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Why Do Lamp Shades Have A Maximum Wattage Rating and What Happens If I Exceed It?

Most lamp shades have a maximum wattage rating because wattage is the measurement of power that your light bulb will give off. This means the heat produced when the light is switched on. Prolonged use will increase the heat that can build up within your light fitting. One of the major causes of house fires is the misuse of light fittings and electrical appliances in the home and many of these accidents could easily have been avoided with a little care.

Lamp shades should always be constructed from fire resistant materials and there is the trouble. Fire resistant materials have been known to catch fire when they are exposed to extreme heat for prolonged times. The sort of heat that can build up in your light fitting, especially when using an incorrect light bulb ,or a shade that is too small or made of the wrong materials.

If you have the wrong lamp shade on your lamp or the wrong light bulb fitted then you may be at risk of causing a fire.

Consider that a 75 watt bulb can reach temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit plus, hot enough to burn your fingers if you were to touch it. And some halogen lamps can reach temperatures of 700 to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s hot enough to fry an egg! You can immediately see how a fire might happen and many of the elements that make up your lamp shade could ignite or give off toxic fumes given the right, or wrong conditions.

We all like to add colour and warmth to our homes with lamp shades that compliment our décor but it is very important to consider the size, type, material and general suitability of the shade you choose. Most lamps that you can buy will come with a lamp shade already included and this will be the correct type for that particular lamp. If you want to change your shade then always be guided by the manufacturers label that will be attached somewhere. If in doubt seek professional advice from the shop you bought your lamp or perhaps an electrician.

Lamp shades are generally made from combustible materials i.e. plastic, paper, fabric and even wood chip so even when treated with fire retardant they have the potential to catch fire. Wattage is an indication of power consumption in your light bulb and therefore of heat produced, if the manufacturers recommendations are not followed you may create a fire hazard.

It is important therefore to always stick to manufacturers guidelines about the type of lamp shade you can use on your lamp.

Never cover your lamp shade with scarves or paper to add to its ambience unless you know for certain that this is accepted by the manufacturer.

Never leave a high output lamp next to combustible materials, i.e. curtains or wallpaper, and only use the correct light bulbs for all your light fittings and lamps.

Following these simple 'rules' will reduce the potential for an accidental fire in your home.

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