Light Bulb Wattage Guide: How Many Do You Need?

When buying light bulbs you will often see three key specifications: lumen, kelvin, and watt. Given that these three factors are often mixed and intertwined, it would be best to understand each one individually.

This article is dedicated to the light bulb wattage theme, so we will study it in detail here. You no longer have to get annoyed and call a repairman every time you need a new light bulb because this is not a science that is hard to understand once you figure out what it is about.

Light bulb wattage guide

In order to understand anything about light bulb wattage, firstly you’ll need to know that the symbol written on the packaging of each bulb, and referring to watts, is W. The next crucial thing you need to know is that wats measure energy consumption. The higher the power level, the brighter the light.

With energy-efficient light bulbs like LEDs, things are a little different. One 5 W LED bulb can create enough lumens to replace a 30 W bulb, which is why it’s so important to look at lumens and watts.

Read our guide on lumens.

What wattage of the light bulb do I need?

The easiest way to find out what wattage of the light bulb you need, is to check the label on the lamp.

There is always a maximum wattage for lamps that it can safely operate at, and you should not exceed the maximum wattage. Most lamps can accommodate a maximum of 60 watts, so you should be careful about exceeding that wattage.

However, using a lower wattage light bulb is a safe and common option also, and you can use a lower wattage lightbulb than the specified maximum, even if it’s brighter than average. 

If we’re talking about light bulb wattage for a ceiling light or recessed lights, you should check that up on the labels of the bulb socket. You’ll be able to read the maximum light bulb wattage there. You can use a light bulb of any wattage within the safety limit for fixtures with a single bulb.

In case your fixture has more than one bulb, you will need to take care that the total wattage of all bulbs doesn’t exceed the specified maximum.

Most refrigerators or ovens require a 40-watt light bulb, but that depends on the manufacturer so it varies.  The required wattage for an appliance depends on the make, type, and model. Many refrigerators and ovens take a 40-watt bulb, but this varies by manufacturer.

The key is to rely on the manufacturer and, as always, not to exceed the safety limit.

Does wattage matter for light bulbs?

In terms of heat, wattage for light bulbs matters and it is very important because overheating can lead to bad consequences related to fire accidents, but watts aren’t important in deciding how much light you need from a light bulb.

Since we use different types of bulbs today, including LEDs which consume much less energy than standard ones, we cannot use watts as a reliable measure of light intensity. Light isn’t measured in watts, it’s measured in lumens.

The following table shows how many different types of bulbs need watts for the same light intensity.

Comparison of energy consumption of different light bulbs measured in watts and lumens

Can I use a 60-watt bulb in a 40-watt lamp?

For safety reasons we never recommend using higher than recommended watts, so using a 60-watt bulb in a 40-watt lamp isn’t a smart idea.

If you want to achieve a brighter light output, the better and safer option is to replace the traditional bulb (if you have one) with an LED bulb that will achieve brighter light with fewer watts.

What’s the difference between 40w and 60w bulbs?

The difference between 40W and 60W bulbs is that the 40-watt bulb is capable of producing 380-460 Lumens, but the 60-watt bulb is able to produce 750-850 Lumens.

The conclusion is that the 60-watt light bulb emits more light than a 40-watt light bulb.


Now that you are familiar with the topic of light bulb wattage, you should have no problem recognizing what you and your household need. It is perfectly understandable that this subject is confusing, but we are sure that buying a light bulb from now on will put less pressure on you.

The main thing we learned from this article is that the intensity of light isn’t measured in watts, but the energy consumption is, and that is what is relevant nowadays. Try to opt for LED bulbs since you can achieve brighter light with them by having fewer watts.

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