I bought a lamp that I see needs a 3-way bulb. I don't really know what that means, but I see that the switch turns three times. Is using a regular bulb in it dangerous?

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    By the way, GE makes a most exceedingly excellent 3-way bulb. It is LED and is "150W equivalent" at the high setting. The trick is, it switches Low-High-Medium, which means if you put it in a simple 1-way socket, you get full brightness. Not cheap but the quality is so good that you only have to buy it once. Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 19:36

2 Answers 2


Most of the time, with most 3-way sockets and most "one-way" light bulbs, it's fine, other than you click a few extra times to turn it on and off.

Some of the time, due to manufacturing tolerances and the like, there can be a problem with the contact for the intermediate ring shorting out as you switch through the 3-way settings. It's not terribly common, but I have seen it happen more than once.

  • But other than shorting you have not seen any fires or anything of that sort?
    – Burt
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 13:44
  • does doing this, cause any light flickering issues? and how often do you see this "some of the time shorting issue" ?
    – mattsmith5
    Commented Mar 9 at 0:59

a three way bulb has an extra filament and provides 3 brightness levels, if you use a regular bulb it will work ok, but only give one brightness level.


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    Sounds like a brake light lamp for a car, where there is one ground and two live connections, each connected to a filament of different brightness.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 11:43

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