that a really dumb idea?
posted by spockpuppy to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think the internal wiring won't be rated high enough to handle the amps, a lower watt lamp is cheaper to run.

Ikea have good return policy for change of mind don't they?
posted by Under the Sea at 10:46 PM on March 5, 2012

My dad was an electrician and would not have approved. The lamp is meant to handle the heat put off by a 60w bulb. Putting in a 100w almost doubles that. It's really up to you how much risk you're ok with.

Personally, I'd look at maybe getting a CFL light? I think the 100w equivalent puts out about 25w of heat.
posted by dotgirl at 10:50 PM on March 5, 2012 [11 favorites]

Maybe you've already done this, but try a clear bulb of equivalent wattage instead of frosted. It's quite impressive the difference in actual light output.
posted by wutangclan at 11:07 PM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

The globe rating is usually limited by heat, not the capacity of the wiring. If you want to use a brighter globe, go for a compact fluorescent at whatever brightness you want. Don't use a 100w incandescent globe in a fitting rated for 60w for long unless you are really sure your fire insurance is paid-up.
posted by dg at 11:10 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

A 60W halogen bulb should produce close to the amount a non-halogen incandescent 100W bulb would produce, with zero sacrifice of light quality.
posted by Hither at 11:23 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I recommend against it.
posted by horsemuth at 11:46 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is a great way to get melted components inside or outside of your Ikea lamp. I have firsthand experience with this.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 12:13 AM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have a couple of lamps I wanted to do this with as well, but aside from the near impossibility of getting 100W bulbs at all, you have Ikea and their cost-effective engineering.
posted by rhizome at 12:28 AM on March 6, 2012

As somebody has already pointed out, this is a great way to melt an IKEA lamp.

It would be a bad idea anyway, but it's double bad if IKEA is involved. Why? Because IKEA is extremely good at engineering for cost. This means that, if the lamp is rated at 60W, it will work perfectly with a 60W bulb, but every single component will fail if you use a 65W bulb. IKEA products are very good at doing what they say, but don't ask for any extra leeway.
posted by Skeptic at 2:34 AM on March 6, 2012

I've used different 250W IR "heating" lamps in these IKEA desk lamps, probably also 60W max rated (11W CFLs are adviced). Only one of them has failed, the other is going strong. I think the main difference is the built-in reflector of the 250W lamps; if most heat is directed outwards, the stress on the desk lamp will be reduced. The other lamp died in a non-spectacular way. But it could have been worse.

I see no reason not to use a 100W equivalent CFL if lighting rather than heating is your desired use.
posted by Akeem at 3:22 AM on March 6, 2012

Best answer: Using a bulb larger than the stated rating can cause the fitting or wires to melt and catch fire.

I recently threw out a 3 year old Ikea lamp because the cable would get hot even using the correct rating of bulb.

The latest statistics of the National Fire Protection Association, available are that 41,200 home structure fires per year are attributed to ‘electrical distribution.’ These electrical distribution fires account for 336 civilian deaths, 1446 civilian injuries, and $643.9 million in direct property damage per year.

Personally I don't want any electrical items in my home which are less than 100% safe.
posted by Lanark at 3:51 AM on March 6, 2012

It will throw great light, but anything plasticky inside will melt, including the insulation on the wiring - this could be fatal, not just for the lamp, but anyone who touches it...

I have some reading lamps and I have replaced the incandescent bulbs with higher output, lower wattage CFLs - a win-win result on so many levels. Halogens are bad news on the heat front, I would avoid them like the plague.
posted by GeeEmm at 3:58 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

You aren't being a rebel, you're being foolish. The lamp is designed to take a certain wattage; that label isn't there to oppress you, it's there to indicate the maximum bulb wattage that the components can handle.

Buy a new lamp, or buy a CF or LEB bulb.
posted by ellF at 4:55 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

IMO, leaving the 100W bulb in is risky. Fire is a concern. I've seen a number of small appliances catch fire because of bad wiring over the years.

A 23W CFL will put out the same amount of light as a 100W incandescent without the risk of the fire department ruining your day.
posted by bonehead at 5:54 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

How is this even a question? Even if there was only a 1% chance that it could start a fire - is it worth it?

The answer is No.
posted by lohmannn at 6:37 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

I melted the Ikea track lighting in my daughter's room by putting in halogen bulbs that were too high (unknowingly). First they smelled a bit toasty, then they literally turned molten and dropped their bulbs.

You can get yourself a 45-Watt compact fluorescent that will give light equivalent to a 150-Watt incandescent, boosting your light by 50% and cutting your risk of fire by infinity. (My math might be off there on the last one.)
posted by looli at 7:38 AM on March 6, 2012

You can, but I wouldn't (because of various experiments I conducted with 100-watt bulbs when I was a boy -- lucky I didn't burn the house down).
posted by Rash at 8:19 AM on March 6, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you, internet. Bulb removed.
posted by spockpuppy at 8:40 AM on March 6, 2012

How is this even a question? Even if there was only a 1% chance that it could start a fire - is it worth it?

I think this falls in the category of "How will I explain my actions to the firemen?"
posted by bongo_x at 1:17 PM on March 6, 2012

If you wait about another year, they'll have 100++W-equivalent LED bulbs that use maybe 20W of power. If you don't like the light provided by a CFL, this may be an option.
posted by jgreco at 2:06 PM on March 6, 2012

Why not use a CFL? Much cooler, lower energy cost.
posted by theora55 at 6:49 PM on March 6, 2012

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