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I have an old table lamp that's imprinted "LEVITON / MADE IN USA / 660W 250V / LAMP HOLDER".

I'm used to lamps with stickers that specifically tell me what max-watt bulbs I can use, usually 60W, 75W, or 100W.

Why is this lamp printed "660W", and what's its actually safe, maximum-wattage bulb?

Photos below. There's a UL sticker, but otherwise nothing else is printed or stuck on the lamp sides or bottom.

photo photo

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    \$\begingroup\$ How big was the table?! \$\endgroup\$ – Transistor May 12 at 18:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ The table lamp measures less than 12 inches in height without its shade. \$\endgroup\$ – 2540625 May 12 at 18:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Transistor Maybe it's a table lamp meant for the darkest of nights. Like during the heat death of the universe. \$\endgroup\$ – DKNguyen May 12 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's likely that you're looking at a 'generic' bulb holder, made by Leviton, and that the bulb holder by itself is rated for up to 660W. That carries no weight when you want to know what the fixture as a whole is rated for. \$\endgroup\$ – brhans May 12 at 18:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ 660W is more of a searchlight than a table lamp. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Drummond May 12 at 19:09
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Without any other information, you are left with trial and error. With an incanddescent bulb you need to be concerned about overheating the shade. With an LED bulb the concern would be the temperature of the control circuit in the bulb.

The 660 watt rating of the lamp holder would indicate that should never be a concern, other parts of the lamp will always be the limiting factors.

Unless the shade is ridiculously small, I would think a 60 W incandescent would be fine and 100 W probably ok. For 150 W, you should probably have a larger clearance between the bulb and shade than would be usual for a single-bulb lamp. The safety issue comes down to the possibility of the shade catching fire, but you might also want to avoid discoloration.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Seems like 660W 250V is the standard rating for many UL-listed sockets, including silly plastic ones. Modern lamps have a fixture rating sticker (looked at two and one was 40W and the other 150W- and of course if you change the shade the rating might be different). With LED or CF lamps, nothing will be a worry, of course. \$\endgroup\$ – Spehro Pefhany May 12 at 20:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Trial and error? But I want a little sticker (or anonymous stranger online) to promise guaranteed safety! Thank you for your feedback (upvoted). \$\endgroup\$ – 2540625 May 12 at 20:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would not say that there is nothing to worry about with LED of CF, but since the photo seems to show no blockage of air flowing upward from below and no indication that the bulb will be enclosed, there would likely be nothing to worry about. However it has been my experience that LEDs and CFs are very sensitive to blockage of air flow. \$\endgroup\$ – Charles Cowie May 12 at 20:54
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If the socket faces up like that (bulb goes in base down), then the 660W limit has only to do with heat that might transmit down to the socket. You can use anything UP TO 660W, which for a table lamp would be ridiculous. Anything less than 660W is fine.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your summation of the orientation is correct. Thank you for your feedback (upvoted). \$\endgroup\$ – 2540625 May 12 at 20:46
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The 660W rating you see is the rating of the socket component of the lamp. Note that actual 660W lamps with Edison bases are basically unheard of.

The lamp fixture (luminaire) will have its own rating. For that you must consult its labeling and/or instructions, which are part of its UL Listing.

Search the luminaire, including the base, for anything about that.

Otherwise, 60W is a very safe assumption. And that is more than you'll ever want in the 21st century since CFLs came and went and LED is king... 60 actual watts of LED would be an insane amount of light.

The watt ratings of luminaires are thermal; they are the max that the lamp is certified for to not start a fire. As such, it is relevant to the heat output, not the light output.

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