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I just bought a light fixture that uses GU10 base Halogen bulbs and came with 50 watt bulbs that are way too bright for my purposes.

The documentation lists the maximum wattage bulbs that can be used for the fixture, but makes no mention of the minimum safe wattage. I also couldn't find any information on the vendor's web site.

As a general rule, is it safe to use any wattage bulb in a fixture that is below the maximum, or is there a risk of overloading them somehow or burning them out too quickly?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

AFAIK, bulbs with a GU-10 base are driven directly from electrical mains, in which case it's OK to use a lower-power bulb. Your fixture won't reach the temperatures that it's capable of withstanding.

The only place that I know of that it might not be OK is with low-voltage (usually 12V or 24V) lighting systems such as track or task lighting: some transformers have a minimum power output that they like to supply, so if you use lower wattage bulbs, you should use more of them to compensate (somewhat defeating the purpose). If this applies, you would have an entry for Minimum power on the specifications for the lighting system.

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To add, the rating is specifically for heat and current-rating purposes. It's there because that's the maximum heat the fixture is physically safe to handle, and the wiring is only approved at the associated current. –  gregmac Feb 28 '11 at 4:28
    
It is a 120v fixture with 5 bulbs and I don't think there was a transformer in there (can't remember for sure). –  JohnFx Feb 28 '11 at 5:43
    
@johnfx: Unlikely that you'd have a transformer if the bulbs are 120V rated. I was referring to 12V or 24V transformers for track or task lighting; edited to clarify. –  Niall C. Feb 28 '11 at 15:21

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