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Is It Safe To Use Higher Wattage Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) than the Manufacturer’s Specifications for Incandescent Light Bulbs?

I’ve been wondering for quite some time if it was safe to use higher wattage Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) than the manufacturer’s specifications for Incandescent Light Bulbs. I searched for an answer to this question and couldn’t find one. I did discover the Ceiling Fan Questions and Answers blog by Hansen Wholesale though. Although there was some great information there, I still couldn’t find my answer. So I decided to email Greg Tillotson, the chief editor for Hansen Wholesale. Here is my email to Greg:


I discovered your Ceiling Fan Questions and Answers blog while researching a particular question. I read your articles on ceiling fan efficiency, but still haven’t found an answer to my question, so I thought this might be a good question for your blog.

We have several ceiling fans in our home. If I remember correctly, they have all specified that we are to use 60-watt or less bulbs. This is both the 3-bulb and 4-bulb models of fans. I find that 60-watt bulbs In the bedrooms are fine. However, in my office I want more light than this provides. I just replaced the four 60-watt incandescent bulbs with four 23-watt compact fluorescent bulbs (equivalent light of four 100-watt incandescent bulbs). This is the kind of light I like in my office! My guess is that the manufacturers specify 60-watt bulbs or less because of the heat generated, but I don’t know that for certain. I’m wondering if my use of four 23-watt compact fluorescent bulbs will damage the fan or cause some other safety issue since they provide the equivalent light of four 100-watt incandescent bulbs. If so, must I stick with four 15-watt compact fluorescent bulbs (equivalent light output of 60-watt incandescent bulbs) or is there something else I can do to safely increase the amount of light in my office without installing new fixtures or stand-alone lamps.

Thank you for your time. I’m sure I can’t be the only person looking for an answer to this question. Great job on the blog too!

Within just a few minutes, I received the following response from Greg:

Great question…and yes, we should address this on our site.

Actually, the maximum wattage for the sockets is based on 2 things: the heat generated by the bulbs and the wattage they consume. The compact fluorescent bulbs will consume less wattage and burn cooler, so they are better in both aspects. You can certainly use the 23 watt bulbs. You could potentially use 60 watt CFLs if they made them.

Wow! I’m guessing that a 60-watt CFL would be like equivalent to a 240-watt incandescent. With four of them that would be like having nearly 1000-watts of incandescent light in my office! I could probably tan while I worked!

If you have questions about ceiling fans, I suggest you send Greg an email–and of course, check out their store too.

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  • Reply
    3/25/2009 at 1:16 pm

    I’m so glad you asked about this! I was wondering the same thing myself and couldn’t find the answer. Thank you!

  • Reply
    3/25/2009 at 5:10 pm

    Suzanne – Thanks for letting me know you found this information useful!

  • Reply
    10/27/2009 at 4:05 pm

    I’ve been looking for an answer on this subject for quite a while now! So glad somebody took the initiative to blog about it!

  • Reply
    12/30/2012 at 3:34 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I was wondering about this myself.

  • Reply
    11/6/2013 at 6:48 pm

    so glad I found this!

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